- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 6, 2003

   The road from Maryland to Baghdad has been long and treacherous for local Army reservists helping Iraqis re-establish their health care system.
   Members of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command in Riverdale Park have found themselves in harm’s way as they have shifted attention from their everyday lives to the rebuilding of a nation.
   Col. Robert Frame of Arnold, Md., is an oral surgeon by trade and an undersecretary of dentistry for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. He was selected for the mission by Jay Garner, leader of the Pentagon’s transitional administration for Iraq.
   Maj. Robert Donovan works as a sanitary engineer in Powhatan, Va.
   Spc. Jason Lang, 22, of Silver Spring serves as a biotechnologist.
   Last weekend, the soldiers were ambushed in downtown Baghdad but are expected to make a full recovery, a U.S. official said yesterday.
   Group members said the attack was likely planned because Mr. Garner had just named an Iraqi doctor as the interim leader of the country’s Ministry of Health, and the convoy was going to meet with him.
   They said the appointment of the Iraqi doctor could have angered Iraqi Shi’ites who wanted control of the ministry and that a religious order known as a “fatwa” had been issued against public health teams.
   “These people are trying to take the hospitals away from us and we’re not going to let them.” said Gen. Jack Kern, the 352nd’s commanding officer.
   Col. Frame was shot in the right arm, and Maj. Donovan was shot through the rib cage and has a collapsed lung. Spc. Lang was shot in the left thigh.
   Col. Frame and Maj. Donovan remain in Rota, Spain. Spc. Lang was treated and returned to Iraq, said Lt. Col. Mark Bowen of the 352 Command.
   “Colonel Frame has been instrumental in evaluating the Iraqi health situation,” Col. Bowen said. “If he recovers and is deemed fit, I know he’ll want to go back and we’ll want him back.”
   Health services are traditionally a bastion of power in poor countries because decisions about where to build hospitals or place medicines and doctors can affect the lives of millions.
   The soldiers were attacked Sunday morning on a busy downtown street as their two-vehicle convoy passed the intersection.
    Dr. Warner Anderson, a reservist colonel also in the convoy, recalled how a mosque was on one corner and a church on another.
    Moments later the windshield of his Humvee shattered when a sniper with an AK-47 shot at the vehicles and wounded the four American medical specialists, their translator and an Iraqi internist.
   Maj. Donovan was driving the lead vehicle and Col. Frame was a passenger. Spc. Lang, Col. Anderson and Dr. Ali Habib, the translator, were in the vehicle behind them.
   The five men were wearing the Army’s full “battle rattle” of desert fatigues, Kevlar helmet and flak jacket and were each armed with the standard-issue pistol. Spc. Lang had an M-16 automatic rifle.
   As the vehicles crawled through the intersection the gunman fired from a nearby bridge, piercing the Humvee’s canvas roof and doors.
   The bullet that struck Col. Frame’s arm ruptured an artery, which cause his blood pressure to drop and put him in shock.
   The bullet that struck Maj. Donovan in the ribs entered under the neck guard of his flak jacket.
   Col. Anderson was shot in the elbow and Dr. Habib was shot in the leg.
   When the shooting stopped, Col. Anderson exited the second vehicle to help Maj. Donovan, who was dazed. However, Col. Frame’s fatigues were covered in blood and his arm was lifeless.
   “Butch,” he told Col. Anderson, “I’ve been hit, and I’ve been hit real bad.”
   Col. Anderson was returning to his vehicle for a tourniquet when the gunman fired again. Despite being hit in the flak jacket and losing his prescription lenses, Col. Anderson, a former Special Forces medical instructor on his first reserve mission, grabbed the M-16 rifle and shot the sniper.
   “I used up all my luck on Sunday, every drop of it,” he said later. “You’re looking at the luckiest man alive.”
   Col. Anderson said he fired wild at first to stop the sniper from shooting, then killed him with two more shots.
   The vehicles became separated on their way to safety.
   Maj. Donovan, who had a bullet in his chest, followed Dr. Anderson’s order and peeled off the main road.
   He eventually reached a U.S. checkpoint and was taken to a field hospital in Medical City, home of the Ministry of Health and where victims in the second vehicle went for treatment.
   They were taken by helicopter to a surgical hospital, then a medical unit for further treatment.
   Vincent Taylor, the assistant secretary for administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation, is the acting commander of the 354 Civil Affairs Brigade and a personal associate of Col. Frame’s.
   He also was Col. Frame’s roommate while they were at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.
   “If you want to find someone who really cares about people, that’s Bob,” Mr. Taylor said. “He wanted to go out and make a difference.”

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