Region Eight Surgeon Turned Soldier Returns Home - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro — Kathy Morris Reports

Region Eight Surgeon Turned Soldier Returns Home

September 26, 2003 - Posted at 10:45pm

JONESBORO, AR -- Orthopedic Surgeon Spencer Guinn, MD joined the Army Reserves in 1999 after answering the call to do his part to help Americans and those around the world. The orthopedic surgeon was proud to follow in the footsteps of fellow family members who had served in the military, but he never thought his duty would take him to the middle of an Iraqi desert, and so close to death.

"They had told me back in December that there was a 90% chance that I was going to get called up in the next couple of months. You know, obviously once you get the phone call, you know, in the middle of the night, it's still a little shocking," said Guinn.

After that phone call, Major Guinn left Arkansas on Valentine's Day. He was attached to the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in early June, he was on his way to his first active duty deployment: Iraq.

Guinn explained, "We co-located with a combat support hospital, which is similar to what you might, if you ever watched MASH, it's kind of similar to a MASH unit."

The Major was in a mobile unit of 20 people who operated out of 2 tents.

"They would mortar our camp at night, and there were snipers, and everything else. There was another team like ours that was, you know, 150 meters or so away from us, and they got hit in the middle of the night, right next to us and took out half of their team," recalled Guinn. "The first convoy we did through Baghdad, one of the vehicles just in front of us got hit with a rocket propelled grenade and killed everybody inside."

Medical professionals used to saving lives quickly realized their own mortality.

"In my breast pocket I carried around pictures of my wife and baby with me all of the time, and, you know, some of these things seem a little corny like you might have seen in an old war movie or something, but when you're out there it takes on a different meaning," added Major Guinn.

The doctor rented a satellite phone for his trip to Iraq. Their conversations helped ease his wife's worries. After 4 months of dodging bullets, and patching up Americans and Iraqi soldiers and civilians who were hit by them, Major Spencer Guinn returned home, just missing his daughter's (Amelia) 2nd birthday.

The father remembered, "the sacrifices I was making, you know, leaving my family and leaving my practice and everything else, and going over to work with these young kids, it was definitely worth everything, you know, because those kids are the true heroes. The ones that are out there on a day to day basis."

Guinn hasn't returned to his Jonesboro practice just yet. He will take a few more days to transition back to life as a civilian. Because of a shortage of medical professionals in the military, Doctor Guinn expects to get orders again to return to Iraq within the next 6 months.

Powered by Frankly