• Chapter 70: G+10

    March 6, 2016
  • First Night Together

    Most of Bagdad, including the Nova hotel, was still without electricity. So, there would be no hot water for the guests, and elevators didn't work. The Red Cross team thought it best not to try to move the stretcher-borne prisoners up the stairways so the injured would be kept on the ground floor.

    As the Red Cross prepared for their arrival, buses collected the remaining POWs from their jails and brought them to the Nova hotel. Rhonda Cornum (pictured here) and Troy Dunlap were not reunited until they were in the lobby. They immediately went searching for their friend, Dan Stamaris. Dan was being kept downstairs with the other wounded POWs.

    The Red Cross medical personnel wanted to keep Major Cornum with Dan and the other injured, but she insisted that she didn't need medical treatment and that she could make it upstairs despite her multitude of injuries. Troy helped her up the four flights of stairs to the American floor.

    Each person was given a private room. However, after their solitary confinement, they all wanted to be together, so they congregated in a single room to swap stories. After their imprisonment, they wanted to be with one another. They all swapped stories and ate their fill of food delivered by the Red Cross volunteers. Doctor Cornum warned them that their digestive systems would probably not tolerate all of the rich food they were devouring, but they didn't care. They ate until they could eat no more, then most spend the rest of the night running to the bathroom.

    As evening turned into night, each of the men drifted away to find a shower. Guy Hunter and Cliff Acree shared a room for the night. Troy left Major Cornum long enough to take a much-needed shower, and then returned to help her into their room. He helped her into the bathroom and cleaned her up as best he could. He washed her hair in the sink and try to brush out the many tangles. Once they were both clean, they decided to go back downstairs to visit with Dan Stamaris and search for Bill Andrews, the pilot that they had been sent to rescue.

    They found Captain Andrews on a stretcher on the first floor along with Andy McNab's friend Mark, Dan Stamaris, and Major Joseph Small. Mark had been shot through the foot on the day of his capture. The Iraqis used his wound for a source of torture rather than letting it heal. By now, his foot was in such bad shape that Mark and Andy feared that he might lose it. Fortunately, Mark recovered from the wound and did not lose his foot. Major Small had been shot down on the last day of the war. A bad parachute landing left him hanging in a tree with a compound fracture to his leg. Stamaris was in the worst condition of all with a broken pelvis.

    Major Cornum introduced herself and Dunlap, concluding with: "... Our helicopter was shot down while we were coming to rescue you." He thanked her, and they visited for some time about their ordeals. Troy and Rhonda spent more time visiting with Sergeant Stamaris before going upstairs to get some sleep.

    Later they moved off to separate rooms. Troy Dunlap stayed with Rhonda like a protective older brother even though he was nearly young enough to be her son. Cliff Acree and Guy Hunter locked themselves in a room together and wedged a chair against the door.

    “Fear cuts deeper than swords.” 
    ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

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