The always notable C.J. Chivers has yet another terrific piece in Sunday’s New York Times.
Headline (web edition) :
As Afghan Fighting Expands, U.S. Medics Plunge In
MARJA, Afghanistan — The Marine had been shot in the skull. He was up ahead, at the edge of a field, where the rest of his patrol was fighting. A Black Hawk medevac helicopter flew above treetops toward him, banked and hovered dangerously before landing nearby.
Several Marines carried the man aboard. His head was bandaged, his body limp. Sgt. Ian J. Bugh, the flight medic, began the rhythms of CPR as the helicopter lifted over gunfire and zigzagged away. Could this man be saved?
Nearly nine years into the Afghan war, with the number of troops here climbing toward 100,000, the pace for air crews that retrieve the wounded has become pitched.
The piece features, as usual, eye-grabbing photos from the indomitable Tyler Hicks:
And, as usual, graphic details from Chivers:
At the airfield, the crews had talked about what propelled them. Some of them mentioned a luxury: They did not wonder, as some soldiers do, if their efforts mattered, if this patrol or that meeting with Afghans or this convoy affected anything in a lasting way.
Their work could be measured, life by life. They spoke of the infantry, living without comforts in outposts, patrolling in the sweltering heat over ground spiced with hidden bombs and watched over by Afghans preparing complex ambushes. When the Marines called, the air crews said, they needed help.
Now the bullets whipped by.
Afghanistan may be where empires go to die. But it sure has brought a lot of excellent reporting to life. And not just in the New York Times.