View Full Version : In war zone, a baby is saved

01-17-07, 07:56 PM
In war zone, a baby is saved
By Mike Gaffney/mgaffney@cnc.com
Wednesday, January 17, 2007 - Updated: 03:34 PM EST

War is an ugly thing. But the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines proved how extraordinary the human spirit can be even in the face of bloodshed by providing a baby Iraqi girl the medical treatment she needed to survive.

Greg Cinelli (see related story) was a friend and battalion-mate of Christopher Walsh, a Navy hospital corpsman who was among three soldiers killed last Labor Day when a roadside bomb went off underneath their armored Humvee.

Prior to his death, Walsh played a central role in a touching story that took place in a treacherous section of Fallujah.

In June, Walsh was patrolling the streets when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated near his vehicle. A triggerman was spotted entering a block of rundown buildings and a team of Marines launched a search for the insurgent.

Upon entering a building, the Marines were confronted by a frantic woman who yelled “baby sick, baby sick.” Walsh’s medical instincts kicked in and he agreed to examine the child.

“They went from pointing rifles at suspects to checking on a sick baby,” Cinelli recalled.

Walsh discovered the infant girl was born with an unusual deformity in that her bladder was outside her body.

It might sound hard to fathom in an active war zone, but Walsh and the rest of his platoon decided to make saving the baby a priority.

Cinelli said members of the battalion returned to the home at least a half-dozen times to care for the child.

The Marines carefully timed the visits under the cover of darkness and parked their military vehicles far away so they wouldn’t be detected.

Cinelli didn’t personally go into the home with Walsh, but was a member of a reaction force that stood by in case the soldiers encountered enemy resistance.

After Walsh’s death the rest of the battalion continued dropping by the home to look after the baby girl.

As their tour of duty neared completion, members of the battalion decided to ramp up the effort to save the baby Iraqi girl.

Word of the great risks Walsh and the other Marines took to treat the little girl slowly made its way up the military chain of command. Eventually higher ups cleared the way for the girl to be brought to Mass. General Hospital in October, where she underwent successful surgery.

Upon his return to the country, Cinelli was reunited with the toddler at MGH, where he got the chance to hold her in his arms.

Despite the extensive surgery the girl came through it OK and is expected to be fine.

“She’ll live very comfortably for a very long time, and a lot of that can be attributed to Chris,” Cinelli said.

The effort to get the girl medical assistance was, as Cinelli described, a befitting way to honor the memory of the three fallen Marines.

“Chris wouldn’t give up,” Cinelli said. “He refused to accept the idea that this little girl had to die.”