Lieutenant Colonel Richard Berrettini, United States Army
One of the most respected members of any combat team is that of the medic. His is the first name heard when the bullets are flying, the grenades are exploding, and all hell is being unleashed around the soldiers. He dresses the wounds, comforts the wounded, and holds the hands of the dying. His soldiers know he will put their well being above his own and for this reason alone they defend him with their own lives.
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Berrettini was just such a medic. He was serving his final few weeks of his deployment to the Khowst Province in Afghanistan as a part of a logistical task force where he provided medical care to his soldiers and Afghan villagers in the surrounding communities. On January 2, 2008 his Humvee was hit by an IED while returning to base. Berrettini was severely injured in the blast and died on January 11, 2008 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Berrettini was a member of the Pennsylvania National Guard which means he had a career in the civilian world. When not wearing his country's uniform, Berrettini spent his time giving medical attention to the school children of Port Allegany School District. Yes, this proud Army officer was the School Nurse. By all accounts he had the respect of the students in his care. I know for a fact the soldiers in his care held him in the highest esteem.
Berrettini went to Afghanistan because he knew he could do some good for the people there. He went to heal wounds rather than inflict them. I can think of no better way to bring peace to a region which has known nothing but war for as far back as anyone can remember. No doubt Berrettini believed offering health and hope to the Afghan people would be much more than they ever would get from the Islamofasicst Murdering Thugs bent on subjugating that people to their will.
He leaves behind a wife and two grown sons – both of whom have followed their father's trail and are currently serving in the US Army.
Godspeed to you, Colonel. Welcome home.