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The Balad Warriors Wall

bww_warrior_wall.pngWere you, or someone you know, wounded in the theater of operations after about August 2006 and then medically evacuated through the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) of the Combat Support Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq? If so, did you, or someone you know, sign the Warrior Walls in the patient lounge? Well then, we have some news for you. When the CASF was deactivated in 2011, providentially, the walls were saved.  They were carefully dismantled and shipped to the United States where several small walls are on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Ohio and the remaining larger walls are in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB. Over 30 members of 3rd ID signed the walls and they likely don’t even know that the walls were saved!

bww_article_2.jpgThese “Balad Walls” were originally imagined by retired SMSgt Karen Loalbo who, along with an exceptional team of medical personnel, had the honor and privilege of serving these warriors at the CASF.  Their primary mission was to receive, reassess, stage and ensure quality patient care while coordinating inter and intra-theater aeromedical evacuation for critical and non-critical patients to a higher echelon of care and their final destination. 

During her rotation in 2006, SMSgt Loalbo came up with a simple idea to reconfigure the existing “Patriot” lounge in order to allow better access for wheelchair bound patients and to create a warm and welcome environment for those patients experiencing the emotional toll of being in a high stress war zone.  Her idea was to provide a “canvas” where they could draw or write whatever came to mind on one whole wall of the lounge.  So, with pen and markers available to them, the “Warrior Wall” was born. One wall, became two walls, and eventually spreading throughout every wall and door in the lounge.  Wherever they could seize space, their words spoke powerfully with inspirational quotes, honor of country, pride in uniform, a committed belief in mission, profound regret for having to leave their buddies on the battlefield and a deep expression of homage to those who fought and died beside them in combat.  These unassuming walls became alive with thousands of written and drawn tributes. 

Personnel who served with the CASF have begun a project to have these walls moved from storage and placed in a central location so that those who signed them, and all Americans, can experience these important pieces of American history. We are asking for The Society of the 3rd ID support to contact other fellow military members, friends, family, and business associates to rally support so these walls may find a home that truly honors these warriors.  Visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/baladwarriorwall/ for more information.  Please Like and Share our page so we can get the word out.

article_1974.pngMore than simply a list of names, the walls show the heart and soul of our wounded warriors and are a poignant reminder of the unwavering courage and sacrifice of our military members. 

 

Submitted by LT. Col. Michael Fellows (USAF) and SMSGT Karen Loalbo (USAF, Ret.)

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