Warriors, Brothers and Patriots
Warriors, Brothers and Patriots
Ryan, Redmond, and Randy Ramos proudly enlisted and were deployed to Afghanistan at different times during the years long conflict. Any one of them will tell you initially that they served in the Marines, but technically all three were attached to the Navy. Each worked alongside the Marines their entire career. Since the Marines do not have a medical company they take Navy corpsman (medical personnel) and train them in marksmanship, weapon manipulation, and combat tactics. They wear the same clothes, carry the same gear, and endure the same hardships.
Ryan was stationed at Camp Pendleton, which is situated in Southern California: until his deployment to Afghanistan. His overseas deployment was spent with a Marine Special Forces unit in Helmond and Kandahar Province. Although his unit was constantly under fire, they were fortunate to suffer only one ballistic injury, but no casualties resulting from IED's. His brothers, on the other hand, were not so lucky. Ryan attributes his good fortune to having served during the Winter months when the enemy was less active. He did treat a lot of Afghan nationals and security forces. Most of which were injured due to IED's and other explosives planted and detonated by Taliban sympathizers. "They will sacrifice hundreds of their own to kill a few of us," Ramos said. "The Afghans have a different mindset: for the most part they treat their children (girls have it the worse) awful." He added.
When they were not out on a mission, the corpsmen were told to stay close to the medical facility in case casualties come in. There were a lot of children that suffered burns due to explosions, but a majority received the worst of it at home. Ryan recalls a three year old girl who's father had her carry boiling water up a hill upon which she fell and poured the boiling water all over herself. She suffered second degree burns over most of her body. As he was working on the little girl her father kept saying something. The interpreter told him he was saying, "it's okay if this one dies, because I have a son at my house." After a dozen or so missions Ryan's team worked its' way back home to the United States.
Ryan's brother Redmond, who was now deployed in Afghanistan, called him early one morning as he slept with some shattering news. "I knew that he was injured before he told me because of the sound of his voice." Ryan remembers. "I saw that the number was foreign and when I answered I said "Red?" He responded, "Hey bro." "His voice sounded hoarse and I thought it was because he was crying." "I thought he was crying because he stepped on an IED and lost his legs." Ryan recalls." Turned out Redmond's voice was hoarse because he was screaming. "I got some good news and some bad. The good news is I am going home early, the bad news is I stepped on an IED." Redmond told his brother.
Redmond didn't lose his leg initially. An essential bone in his foot which is meant to bear large amount of weight was fractured. Doctors initially fitted him with support device called an X-fix in an attempt to salvage his leg. They said that he would be in a wheel chair for a year and there would still be a chance he wouldn't walk: if he did, it would never be the same. After a two months in the X-fix his leg was emancipated, but had become significantly smaller than the other. Like Ryan, Redmond is an active person and did not want to be wheel chair ridden for a year with little chance of a full recovery. A month after the amputation he was walking again.
The transition to civilian for Ryan was hard. He is very punctual, concise, analytical, and dedicated to the point that his civilian friends have taken notice. "They are traits I am proud of," he points out.
Ramos is putting the post-9/11 GI bill to good use. Although his contract expired in May 2011 he has been attending Chapman University since June 2011 with an eye toward finishing his bachelor's degree in psychology. Ryan aspires to be a SWAT medic like my older brother Randy. "The educational benefits for returning veterans are amazing, they pay tuition directly and give a housing allowance." "They take care of their warriors," he added.
Murrieta, CA is home to many retired veterans. Brothers Redmond and Ryan live a mile away from one and another, which provides ample opportunity to visit and pal around. When the brothers are out together folks will take notice of Redmond's prosthesis and take a moment to thank him for his service. Redmond always reminds them that his brother also served his country. They often encounter Vietnam Vets that for the most part seem to be at peace even though people treated those veterans like trash when they came back. "Thankfully we came home to a supportive nation with far less hippies," Ryan points out.
All three brothers put their lives on the line for a grateful country and returned heroes. Randy is a decorated Swat Team member while Redmond and Randy are working on their degrees.
In the years ahead many of our warriors will return home to their families, work, and school. Sadly, some will never completely leave the sands of Iraq and Afghanistan behind and many others will carry the wounds received for the rest of their lives.
As Americans, we have an obligation to these warriors and their families to help them heal when possible and give a hand up when necessary. Local and national organizations are ready to help, but the most effective help starts in our neighborhoods and communities. Whether it's rehabilitating a house for a wounded warrior or volunteering on a hotline, every little bit helps.
These men and women deserve our thanks and support for their selfless sacrifice on behalf of our country.