From the very beginning after I deployed to Iraq, I was in the habit of praying the rosary everytime I went out side the wire.
My Son Nathan had arrainged a song some years ago that stuck with me based from Psalms 23. I would always sing that as well.
I firmly believe the importance of prayer especially when you are preparing to go into harms way.
It was great to see our troops offering prayer before they went out on missions.
I would create a rosary group that I called "The Rosary Patrol" whose daily mission was to pray for those going out side the wire, for families separated due to the deployment, and for the needs of those present.
I alway held my wife and family as specific prayer intentions. We were blessed to have several people across the United States who would join us in prayer. We saw amazing things take place as prayer moved mountains.
I believe this prayer devotion had an important impact on our missions as we dedicated them for our Battalion and our missions. Early December 2006 while deployed to Iraq, I was serving as a Medical Platoon Sergeant for a forward deployed CAV unit. I was suppose to have 44 Medics in my Platoon but only had 25 Medics. This required that I use all assets on missions. This included myself so I ended up conducting many missions as medical support.
On one such day, I was supporting our Scouts platoons as they were conducting patrols at nearby villages. We stopped at one small village to speak with some of the leaders of the community. I was quickly called as the Shiek had a 3 year old daughter who suffered some burns due to boiling water. The burns were days old so I simply placed dry sterile wrappings on the major injuries and gave them instructions and supplies.
The people living in the village were in fear of the enemy who would attack them randomly. I spoke to one man who lost an uncle who was killed by Terrorists. When this mission was completed and we arrived back on base, I made a plan to help our Command using the Medical support provided. I went to our Battalion Surgeon with a proposel to create a kit that Medics could use specific to helping Iraqi civilians so that they would not be working out of their aid bags.
My plan was supported by Battalion and Brigade so I put the kits together with the supplies I created specific for medics in the field. I also was able to obtain Iraqi supplies so that Iraqi's using supplies would not be caught with American supplies. That could get someone killed.
At this time, the Iraqi Department of Health was practically non-existant as issues continued between the Sunni and Shite factions and their ancient tribal conflicts. What I developed for the medics to use to treat Iraqi civilians, became an opportunity for our Companies when they would conduct patrols surrounding the villages within our area of responsibility. Through this effort, we were able to support thousands of missions helping many Iraqi families at the medic level.
One day my Company Comander wanted me to go on a mission to see what I could do to help an Iraqi infant. It was not believed that the child would survive but they wanted me to see what I could do for the parents. The next morning I was able to see the child and thankfully I found that the child was hydrated and able to eat though she had some allergies. The baby was born with a birth defect and there was little I could do regarding that.
What was so sad to me was the fact the parents held alot of hope that we could do something for them. They had no hope in their capabilities. The child did survive and I would see her again on different Medical Operations we conducted. Through our work, I was able to identify some of these children and through American channels were able to get them care outside the country.
Through this effort, our participation helping Iraqi civilians soon had a marked positive influence that changed the face of the war. Soon, Iraqi volunteers began to come forward to help Americans with information of enemy activity. Attacks on Americans continued to decline as our deployment extended to 15 months. Our Battalion Commander would recognize the importance we had in helping Iraqi civilians to change their direction.
I credit the rosary for many conversions in Iraq. We had many attacks where the entire engine would be blown out the vehicle but nobody recieved any serious wounds. We had many attacks upon us that nobody was hurt. More than once, it was noted that a rosary was placed at the front of the cab. Everything in front of the rosary would be completely demolished, yet everything behind it where the Soldiers were, nothing was damaged.
Prayer was the main effort of the Rosary Patrol and it still is. Thanks be to God for His grace and love. Prayer can make a difference for anyone for anything. Prayer, gotta have it!