Within minutes of the explosion, a Humvee-mounted quick-reaction force, an armed UH-1N "Huey" and an AH-1J "Cobra" gunship were headed our way. They arrived just as a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter swooped in to evacuate the casualties. Less than 20 minutes after the blast that almost killed them, the two wounded Marines were in the air headed for the big British hospital at Camp Bastion.
Within hours, both men, suffering from shattered limbs and shrapnel wounds, were flown first to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and then to the National Naval Regional Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. By then, Sgt. Rauch was missing his left leg below the knee. His wife, Vanessa, met him there when he arrived.
Jackson's cameras and equipment in the Humvee were blasted to pieces and burned beyond recognition. He had a shrapnel wound in his right leg and undoubtedly a concussion from the explosion. Yet he refused to be evacuated, claiming that he stayed in the field because: "In every hour of videotape that Oliver North shoots, there are five or six really good seconds. I knew I could do better." That might have been true before the IED went off, but for several days while we waited for new gear to arrive, I had the only camera.
This week, Sgt. Rauch took leave from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he will be fitted soon for a prosthetic leg. He and Vanessa returned here to welcome his comrades in arms back from Afghanistan and for a reunion with Chris Jackson, who told them, "I only did what anyone else would have done in similar circumstances." With his lovely wife beside him, Sgt. Rauch said into our camera: "I would rather not have lost my leg, but I would do it all over again. I know we are making a difference."
It has been my great blessing to have spent most of my life in the company of heroes -- selfless people who put themselves at risk for the benefit of others. There is certainly no debate that the word defines Chris Jackson, Courtney Rauch and the young American volunteers here at Camp Lejeune. They deserve to have a commander in chief who knows that "victory" is not a four-letter word.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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