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01-22-08, 07:58 AM
Journal from the front lines: Gastonia doctor shares his experiences in Iraq
By Fran Farlow
January 21, 2008 - 5:05PM

Dr. Scott Hovis never wanted to sit behind a desk.

He’s always craved excitement in his life whether playing defense for the East Gaton Warriors or learning to fly a plane.

Now as a flight surgeon in Iraq, he’s getting plenty of adrenline-packed action and flying time as he uses his skills as a surgeon to bring aid to wounded soldiers.

The path that led him to the battlefields of Iraq has been an interesting one.

From high school he went to the Air Force Academy where, after a year, he was disqualified because of his vision. Figuring he’d be placed behind a desk, he left and enlisted in the Marines. After the Marines he enrolled as an engineering major at N.C. State, then went into medicine.

Now he’s on a six-month leave from Gastonia Surgical Associates to serve in Iraq.
While he’s away, big things will be happening at home.

He and his wife will be having a baby in March, their third daughter.

Hovis will miss that delivery in person, his wife's doctor hopes to be able to connect with him live, using the new technology at the hospital.

During his time in Iraq, Dr. Hovis will be sharing his experiences with his family and Gazette readers

Here are excerpts from two of those e-mails.


The rainy season has started here this week. It rained one whole day and night. The whole camp turned into one giant mud hole. It’s supposed to rain off and on until mid-February.
It is still pretty cold here, dipping into the low thirties at night now. Otherwise, it’s just the desert.

I have found some other musicians and have started playing guitar in a band. We play as a praise band at the worship services on Sunday mornings. I like that.

I’m still doing a lot of primary care medicine here and doing a lot of flying — both troop transport and Medevac missions. The pilots have heard that their new flight surgeon is actually a surgeon so a bit of my “primary care” is removing cysts and lumps and bumps and such as that.

I’m doing real surgery once a week at the Naval Hospital in Arifjan. It’s slow, but that’s a good thing. I am also on the alert roster for two more level one trauma centers in Iraq now. If they get any big mass casualty scenarios, they will call me and my commander is adamant that will fly me anywhere I need to go to do surgery.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers. Please keep us and all of the soldiers in your prayers, especially through the holiday season.

We all miss our families but they understand and support what we’re doing as well.
Especially keep the boys further north in Iraq in your prayers. They have it a lot worse that I do right now.

I see all around the amount of good the U.S. is doing in this region. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to participate in it in even a small way.


It has been cold here. It snowed in Baghdad one day last week. The people said that was the “first time in memory” that it had snowed there. We got rain this far south, but it was right at the freezing mark.

I’m still operating once in a while but not very much. Still flying more than I am operating. I’m also on the lecture circuit now. I have started doing a lot of training with the medics and with some of the other doctors as well. Most of the doctors here are Navy doctors who practice some type of internal medicine subspecialty. They don’t have much trauma experience so I have been doing some training with them in basic trauma care. It has been good for me as well as them.

The Christian music group Third Day was here last night as part of a USO tour. I went to see them and that was enjoyable. They are really a bunch of nice, down-to-Earth guys.

We have what we call combat life savers in the Army. These are enlisted soldiers who have no medical training that we train in some basic patient care. We try to get a couple from each company. Their job is basically to stabilize and provide advanced first aid and life support in a combat environment until a soldier can be seen by a medic. We did a battalion-wide training last week. You can see my extreme self-sacrifice for the war effort by letting young privates and PFCs with the medical training stick needles into me to learn how to place IVs. Actually, it was a lot of fun and they did very well.

As always, thank you all very much for your continued thoughts, prayers, emails and letters. Time is really passing quickly and I will be home again before you know it. God bless you all!