COB ZULU, Iraq (March 31, 2010) -- The call for aid came early in the evening, March 28: an Iraqi officer needed help from U.S. Soldiers in treating a burn victim. What made this particular request unusual was that the patient was a 2-year-old girl.

Maj. Mohammad Ghassan Mohammad, operations officer for 2nd Battalion, 32nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division, made the call to B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, and the U.S. Soldiers responded.

"When she arrived [at Contingency Operating Station Zulu] we thought that she was covered with third-degree burns," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Goodner, a native of St. Petersburg, Fla., one of the medics who assisted with treating the child.

"Once inside, we found that she wasn't burned as badly as we had thought," he said. "What we initially thought were burns were actually grounds from coffee or tea."

Her family reported that the child, who is named Rqiah, was burned when she fell down and upset a kettle of scalding tea.

Once Rqiah was cleaned up by the medics, they were able to identify and treat her burns.

"The burns covering her face made me concerned for her eye at first," said Pfc. Skylar Humburd of Fort Madison, Iowa. "Kids are the worst thing to see over here. When you see a kid suffering, it is terrible."

The unpleasant task of cleaning the burns was emotionally challenging for everyone involved.

"Some of the things that we have to do in treatment are not always pleasant" said Spc. Daniel Conklin of Battle Creek, Mich. "When we treat children, it becomes a great deal more personal for us."

During the treatment, Sgt. David Branshaw, of Chandler, Ariz., sang Jimmy Buffet songs to soothe Rqiah.

"I have three children at home and I find that singing, even if they don't understand the words, helps to distract them," he said. "I guess my father instinct kicked in."

The medics, who operate as part of the operations of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, expressed the hope that their contact with Rqiah would not end with the initial treatment.

"We are going to ask that she come back every day, for the next few days, so that we can change her dressings and monitor her burns" said Goodner.

Rqiah's uncle, Sadeq Mohmoed Mriosh, said he was glad that they treated her.

"Thank you, I cannot express it enough," said Sadeq.

Yet, the medics themselves were grateful simply for the chance to help.

"I love my job, but it makes me feel especially great when I can help a child," Humburd said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16