The Velvet Hammer
January 28, 2010
Wheels up... Senator Hatch sent a letter just read... Lots at stake I pray to be equal to the large task. I have responsibility as head of security for 110 souls in one of the harshest environments in recorded history. See ya soon. January 28 at 1:45pm
On the ground... First one off the plane and was met by the 82nd Airborne Division. We will have a full company of airborne that will be helping us secure... Relief... Met with ICE tonight and went outside the wire to perform a medical with three doctors... Moving folks to a compound and tomorrow begin missions to go get victims and provide medical. January 28 at 11:43pm
January 29, 2010
got one hour of sleep since I left... met with the president of Haiti and the u.s. Ambassador today in an attempt to get the orphans out... This place is pretty sad. January 29 at 9:14am
Watch NBC world news today/night January 29 at 2:20pm
Ok... Visited the U.S. Embassy, visited the president of Haiti (protected Steve), prime minister of Haiti, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti several times... Ran a mission deep into destruction zone... Smells, visuals, poverty, hoarding, UN (?)... many nations heavily armed... Human trafficking, worked with ICE again, ran other mission (many)... Helo traffic very high... Food distribution looks spotted... We stayed alert and hard looking... No negative contacts but many contacts... Got 60 plus orphans to the united states :)... Haiti is complex... Had to return a dozen plus orphans on a three hour mission that was supposed to rake one to the orphanage after they thought they were cleared because of Haitian politics... Saw the presidential palace destroyed... Saw guy brushing his teeth with street water... Had a returning orphan boy cry with a pathetic moan when he found out he was not going to America... Met British contract security... Am completely smoked. January 29 at 6:05pm
January 30, 2010
In the out reaches west side of Haiti delivering medical aid January 30 at 10:43am
Kids crying in pain for ANY reason is the worst by far... January 30 at 10:55am
Helicopter support from the comfort being coordinated.. I briefed everyone on helo operations and safety this morning... Gotta move January 30 at 10:57am
Smokin hot :) January 30 at 2:19pm
I'm to tierd to post anything that needs thought January 30 at 4:41pm
Still on mission January 30 at 5:31pm
Outta the field now leadership meeting to evaluate the day... Before bed I will summarize January 30 at 6:59pm
Traveled far in a broken down truck... 3 hours on a broken road to secure doctors and nurses giving aid to broken people... I am glad I am here and this is not intended to be negative... Just honest. Huge wounds not treated since quake... Traveled through quake center... More smells, sights and complete destruction... Dispersed a gathering group of men looking hard at the women and children... Human trafficking still a top issue here... United Nations is completely incapable of delivering aid and supplies in a rapid way... Large crowds... Fires burning... Almost had a doctor (male) robbed or abducted... Some nurses refuse to go back out because of safety... Some because of the trauma and neglect... Field amputations... Smiled allot at the Haitian kids... Chased a man away that had a machete... Gang bangers showed up... No problems... 82nd had to chamber a round today... Our vehicles all got separated today... A doctor told me to shut up today because it was dark and I told them we needed to leave...he apologized... I think I will kill him... John is spent... I am smoked... More doctors feel unsafe... We cannot protect then all... They must be vigilant... One of my guys chambered a round and knocked a guy off his vehicle as he tried to get a ride... Visited three lds churchs and accessed conditions... Kids here are beautiful and so innocent... Loads of helicopter traffic...everyone leaves the main hospital at 5 pm and does not return until morning... Convey stopped in high risk area and dead end to get cokes... Bad... Very bad thing to do... Get one MRE per day... Very hungry.. Sleep on the ground... Don't mind... Did I say I was hungry? ... Miss my family... Will we really make a difference? ... Cab only try... Love you guys... Maybe sleep will come tonight :) January 30 at 9:03pm
January 31, 2010
Sacrament... Testimonies from Haitian members on the task force... Powerful, spiritual and meaningful... Spirits lifted, courage strengthened... Spirit present. Now back to the field. January 31 at 5:40am
82nd Airborne January 31 at 9:10am
Left to my own thoughts for a bit... Even though it has only been a couple days pizza is on my mind :)
Saw some major damage today again and a home where four people are still buried... They are everywhere... Occasionally they just burn a body on the side of the road... Never sure how they died... It appears that some food for the most part is getting out... Big rice and bean drops coming from the u.s.
Little wannabe gang bangers came up to us today so we took pictures of them then they said dollar dollar like we were supposed pay them... WRONG... First lesson for them in the would of Jager... We don't due bangers
Had a small piece of a local mango today and all I can say is WOW... Good :) January 31 at 3:17pm
Well... Four days without a shower... Gonna take one...ish in a minute... Can't wait. Found one of our people (happy valley) girl walking around alone down town... No one can confirm her whereabouts but we think she is with a construction team... Can't help folks that don't listen... No one can leave at night... My rule... UN and U.S. Military recommendation also. Night all love you... Spirits are fine... The medical teams worked all day at the Miami hospital and the university hospital... Word is the saved the day :) great people doing wonderful, hard things. January 31 at 4:54pm
February 1, 2010
Physically wearing down... All of us... Mentally strong but impacted by the scenes... Folks I think are becoming accustomed to the constant chaos... The next schock will only come with a long away return to our homes and comfortable lives. Gave an OPSGEAR coin (my only one) to a captain from the 82nd... He lit up like he just got a hamburger. The escort through town by the army was much sweeter than the technicals that burn oil as fast as gas... Thinking of my family right now and wondering how I will be able to articulate the wonder and impact of this place and the events. The people of Haiti are absolutely beautiful... The children play with sticks and are happy souls... Their true joy emanates from with and is reflected through their eyes in a heavenly way. There was a terrible accident yesterday (again) when a man was run over while on his motorcycle in front of one of the armies vehicles... Died in an awful way... Witness by the young army lieutenant in the photo between john and I... He would not stop talking about how not one vehicle would stop to help him... None of our task force was present... This is his first deployment and I had the chance to talk with him a bit... Another young soldier witnessing the burning bodies was also in shock...
The contrast of these seemingly happy children amongst complete devastation is something that I will reflect upon for a long while. February 1 at 2:12am
I think we are making a difference... Short term except for the orphans... their lives will be forever changed in the states :) I love and miss you ALL and appreciate your comments... They connect me more than I can express
The Neanderthal :) someone broke glass February 1 at 7:53am
www.ldsmag.com is posting daily something on the task force February 1 at 9:39am
Child kidnapping... Healing hands... Friends for life... Fatigue... Limited food but more than the locals... Planning missions... working with the 82nd command... Ran a night mission and didn't get far... Chambered a round tonight... Local rice and beans when we got back... they were all gone and I REALLY wanted some :( it's ok cause I are the rest of my one MRE per day. Occasionally here gun fire at night... The main part of the city by the airport is doing better and this is where most of the media is... But EVERYWHERE there are shanty towns with thousands... They don't trust the buildings that are left because of the death tool and number of quakes. Visited a remote orphanage today... Construction team doing good there... Kicked a soccer ball with some of the kids while rifle was slung. More... But I'm tired. February 1 at 8:48pm
February 2, 2010
Tomorrow we go to a place where 10,000 people are that have not had any medical since the quake. 82nd will be supporting this mission :)
The news that this place is normal or at previous quake conditions is ludicrous!!! We go DEEP into the landscape and it is medieval. Certain areas are doing better but those areas also depend completely on Aid. February 2 at 3:29pm
Last night... Today... Heating up... Lots of priesthood blessings being given to folks to buoy them up. Worked with some folks today to help get Bishops son back... Long process dealing with the scum of the earth. Please do not ask more about this as I won't be responding... Suffice it to say that we are bringing all resources to bear on this critical issue.
Had indigenous food for our meal cause bravo and I were in the outbacks today with a terp. Rice and beans with some unbelievable sauce and onions... Two bucks a plate on the street and cooked under a tarp... WOW good! I haven't got the BOO FU yet so I may eat more of it tomorrow :)
What else can I say but still here, alive and helping to lift, love and listen to all in my circle. February 2 at 3:42pm
Several nurses passed out today and are now on IVs... These folks are treating up to a couple hundred people a day per doctor... Crazy... It's like a bad episode of MASH. Many amputations because of the crush injuries and some of those that were done prior to our arrival were not finished correctly and in some cases requiring further amputation or surgery. Tonight many nurses sitting on the ground with 'the stare'. God bless them each one.. Talking to many the feeling is that we have been here for a lifetime. I cannot express my respect enough for the medical teams that are here on our task force... Volunteering for horror, disease, discomfort AND the quiet blessings that come to those that seek the path laid by the Master himself. I will never quit be the same... In mostly positive ways. Glad to stand watch over these good souls. February 2 at 6:07pm
February 3, 2010
Heading out to one of the remote larger tent cities... Gonna be a mission for sure... Gotta balance smiles with the velvet hammer. February 3 at 5:31am
I am so very tierd of crying under my sunglasses... My heart is broken and I struggle to stand upright... I want to fall to the ground and pound it... I am to sensitive to this world and it crushes me... Kids... Kids... More kids...they fight for a small bag of water... No food for some 14 days. The team is treating and we stand by idle watching for wolves. Wish I was doing more... February 3 at 10:20am
Treatment is over... Dropping critical man at hospital and then the base camp... I am dehydrated big time and know I am thin emotionally... Sorry about the last post... All is well. We treated over 350 patients today :) February 3 at 2:35pm
The 21 day deployment may be reduced to around 14 which means the task force will return next Wednesday... That's the good news. The other news is that Steve the task force commander asked me to stay in country for a second group of doctors, nurses and translators to provide security coordination with the 82nd Airborne. The reason is simply the stress on the folks here is high and many are spent or will be after another week with no time off. This will mean a month in country for me.. I'm good with it but some other activities John and I are involved in may mean an earlier return... Regardless John will be coming home on the rotation. I will miss him. If we are able to accomplish the mission of returning the Bishops son I too will come home when that is done most likely. I am weary after one week but that was expected. I will not recommend any new security personnel as the 82nd and I will be all that is needed... I hope.
Found out that Steve spoke with Elder Ballard from the 12 apostles this week and each of our names were placed on the prayer rolls of the temple and prayed over during their weekly session... Grateful for that and each and every comment and prayer.
There is good communication between Steve the task force commander and the first presidency as well... The are aware and hopeful that we can do much good.
Two nurses came back to base midday today because they were just spent.... They are all my heros. February 3 at 6:54pm
February 4, 2010
What i see in Haiti: Soldiers holding children... Juice bottle toys... A starving baby... No mothers milk... An old lady waits to see a doctor and can barely open a plastic bag of water with her teeth... A soccer game... Return missionaries from Haiti completely loving the people... Well fed males lurking and watching... My brother in arms doing the deed... A Doctor look at me and say with intense yet broken eyes... "I can't fix this"... A baby delivered in camp... People rush to get water... Some with enough to sell... Many with nothing to eat. Tears... Smiles from the children... A Curious people... Natural selection... Tender giving... Complete fatigue... Hope amongst despair. A hung sheet for a home... A broken cot is a five star hotel... Streets full off people... Fields full of tents... Millions of tons of crushing concrete... Smells... Strange smells. A fire cooking... Rice and beans... Street vendors... Women walking with loads on their heads. I see helicopters flying and planes landing... There are rats crawling and bugs biting. I see bags of food with american flag emblems on them, i see the United Nation... People brushing their teeth in soiled water... A boy plays all day with a stick. A nurse collapses... A distant stare... I feel a sense of hope yet see a cycle of poverty. Sweat is constant and dehydration is a danger. In an operating room I see all manner of injuries and care given at the highest levels... Flags from many nations... Sri lanka, France, England, China, Japan, Brazil and many others. Peace keepers with guns and doctors with bags... I hear roosters to early and planes to late. I am filled with love and committed to good... I have witnessed more miracles in one week than in 48 years combined. I feel the pain of suffering and am a witness of the tender love of the savior... He loves these people... He manifests his light through their eyes... While evil is rampant, good is their nature... We extend a hand but retain the sword... To save life at times one must be prepared to take a life... Never a desire, in fact far from the heart... But a necessary posture to bring order and children home.
While Father above is in control, he allows the natural events of this earth take their course... The savior expects us to be his hands and to show his heart. we are the helping hands of Haiti.
Bring me your tired your lame and the halted, bring them hither...
David February 4 at 4:27am
Two doctors going home with meningitis to the states... One task force member being evacuated with severe dehydration. Around 40 folks are sick from out group... Combo of bad food, drink, poor hygiene and Haiti. Doing all I can to stay healthy but they predict an increase now that it is in camp... The BOO FU has hit :( February 4 at 7:17pm
So it's official... The task force phase one will return next Wednesday home... John will be on that return. I will be staying through the next deployment which will equal 28 days. I really miss my family and life... But this too is important.
The red cross and every other non government organization (NGO) reduced their deployments from 30 days to 7-14 because of the conditions. I will be fine... We will call it the Haiti diet a followup to the Israeli diet previously :) February 4 at 7:23pm
February 5, 2010
Awake and not feeling well... Not to bad yet, but feeling... Sick. I wanna loose more weight as planned but not in one night, this is ridiculous :) their are about 20 that are hard down with ivs... I'm the lucky one.
No worries... Just a simple Case of to much steak n eggs mingled with cafe rio to many times this week. If I have to drink another diet pepsi in a chilled glasss full of ice I think I will pass out... :-) February 5 at 1:22am
Channel 4 just interviewed me over phone will be on 5 or 6 pm. Spread word please... February 5 at 11:03am
What day is it? February 5 at 1:57pm
2000 units of saline with am IV and I'm on my feet again February 5 at 5:41pm
February 6, 2010
We have helicopter support and are taking teams up into the remote regions to provide care.
Everyone is in a constant state of discomfort but for the most part spirits are high.
I got an I.V. Last night with 2000 units of saline... Feel like a new man. Still have the BOO FU but I enjoy the challenge of keeping food in my stomach... The bummer part is there is not much food to begin with :)
I really want a five guy double cheese burger and some ice.
My body is covered in bug bites of various types but I am biting them back as much as possible.
The mission continues to change and politically get more complex as time goes on. The first week was much different than this past one.
There is so much to say but I don't have the ability or time to organize my thoughts completely right now. February 6 at 7:13am
Funny how when we first arrived in Haiti everyone greeted one another in the early morning with "how did you sleep?" or "how ya doing?". Now we greet each other with "how many times did you barf last night?" or "is the Dysentery still bothering you?" February 6 at 10:09am
I am so far removed from your worlds as I read your comments. Took a helicopter ride over the city today... Posted some photos.
Not to be melodramatic or anything but one could forget the rest of the civilized world existed given enough time here. The missionaries that have served here are better able to readapt but even then the circumstances are so much different than when they were here.
Gotta keep it together for just a few more days with these folks... Safe, safe and safer. February 6 at 8:33pm
February 7, 2010
A bumpy ride in an army truck... Dusty roads... Burning tires... Opens fires... Haze over a city shrouded with tin... A dog looking for a scrap... A man on a motor bike carrying a 20 foot long 2x4... A pug literally happy in mud... Goats live on the streets... Chickens run wild... Buses overloaded with possessions... Sacrament prayer offered in the open back of a military truck... A fast testimony... A closing prayer. A land of potential with complex issues... A people that starve for more than food. Some here are wise... Others are fools... There are cars full of people... No rules on the road... Survival of the fittest... A pedestrian is killed... The markets are crowded... There is plenty in town... The outlying areas have little to eat... Today a doctor goes home as his duties are done... I envy him. More bodies are recovered... It will take months to complete... A ride on a helo... A view from above... The city is massive... Hard to tell the destruction from the shanties... I read posts from home and cannot relate... This world is so different... It won't take me long to find my place at home... But it feels like a lifetime... I am still here. The rivers are grey... The ocean is not clean... The jungle is burning... I ate a small banana, It tasted like a thanksgiving feast... There are rumors of riots... More kidnappings are reported... At night bad things happen... Stay close to the many... I believe in my mission to protect human lives... Its hard to be tough when i just really wanna cry... I am strong to this task... God has prepared me to lead... I just was surprised at the scale of the disaster i would be charged with.
These thoughts are not all connected... Neither is Haiti. February 7 at 6:33am
On a food drop with 82nd February 7 at 9:31am
Just returned from a food drop with the 82nd Airborne. I hesitate to post the truth but here it is...
I have only been in genuine fear for my life a few times.. Today was one of them.
The thin line of order and riot can be divided by a simple gesture or act... I was the only civilian on this drop that lasted 5 hours... We had to terminate the first drop and triple our manpower to handle the crowds...
If you can carry a 110 pound bag of rice with two people you could have one until they were gone. Rarely can the feeble manage this.
A starving mob held back by a strand of razor wire and a few soldiers... Intense.
One woman was seemingly being helped by a younger man and there was a fierce argument going on... I asked the terp if the boy was with her and she immediately said no! ... He was the first of MANY I personally bounced out of the containment area with pleasure and grit.
One lady left while saying in creole "a bag of rice is not worth dying over", I felt the same way...
It seemed to be a vivid case of the strong getting stronger and the weak... Die or eat what's left on the streets. Haiti is a patriarchal society so the woman eat second and the kids last. That's why there ate lots of healthy males ready to carry rice bags.
The soldiers I was with said this is one of the worst drops they have been on. I wish I had words to tell you how remarkable our young soldiers are from the 82nd... Committed, focused and strong. It was an honor to be on mission with them.
Wish I had a dollar for every soldier that asked me if I wanted to trade my rifle :) the Steyr is a big hit with 82nd guys.
When we terminated the first drop early because of the mob... Hundreds gathered round our vehicles shouting obscenities to us and calling us and our country names... Go figure. I have seen starvation here and for the most part these folks were not... They were hoarding and most likely gonna resale on the black market.
Again, I salute the soldiers of the 319 82nd Airborne Division... Food drops are dangerous and hard... They each deserve a big medal for being here in Haiti. It is fun to find out where they are from and what they enjoy in life... I love these guys.
It is safe to say that food drops are not my favorite deal... Been on them here earlier but today was at a whole new level. February 7 at 6:03pm
Michael Buble' ... HOME February 7 at 6:40pm
February 8, 2010
www.utahhospitaltaskforce.com we are ALL returning on wednesday :) February 8 at 6:43am
Two days left... But who's counting :) February 8 at 7:39am
In route with 34 medical to another tent city to treat thousands... Bravo and I are together on this mission in case I need to rescue him :) February 8 at 7:43am
Just pass one of the largest mass grave dumping sites... :( February 8 at 8:33am
The countryside is beautiful with lots of native foods in the markets... So different from the capital and suburbs... A breath of fresh air... In route to a tent city for medical still... Long ride February 8 at 8:35am
Day 12: long drive through the country... Well organized orphanage run by Christian pastors... Jungle markets full of food.. A million miles from the congested city.
Palm Weaved roofs to hide the sun... A Godly man runs the village... Doctors and nurses giving aid... A wooden table makes a surgical station.
I teach the kids paper rock and scissors... The U.N. Appears and is angry that we are giving aid... Armed Jamaicans greet us with guns... A French officer is their lead... We greet with a smile and stroke our steyrs... We are friends... Give it a rest... They leave :)
The aid continues a baby cries... 107 Fever and tears. We ask for the critical in every town... They always bring babies first... Always.
Young men with crooked hats and cell phones scoff and scorn... I speak in quiet firm tones... They laugh and watch... Then leave at last with eyes fixed on the weak..
This place is an oasis in the land... Evil will always be in or around the seeds of good... But the good has the power to crush it where it stands if there is resolve and courage.
It was as if God himself knew that we needed to see another side of Haiti... Some hope that outside the destruction and chaos there is another place... A new location where the victims build a new life filled with order and promise.
The reality is that the masses ate still piled in one spot... A city of concrete and tin... What to do.
The little children have my heart... My soul is ripped again by the sights and sounds. A Christian choir sings heavenly tones... Everyone stops, listens and watches... The spirit is strong... Tears of gratitude, joy and immense understanding that again in a small but very real and powerful way... We are his hands... The helping hands of Haiti. February 8 at 9:26pm
February 9, 2010
Bravo and I are on a USAF C-17 ready to go to the states... The main group will begin the journey home tomorrow... We are leaving for reasons I would rather not discuss on Facebook... Suffice it to say among our many other duties we have been working on the abduction of a U.S. Citizen (three year old). Don't ask here PLEASE. America here I come :) February 9 at 5:45pm
On the ground in South Carolina :) February 9 at 9:01pm
February 10, 2010
America... 2 hours of sleep... Soft bed... No Mosquitos... Don't have to sanitize every time you touch someone... Porcelain :) ... The 3G network for the iPhone... No one is barfing... An American flag... Southern hospitality... People greeted us by the dozens upon arrival in customs with food and medical aid... A hundred texts incoming from a real telecom system... Food in a fridge... No eating from a foil sack... Water on demand that doesn't produce vomiting... Walmart and a new shirt and pair of pants at 2am :) clean air... People drive between lines on the road... Traffic lights... My buddy is safe... A sense of calm and safety... Not hyper vigilant for the first time in weeks... Relaxed... Full... Bad reaction to the pizza... A flask of milk... No real appetite... Guns are cleared on the flight... Last worry gone... Is all well? It appears it is... Family and friends next... My blessings overwhelm my senses... Will I ever see the world the same... No... I am humbled to the ground. February 10 at 4:32am
Atlanta... On the last leg... Thank you all so very much for the personal support, prayers and faith for the Utah Hospital Task Force - Haiti. February 10 at 8:14am
Home... :) Home February 10 at 3:32pm
February 12, 2010
When I close my eyes I see Haiti... Crowded streets... Concrete and tin... Dirty markets... Soldiers... Children... Doctors and nurses... My friends... They come home late tonight... I will be at peace when they arrive... I am home in body but still there in my mind... Reflections of a world the way it was before I got there and after I left... A world that will probably be the same for generations to come... I feel the draw to return... I will be back in Haiti... Much more to do. February 11 at 6:16am
The task force is back in Utah :) was wonderful to see them all safe and home... Forever changed. Well done my friends, you have redefined the word Hero in my heart. February 12 at 8:03am
February 15, 2010
Yes... I cannot stop thinking about it when I close my eyes too. It is trauma.. constant imagery, stress and worry. It was unnoticed by most of us while in country but is most likely manifesting itself now in all. Met one of the docs at dinner the other night... same thing for him. Time will help. The bond is very cool though... I feel like you guys are my best buds. February 15 at 8:20am
For all my friends from the Haiti task force... I am filled will the spirit of love for you, your goodness and sacrifice. While the deployment lasted two weeks the impact will last a lifetime... Be patient in the transition... Feel the love of the lord and his approval. I love each of you so very much.
3 Nephi 17:7
5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
7 Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
Home... :) February 16 at 11:36am