The Lost Boys of Echo

On Sunday, three guys from Echo Battery, the unit I deployed to Iraq with, were struck by a roadside bomb. The first, Lopez, sustained third-degree burns over 50% of his body, and is burned a total of 95%. They have already amputated both his hands. Tapia, the second one hit, has third-degree burns over 25-50% of his body, and second degree burns over much of the rest. He also has a broken leg. Lovas, the driver, was the luckiest,” sustaining only second-degree burns (30%) and a broken wrist.

Lopez and Tapia are scheduled to be flown from Germany to the burn ward in San Antonio, TX sometime this weekend. That is, if Lopez makes it that far. He’s been in and out of the OR the whole time, and frankly, at least according to what my colonel told me, he’s not expected to make it much longer.

So, the waste continues. More lives forever changed by a colossal mistake, a colossal ongoing mistake. Every time I think about it, pictures of Tapia’s little daughter float into my mind, or I see Lovas’ crooked smile. I knew both of those guys pretty well; we deployed together, came back together, drank together a few times, and had a great working relationship. Tapia was there for the third time since the war started. Lopez I didn’t know so well, he’s a new guy who joined up after I’d left Echo. Still, Echo was a family to me for a long time (though a completely dysfunctional one), and it leaves a mark.

I also wonder about my buddy Mike, who, as Echo’s chief Corpsman (the Navy version of a medic) would have treated them. He was on really good terms with Tapia and Lovas, too. I hope he’s holding up, but I have no way of knowing until I hear from him.

If you’ve got a minute and are so inclined, say a prayer for Lopez, Tapia, and Lovas, their families, and the boys of Echo that are left behind in Iraq. If you’re not religious, good thoughts go a long way, too. I really would appreciate it.

Echo Battery Marines Iraq War

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