Kirkus Reviews QR Code


From Desert Storm to Operation Enduring Freedom

by Patrick Thibeault

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1934922651

Retired combat medic recounts his 20-year career, from the burning oilfields of the Gulf War to the treacherous outposts of Afghanistan.

With his stomach snarled in knots and sweat stinging his eyes, Thibeault jumped from the Army aircraft, the jolt of his open parachute giving way to a gentle descent back to earth. It was 1990, and he had survived his first jump at Airborne School. Less than a year later, the rookie medic would find himself in Operation Desert Storm, treating Syrian soldiers whose limbs had been blown off. Thibeault decided to leave the active Army to study nursing, but discovered he still yearned to “be green.” So he joined the Army National Guard. Now a seasoned combat medic and registered nurse, his skills would be tested when sent to Afghanistan in 2004. In rapid-fire style, the author describes helping save the life of an Afghan girl who swallowed insecticide. While in many ways a typical military autobiography, Thibeault’s account is noteworthy for the frank way he describes the grittiest aspects of his experience. Whether it’s the rotten stench of Kabul, prostitutes in Korea or eating monkey paw soup in Ecuador, the author’s honest depiction of what he encountered gives the text a high degree of authenticity. His candor reaches a painful climax in his own struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. “I had a rage inside me,” he writes. “It felt like fire was constantly shooting out of my hands.” The book’s timeline is difficult to follow, but aspiring healthcare professionals will glean lessons from a man equally at home in an Army field hospital or an inner city clinic. Thibeault is sometimes critical of his military experiences, but he concludes that being a medic is “the best job in the world.” Ultimately, the book is two journeys: an insider’s account of battlefield medicine, and the author’s own catharsis as he recalls the wounds he dressed for others and the trauma he faced himself.

The warts-and-all memoirs of a soldier who excelled at the difficult job of being both a warrior and a healer.