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thedrifter
04-23-06, 08:18 AM
Back from Iraq with goal accomplished Marines in doctor's care survived despite bombings, perils

Sunday, April 23, 2006
BY GENNADY SHEYNER
Republican-American

WATERBURY -- When Lt. Roger Boodoo began his tour in Iraq last September, he made it his personal mission to make sure no Marine dies in his care.

Seven months later, he was proud to say he accomplished that goal.

Earlier this month, Boodoo, 30, came back from Haditha, a city about 150 miles northwest of Baghdad. A Navy doctor, Boodoo was one of the two men in the station overseeing the treatment of Marines whose wounds were too serious to be treated by medical assistants, known as coremen, who traveled with the soldiers.

During his time in Iraq, he has frequently heard the sound of bombs exploding outside his station, making him wonder whether the Marines were bombing a target or becoming targets themselves.

"You heard them all the time," Boodoo said. "You can feel the blast wave and feel your ear drums pushing in."

Despite the dangers, Boodoo had little time to worry about his own life. His aid station was responsible for the well-being of about 1,700 Marines. He spent much of his time repairing fractured bones and applying tourniquets to soldiers bleeding from shrapnel wounds. Times were either really slow or extremely busy, he said.

"When it hit the fan, it really hit the fan," he said.

Boodoo still remembers his first major case. Within a week of his arrival, a Marine was brought into his station, his face blackened with smoke and his legs torn apart by an improvised explosive device his vehicle came upon. Boodoo and his assistants bandaged the Marine's legs and made sure he was promptly flown to Al Anbar province, to a hospital there for surgery.

Months later, he saw the Marine at a hospital. The Marine was able to walk on his own, although with a limp.

Because the Marines wore heavy body armor, the bulk of his cases involved injured limbs and ruptured ear drums, Boodoo said. More than half of these wounds resulted from improvised explosive devices, he said.

Boodoo, who graduated from Drexel University in 2000 and from Uniform Services University of the Health Sciences in 2004, said he became increasingly confident in his abilities over time. As a student in Kaynor Technical High School, from where he graduated in 1993, he planned on becoming a plumber.

Shortly after graduation, he joined the Navy and switched to medicine because he wanted to see the world. By the time he went to Iraq, he felt he was well prepared.

"The mission was daunting at first, but I knew I received good training and I knew that no one in the station knew medicine better than me." he said.

The seven months felt much longer for his family. His father, Lawton Boodoo, posted a map of Iraq on the refrigerator and circled all the areas where he thought his son may have been traveling.

His parents, who immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago, said they were proud of their son.

His mother, Salmatee Boodoo, said she was thought about her son every day while he was away.

His sister, Geeta Ramnath, said she would smile all day after receiving the rare phone call or e-mail from Iraq. His fiancee, Alicia Zamir, of Enfield, said she constantly followed the news, hoping for a rare mention of the area where Boodoo was stationed.

"He served his country and we are very happy that we have him back and in one piece,"Salmatee Boodoo said.

Ellie