CPL Amber Endrusick, U.S. Army (2000-2009)

JANUARY RUNNER UP

PRESERVING A MILITARY LEGACY FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

The following Reflection represents CPL Amber Endrusick’s legacy of their military service from 2000 to 2009. If you are a Veteran, consider preserving a record of your own military service, including your memories and photographs, on Togetherweserved.com (TWS), the leading archive of living military history. The Service Reflections is an easy-to-complete self-interview, located on your TWS Military Service Page, which enables you to remember key people and events from your military service and the impact they made on your life.

Which individual(s) from your time in the military stand out as having had the most positive impact on you and why?:

His positivity and dedication to always doing the most good humanly possible impacted me for the rest of my life. We had some serious cases, hard things to see and deal with; we saw what human beings were capable of doing to each other in their darkest moments. We had rocks thrown at us and crowds begging us when there was nothing we could do. But through it all, Col Gonzalez held firm to his attitude of doing our best, rising above what we thought we could be, and, most importantly, always having faith in goodness. 

COL Diego J Gonzalez was my flight surgeon and one of the best men I’ve ever known. I was a 20-year-old kid with aspirations of changing the world, all bright-eyed and ready to do good. Instead, the realities of the world slapped me hard in the face. Thankfully, I had Col Gonzalez to teach and guide me. Our first deployment was in 2003 in support of KFOR5A, and I was one of two E4 medics in charge of an aid station for all three hundred soldiers in our task force. We went on pre-mobilization without a flight surgeon; we had no idea how to run an aid station or order supplies. I actually agreed to go on a date with the post supply Sgt to get two fully loaded black Hawk medical bags, and then we spent $200 of our own money at the local Walmart for bandaids and Tylenol. We were over our heads, nervous as hell to deploy, and then Doc Gonzalez volunteered to fill the flight surgeon slot. 

We flew over on civilian contracted commercial airlines, stopped in Gander, Newfoundland, and the local shop owner at the airport gave us all free moose milk ice cream. It was one of the strangest moments of my military career, a bunch of soldiers in full gear standing in a civilian airport eating moose milk ice cream cones, every one of us silently wondering how the hell they milk a moose. Once we got in country COL Gonzalez taught me how to be a good medic. How to go above and beyond what I was trained for, how to suture and diagnose. He got us involved in a Multinational MEDCAP effort where we went into villages to offer medical care for war-torn civilians. We organized the first radiology convention to kick-start the medical community getting ‘boots back on the ground’ after the mass genocide that scattered them all. We vaccinated children, responded to traumas, organized, and spent hours providing medical care, all on top of our normal aviation medical section duties. It made a difference that he wanted to go above and beyond his duties, to rarely sleep, always patiently to teach me, and most importantly, to never start a single day without saying good morning and asking how I slept. 

I stayed in contact with the Doc; he went on to a long army career and now is retired and delivering babies as his new career. We have made an effort to meet with our families for dinner at least once a year. I love seeing him smile at my healthy and happy daughters. It reminds me of the smile he would have on his face even when we were experiencing horror because Col Gonzalez always kept us in the light. I’m forever grateful for that. 

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Tags: KFOR5A, Military Memories of our Runner-Ups, Multinational MEDCAP

1 Comment

  1. Richard Whitehead

    That sounds like a father watching over a daughter.

    Reply

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