Medic couple is home from Iraq
Their drinks sweated during their welcome home party, but the heat and mugginess of Pembroke was nothing like the hot desert where married medics Heather Maddy and Mac White spent the last 10 months.
Maddy, 23, said the weather in Iraq was “like somebody had a hair dryer just blowing at you.”
Back home, the couple have 90 days off from drilling with the Army Reserve. That’s just enough time to readjust to paying bills, U.S. gas prices and not wearing the same uniform every day.
More than 30 family members and friends helped them readjust during the weekend at Maddy’s grandmother’s house, at 631 Washington St. Many of the revelers had not seen Maddy and White since they left for Iraq last August, just months after they got married in Plymouth.
Maddy and White volunteered to serve in Tikrit, northeast of Baghdad. After finding out that they could go together and work in the same hospital, they grabbed the chance.
Maddy, who graduated from Hanover High School in 2002 and enlisted as an Army Reserve nurse that same year, was taking nursing classes at UMass-Boston and working as an operating room technician at South Shore Hospital.
White, a Texan who enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2003, was working as a corrections officer at Bridgewater State Hospital.
The two met in 2004 at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford. They are assigned to the Worcester-based 405th Combat Support Hospital.
In Tikrit, they spent more time together than ever before. They lived in a small room on base and worked in the same hospital, he as an emergency room medic and she as an OR technician.
They had each other to talk to about trauma injuries and soldiers on the brink of death. They also talked about the Iraqis they treated – and they treated more Iraqis than Americans.
“We treated old people, women, babies, everybody. Good guys and bad guys,” Maddy said .
Because the hospital was a tent, troops with serious face and eye injuries were flown to hospitals in Beloit, Baghdad or the United States.
White treated one soldier who had been shot above his right clavicle. Three months later, he saw the soldier lifting weights in a gym.
“It was a great feeling,” White said.
Now they’re home and house hunting. But even if they’re more permanently settled in Massachusetts, nothing will keep them from going back to Iraq to serve. They just re-enlisted in the Reserve for six more years
“It’s indescribable how good we feel,” Maddy said. “People were so grateful we were there. It made us want to do more.”
Abbie Swanson may be reached at email@example.com.