“I don’t think too many foreigners or white folk have made it down to this part of the world without being eaten by headhunters.”

I suddenly wished that I had more ammunition for my pistol.

About the author

Brian Bewley is a retired SF CWO who served with 1st & 7th SFG(A)s, USMILGRP El Sal, and SFUWO in Key West. Upon his retirement, he served as an Advisor to the UAE Special Operations Command and a Security Manager in Baghdad and Yemen. Brian and his wife S. Jessica established Tactical Solutions International, Inc. in early 2003.

“The Untold Missions” … Tasks of Special Operations other than killing bad guys

“Doctor Brian! Doctor Brian! Come quickly!”

I had just closed my eyes, having spent ten minutes maneuvering my wounded body onto the hard wooden floor of my jungle home, finding relative safety and protection from the blood sucking insects that were thick on my mosquito net.

I felt the tension, pain and fatigue of my body begin to melt away as my muscles slowly began to relax, forming to the gray-green, army issued sleeping pad under my back.

Flat on my back was the only position that I could tolerate since my L3/L4 discectomy four weeks prior, thanks to a night-combat equipment-O2 HALO jump and a zero-visibility full-flight greeting of Mother Earth.

I was temporarily a “broke dick…”

“Suck it up Pussy!” was a now common greeting from my loving team-mates.

I was really looking forward to this mid-day nap!

“Doctor Brian Please!”

I felt the heavy footsteps of the nurse resonating through the rough wooden slat floor as she ascended the eighteen odd, wooden steps up to the door of our house.

Our “house” was a two-room wooden hut built on stilts, situated in the lush green jungle approximately 75 meters from the dirt main street which passed through our newly adopted town of Kupiano.

The town’s people presented this fine structure to my Team Sergeant Steve and I to serve as our home for the next six weeks as we attempted to bring a small part of the modern world into the desolate, untamed wilds of the Papua New Guinean jungle.

“Doctor Brian, you must hurry!”

‘Shit, so much for my peace and quiet and much needed nap…’

I fumed. Without knocking or otherwise announcing her arrival, Nurse Mary forced open the thin door to our humble abode and entered with a sense of urgency.

Nurse Mary was a transplant from Port Moresby who had moved to Kupiano many years prior to help some of the most remote villages with some form of health care.

She received her basic medical training somewhere along the way and was one of two nurses working at the clinic.

Mary was a very heavyset woman with breasts the size of yearling pigs that hung down to her thick waist.

Her facial features, skin color and hair were identical to all other New Guineans that I had met, as if somehow, she and the other local New Guineans were all formed from the same mold.

She served as the senior nurse at the Kupiano Health Clinic and always wore a clean, brilliant white nurses’ uniform complete with a matching white antique nursing hat…and those thick black glasses!

“Doctor Brian! Get up man! There is a woman about to go into labor in the clinic! We need you now!” yelled Mary in her Pigeon accented voice.

With a few grunts and without speaking, I slowly began the painful ritual of exiting my mosquito net which consisted of rolling onto my belly and gently crawling onto the hardwood floor.

Once free from the net, I would gingerly raise my upper torso and if lucky, I would be able to pull my knees up under my chest without eliciting the normal spasms of pain.

Those witnessing this slow, painful maneuver would often remark “Suck it up Pussy!”

Mary immediately moved to my side and began assisting me to my feet, a process that took two full minutes!

Once upright however, I was able to move unhindered and with seemingly great speed.

“Thanks Mary!” I grunted.

I had arrived into Port Moresby, the capitol of Papua New Guinea, six months prior to begin my initial assessment and pre-mission planning.

This mission was a Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) directed operation which had been passed down the chain of command ultimately landing in the lap of my Special Forces A-Team.

The mission was multi-faceted…

1. Train and assist the Second Battalion Royal Pacific Islands Regiment (2 RPIR) of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force in their preparation for combat operations against the B.R.A., a guerrilla organization who was operating on the island of Bougainville, to the south of Papua New Guinea.

And 2. Conduct a Medical and Engineering Civic Action Project deep in the jungles south of Port Moresby to win hearts and minds of the local population.

We would have six weeks to accomplish the mission.

This tasking would have been a challenge for a much larger military element, but for our 12-man A-Team it was another day at the office.

As the current SFODA commander and primary mission planner, I met with the US Defense Attaché, the US Ambassador and the 2 RPPIR commander, LTC Jerry Singarok to fine-tune the tasking.

It was the perfect SF mission; Train a battalion of foreign soldiers for combat, and while at it, win the hearts and minds of the civilian populous with some much-needed good deeds.

Our “good deeds” were to rebuild a dilapidated jungle hospital, train and/or retrain the hospital staff, stock the hospital with meds and supplies…

… and have it ready for the US Ambassador’s ribbon-cutting ceremony upon completion of our mission…

… and by the way, while we were doing that, there were seven remote villages that quite possibly had never seen a Westerner, that needed medical treatment, medical survey and inoculation.

‘Not a problem! No sky too high, no sea too deep, no muff too tuff!’

There is no-fuckin’ way one SFODA is going to accomplish all of that…

“What do you mean that you agreed to everything they wanted?!

There is no-fuckin’ way one SFODA is going to accomplish all of that in that amount of time!

Hell! I don’t even think a Company could do all of this shit in six weeks!” boomed my boss.

I do not recall ever seeing my Battalion Commander this angry before.

He was frothing, spittle gathering at the corners of his mouth as he was leaning on his large, wooden desk.

“God damn it Chief; you get your ass back down to Papua New Guinea and get this unfucked!”

I knew that my window of opportunity for rebuttal was rapidly diminishing, but as the commander paused to catch his breath, the words seemed to roll off my tongue.

“Sir, according to doctrine, one SFODA is capable of training a guerrilla battalion in combat.

I have personally trained a similar battalion sized force, in combat, in a foreign language and had absolutely no problems!

My team can do this.”

He just stared at me, his mouth agape, maybe allowing my words to slowly register into his brain.

He then looked down at his desk and slowly began shaking his head as if he could not believe what he had just heard.

When he finally looked up at me, his gaze pierced my soul.

“You take your team down there, and you do this mission.

But be warned, I will have your ass if you fuck this up!’

“Chief, the MRI shows a substantial disc bulge at L3/L4 and a noticeable narrowing between L5/S1.

You snake-eaters need to take it easy on your body

We recommend going in and trimming the bulged disc to relieve the pressure on the nerves, a somewhat simple procedure known as a discectomy.

If successful, you should be almost as good as new, but it will take you awhile.

You snake-eaters need to take it easy on your body.”

Dr. Smith was a renowned military neurosurgeon, and a specialist in this field.

He had flown to Okinawa, Japan from Hawaii to see his growing list of patients.

It looked as if I were about to add my name to his illustrious patient list for what sounded like a simple operation. “To cut is to cure…” my medic would continually remind me.

The summer blue US Air Force uniform that he wore, complete with shiny silver eagles of a full bird Colonel, seemed to provide the authority and competency that I needed to agree to go under his knife.

“We will have you scheduled for pre-op next Wednesday, conduct the procedure on Thursday, and you should be home by next Monday or Tuesday, ready for 30 days of convalescent leave.

See the Corpsman at reception for your Pre-Op packet.”

‘Humph, I am supposed to be in Papua New Guinea the following Monday after the surgery…

Hell, I should be OK!”

I do not remember coming out of post-op recovery, nor being wheeled to my room.

I was given a self-activated intravenous feed of Demerol, which kept me in a post-surgical haze for most of the next few days.

I do remember, very vividly, the day that they removed the Demerol machine from my grasp.

I cried for my pharmaceutical “friend” for quite some time, but she was gone.

Dr. Smith arrived at the foot of my bed sometime during that long Tuesday afternoon, to check on his star patient.

“How are you feeling Chief Bewley?”

My mind still reeling from the shock of no Demerol, spoke without thought.

“Doc, it feels like you ripped out my spine!”

I could tell from the way he was now fidgeting with my chart that he must had given me that “super special” treatment.

“Chief, when we actually got you opened up and had a good look, the disk was in pretty poor condition, so we had to remove it.

We placed some bone material in the void, and you should heal quite nicely.”

It did not really register at the time what he had just said, but I would soon “feel” his words for a long time to come.

“Chief, are you fuckin’ crazy!

There ain’t no-way you gonna be able to fly on Monday!

You are still bleeding!

They gave you 30 days convalescent leave for a reason, so take it and enjoy it.

We will send someone else down to Papua New Guinea, don’t you worry about it!”

Ben Clayborne was my new team commander and one hell of a good guy.

Not only did he somewhat resemble me with matching bald heads, but our vision of the execution of the Papua New Guinea mission was of the same thought.

He knew that there was no way to keep me from boarding that plane, but as the commander, he had to speak the party line and offer me an “out.”

“Fuck that Sir! I planned this thing, and I am going… I just may be a bit slow for the next couple days is all.”

On Monday afternoon, I was heading down to Naha International Airport on the southwestern coast of Okinawa, for a multi-day plane-ride to our mission site.

Luckily, Steve my Team Sergeant/Medic was with me to carry my baggage!

We would not really know anything until the aircraft was twenty minutes out from the drop-zone

The plan was simple…

Steve and I would arrive in Port Moresby a few days before the team and we would coordinate the final aspects of the mission with the 2 RPIR command in Taurama Barracks.

On the morning of the teams scheduled arrival, we would move from Taurama by boat to a planned position two miles off the coast and set-up a water drop zone.

A USMC C-130 Hercules flying from Futenma Marine Corp Air Station, would fly overhead and drop two parachute rigged Zodiac F470 rubber boats in a technique known as a “Double Duck.”

Our teammates would then exit the aircraft, parachuting into the sea, de-rig the “Ducks” and would then transit to the beach at Taurama where waiting trucks would transport boats and personnel to our preplanned storage facility.

We would then conduct a brief “Opening Ceremony,” after which the team and equipment would move to Goldie River and begin combat training of the 2 RPIR.

Steve and I, along with 6 soldiers from the 2 RPIR Engineer section would load trucks and travel five and a half hours south to the town of Kupiano to begin the Medical and Engineer Civic Action Project.

Lots of moving parts, but I knew my team, our capabilities and the “can-do” attitude of each man would make this operation flawless.

The trip from the Hotel in downtown Port Moresby to Taurama Barracks carried Steve and I along the southern port coast and wound past the colorful shanty village that was built on stilts in the clear blue waters of the sea.

Coconut palms lined the beach, with thick, green jungle swallowing the hillside on the opposite side of the road.

The people, all identical in features and looks, wandered aimlessly along the road, stopping to peer at our vehicle as it sped past, hoping we would stop and offer them a ride.

Neither Steve nor I spoke, each in our own little worlds of thought, but we both similarly hoped that the next few hours would pass without complication.

We had not received any communications from our team on their departure and would not really know anything until the aircraft was twenty minutes out from the drop-zone, on its jump run.

The parachute drop was planned for 1245 hours. It was now 1030.

Steve steadied the small aluminum boat, as I crawled slowly and gingerly onto one of the two fixed-aluminum seats.

I carried the Magellan GPS and Steve had all the communications and medical gear.

Our coxswain, a Lieutenant from the 2 RPIR maneuvered the boat effortlessly away from the old wooden dock, and we began our slow passage along the narrow, brackish water channel out towards the open sea.

Three other boats of the same design followed us, all tasked with the mission of moving to a parachutist once he landed in the water.

I powered up the GPS and watched intently as the screen began to input our direction, speed and distance to the center of the pre-planned drop zone.

All Jumpers away… D-bags clear, we will see you in Port Moresby!

My watch indicated 1240 hours.

Scanning the horizon with my binoculars, I could barely make out the features of the aircraft as it approached the DZ. Steve was frantically rechecking the frequencies of the radio when the pilots voice broke squelch.

“DZ, DZ, this is MC-130 in-bound to your location… do you copy over?”

Steve wasted no time in responding.

“Roger MC-130. This is DZ…good copy! Safety boat is in the water at release point. Cleared to drop over.”

As Steve was busy talking with the pilot of the C-130, I pulled the anemometer from its OD green pouch and held it up into the air to check the wind speed over the drop zone… it read 4 knots constant.

“Steve…wind is 4 knots and steady.”

Steve immediately relayed the information to the inbound bird.

“MC-130…winds 4 knots over.”

“Roger that DZ, 4 knots…we are six minutes out…”

The C-130 passed directly overhead when we saw the “Double Duck” slide off the ramp, its parachute streaming from its container, inflating and slowly descending the boats and platform to the calm sea below.

Immediately following the “duck”, the miniature bodies of my team mates began to appear as they stepped off the C-130 ramp, 1200 feet above the water…one, two, three…

When all ten parachutes where inflated and drifting towards the warm, blue waters of the drop zone, the C-130 yawed right and left, its wings waving a ‘Good bye’ “DZ this is MC-130…

All Jumpers away…

D-bags clear, we will see you in Port Moresby!”

Steve turned off the radio and we began our slow movement towards our designated jumper.

All other boats immediately began tracking and moving towards their parachutists point of impact without order.

The safety boats were briefed to move to the parachutists once they hit the water and assist them with the removal of their parachutes.

Once the jumpers were free from the water filled parachutes, the chutes had to be recovered into the boat before they sank.

The jumpers would then swim to the “Duck” and begin the process of de-rigging and preparation required for transit to the shore.

Within 10 minutes, all chutes were recovered, and the team had the Zodiac F-470s operational and ready to begin their movement towards Taurama.

So far, so good…

I wondered who would accept $100 bills in the jungle

The Opening Ceremony was in the typical military tradition.

The 2 RPIR Battalion was formed in the battalion parade square, and the newly arrived American SFODA was introduced in a fanfare fit for Heads of State.

As per our plan, when the festivities were completed, Captain Ben Clayborne and the team would immediately move with the battalion to Goldie River, while Steve and I prepared for our movement to Kupiano.

Steve and I said our hellos and our goodbyes to the team, and we then went our separate ways to accomplish our critical military tasks.

Things were going according to plan.

The drive to Kupiano was long, hot and painful.

Kupiano was a couple hundred miles south of Port Moresby in the middle of nowhere, accessed only via a pothole filled, red clay road with thick jungle on lining the sides of the track.

Steve and I both traveled in a rented Toyota 4×4 pickup, complete with a cassette deck that allowed Steve to play his endless collection of Madonna hits.

The bed of our truck was filled with supplies and our personal gear.

I carried a $40,000 operational fund, all in crisp $100 dollar bills, strapped to my waist in a small bag, and my M9 Berretta 9mm pistol tucked into the waistband of my worn levis.

I wondered who would accept $100 bills in the jungle, but ‘What the heck…’ I thought.

Two large military trucks followed our Toyota, both carrying heavy materials needed in construction and an array of medical equipment.

The 2RPIR Engineers sat high atop the trucks shouting and whistling at every woman that the truck passed along the route.

Boys are the same anywhere in the world.

After 3 hours into our journey, we stopped in a small village named Kwick Killa for a much-needed stretch, piss and drink of hot water.

I wondered where the town had acquired its name, but by the looks of the old, rural community, I could only imagine the worst.

I hoped that our truck would start…”

I don’t think too many foreigners or white folk have made it down to this part of the world without being eaten by headhunters.”

I mentioned to Steve.

I suddenly wished that I had more ammunition for my pistol.

Steve chuckled as he hit rewind on the endless Madonna tape.

Another hour and a half out of Kwick Killa, the military trucks flashed their lights to get us to stop.

We had just crossed what seemed to be a major river, via an old, rickety wooden bridge.

The soldiers got down, stretched and pulled a box of fruit from the cab of the lead truck.

It must be snack time.

I accepted a bright green apple from Sergeant Jakkie, a large boned man, with hands the size of baseball mitts.

He was the senior Engineer and was in command of the other five soldiers.

I slowly walked down the road to the bridge and watched the fast moving, dirt red water flowing through the bridge pylons.

It was beyond hot… maybe it was just the humidity, and the flies seemed to come out of the thick, green jungle in a cloud.

“We must getta road going” said Jakkie in his unique Pigeon accent as I walked up to the group of Engineers.

“Dem’ Bad Boys choppa you with machetes and fuck you in a ditch!”

“Fuck you in a ditch! What the hell is that!” Steve asked loudly of Jakkie.

“Dem’ Bad Boys find you hea’ an they chop you. Then fuck you in the backsides and put you in the ditch.” Explained Jakkie.

Whoever these ‘Bad Boys’ were, I sure hoped that we didn’t meet them!

“Let’s get out here!” Steve said with some sense of urgency.

I could not help smiling to myself at what Jakkie had just said…

’Like a Virgin, kissed for the very first time…’

Madonna continued to wail as Steve coaxed the Toyota truck back to life.

This could not be the hospital… but it was.

The sun was just setting as our small convoy arrived at the rugged village of Kupiano.

The road was heavily rutted from the torrential rains of the previous month, so the going was quite slow.

The first tell-tale sign of the village was the rusted, tin covered building that sat along the wide, red riverbank.

It was a crude lumber yard, that seemed to be processing various hard woods brought into the village via the river.

The dirt road inclined slightly and suddenly turned to the left, providing a clear upwards view into the village.

Both sides of the road had small wooden and mud buildings erected, evidently homes for the village people.

Some seemed uninhabited; others were alive with children, dogs and chickens.

People began to gather at the sides of the road, watching us through wary eyes, wondering why the army had just arrived, led by two white men.

As we crested the top of the hill, the Kupiano Health Clinic sat five meters off to the right side of the road.

We had arrived.

Steve killed the engine and we both sat silently for the moment, visually surveying the exterior of the hospital from the safety of our vehicle.

Most obvious, all the windows were broken or missing, the roof appeared to be absent in a large section and graffiti adorned every inch of the ancient white walls.

It looked deserted; This could not be the hospital… but it was.

Jakkie walked up to the Toyota, covered in a red dust from the journey.

“We heza be the clinic home!”

The battered screen door to one of the adjacent small buildings suddenly squeaked open, and out from the building walked two large females, both wearing brilliant white uniforms identifying themselves as nurses.

Nurse Mary wore thick, black plastic rimmed glasses, sat low on the bridge of her wide nose.

“Hello Doctors! I am Nurse Mary, and this is Sister Nurse Chandra.

Welcome to Kupiano.

If you follow me, I will show you to your home.”

The Engineers moved into an abandoned ward in the clinic, while Steve and I were presented with our own home.

The house was vacant, dusty and void of all traces of furniture.

There was a bathroom with a sit toilet, which drained onto the jungle floor below, and there was electricity… on occasion.

Steve carried our bags upstairs and we each began our silent ritual of setting up our individual living areas.

Armed with 25 feet of green parachute cord, we were both able to hang our mosquito bars on opposite sides of the room.

I needed to lay down, if only for a minute…

Pain is only weakness leaving the body…

I awoke as usual, drenched in sweat and in pain, but in a dark and totally unfamiliar location.

My mind gradually brought me back into focused reality, and the quiet of my new jungle home.

My pistol was under my right leg and the Operational Fund was still attached to my waist.

I looked at the green luminescence of my watch and saw that it was 0340 a.m.

I fumbled with my small aid bag and withdrew two 800 mg Motrin and a Robaxin for my nightly fix.

Washing the pills down with the warm, brackish water from my canteen, I closed my eyes again.

Thank God, no ‘Bad Boys’ tonight.

The intense noise of the surrounding jungle jolted me awake.

The room was filled with bright sunlight and it was already getting warm.

Steve was already up and working on something in our bathroom.

I could hear him cursing softly to himself as he continued to bang away on some hard metallic surface.

I hoped that he had fixed whatever it was that was giving him grief.

I slowly rolled onto my stomach, simultaneously lifting the wall of the mosquito bar.

There was no easy way to get to my feet.

‘Gut it out Mister! Pain is only weakness leaving the body…”

That first day, we surveyed the hospital and established a working schedule and priority.

Steve would set up the pharmacy and begin medical training of the nurses while I established the emergency treatment room and the various wards.

Jakki and his men began the pouring cement for much needed steps and sidewalks and started replacing the broken windows.

The hospital did not have a single in-patient and had not really been operational except in extreme emergency situations during the previous three years.

This lack of patients made the repair and rebuilding job of much easier.

It would not take long however, until word got out that the hospital was receiving a much-needed face-lift. We sure had a lot to do accomplish in the coming weeks.

Later that afternoon, Jakki and I took one of the military trucks down to the local lumber yard on the river to see what kind of lumber was being produced.

Stacks and piles of large, red trees were stacked in the yard awaiting their turn on the milling rack.

Rosewood, Teak and other hardwood producing trees seemed to be the wood of choice.

Under the overhand of the old tin roof, were stacks of cut lumber of varying sizes and wood species, drying naturally out of the direct touch of the hot New Guinean sun.

Jakki spotted a pile of what appeared to be Teak 2x4s about 20 feet long.

“Many woods these need we, Chief.”

Jakki haggled with the yard foreman for a good half hour before the price was finally negotiated.

200 Teak 2x4s for 230 Kena, or about $100.00.

I paid the foreman from my Operational Fund and we carried our new supply of lumber back up the rugged road to the hospital.

Those 2x4s were beautiful!

It was a shame really, using such fine lumber for framing and miscellaneous construction use.

These jungle lumber yards were stripping the jungle of wood products and shipping their wares overseas to a very hungry market.

“You are a snake-eater Bewley, not an OB doc!”

As our first day ended, Steve and I rewarded ourselves with a semi-cool bottle of Export Lager, the local brew.

We had purchased a case of the stuff before we left Port Moresby, not knowing if Kupiano would have similar refreshments here for us.

The beer bottles were old, severely scratched up with worn labels.

I could only imagine that they had been reused a couple hundred times before.

I was sitting on the floor of our jungle house, with my back against the wall silently engaged in my own thoughts and enjoying the beer, when I suddenly noticed Steve’s pile of medical books stacked neatly on the floor next to him.

My eyes were suddenly drawn to the top book in the stack…” Obstetrics.”

Without thought, I reached for the book and opened to the first chapter and began reading.

‘Signs and symptoms of impending childbirth: Nausea and vomiting, mother displays intense anxiety, heavy show of blood/bloody mucus, intense desire to defecate, rapidly occurring contractions with increasing intensity and desire to bear down, bulging membranes from vulva and/or spontaneous rupture, dilatation of anus with expulsion of feces…’

My pulse was racing, and I could not put the book down as I was totally engrossed, hanging on every printed word in the text.

I visualized the birth of my own children in my mind’s eye, trying to recall every aspect as it related to the manual that I held in my hands.

I remember asking the Doctor at Womack Army Hospital, at Fort Bragg, NC if I could deliver my daughter when the time arrived.

“You are a snake-eater Bewley, not an OB doc!” was his reply.

But I was there in the delivery room, watching, feeling, smelling…

“Steve, if we get any possible childbirth cases in the next 6 weeks, I am going to be the delivering doctor.” I said after my final pull from my now empty beer bottle.

Steve did not say a word… just shook his head and smiled.

‘All pregnant women in the village beware… Chief Bewley is reading a book on childbirth.

Hope he doesn’t find the manual on Open Heart Surgery!’

Our first patient could not speak pigeon, English or any other known common dialect

The following days at the hospital were beyond busy, as our work schedule ran from sunup to sundown.

Steve’s alarm clock would begin ringing at 5:30 in the morning, and he would quickly rise and get the coffee water going before he wandered off to the bathroom.

He knew that it would take a good five minutes or so for me to crawl from my mosquito net to the coffee pot, so he had plenty of time to spend in the pisser.

We would both enjoy a morning cup of dark, black PNG coffee and maybe some fruit before we descended from our jungle house to our project hospital.

Daily, in the early afternoon, Nurse Mary would bring us some cool juice and “something” to eat… the something was normally a small critter that was caught and butchered the previous day and some fruit and vegetables.

We never inquired as to what the daily “kill” consisted of, but it gave us a much-needed break from the work and some nourishment.

The amount of work completed by the end of our first week was remarkable.

Most of the external structural repairs of the buildings were completed, and the interior wards, rooms and stores were taking shape.

It was also at the end of this first week that we received our first patient.

Mr. X, we named him as he could not speak pigeon, English or any other known common dialect.

Papua New Guinea has over 700 distinct languages, and he was using one that seemed to draw a blank from everyone.

He was an older gentleman, I would guess in his 50s or 60s, but guessing age in the bush was hit or miss.

He wore an old, dirty white T-shirt, with knee length shorts and no shoes.

His physical characteristics were just like everyone else, just an older version.

He had walked from a village far away, as he had heard that some foreign doctors had arrived and were doing good work in Kupiano.

Steve had Mr. X sit on the examination table in our newly rebuilt emergency examination room and he began his medical history, vitals and SOAP (symptoms, observations, assessment, prognosis/procedures) routine that was ingrained into every Special Forces medic.

Nurse Mary was offering limited translation and serving as his assistant, as this session was to serve as a training opportunity as well.

I naturally, stood back and watched with curiosity as the two began working on their patient with professional vigor and coordinated teamwork.

I noticed that the SF Medic was the most sought-after person on the team

I had started out my Special Forces career as a Weapons man, knowing the assembly and disassembly procedures and employment of about every small arm in the world.

I was well versed in small unit tactics and techniques to locate, close with and destroy an enemy.

Killing was the name of the game.

I eventually ascended the SFODA hierarchy as the Intelligence Sergeant, the Assistant Operations Sergeant, Operations Sergeant, Assistant Detachment Commander and finally, the Commander.

During this climb through the ranks, I noticed that the SF Medic was the most sought-after person on the team.

He was the one who bandaged you up when you were wounded, issued you drugs and vaccinations when needed, and was normally the one you could engage in classical conversations of the arts and humanities.

We had so much trust in their abilities, that we took our families to see them as well for their basic health care problems.

They were easily as well trained, and often more experienced than the professional, certificate carrying Physicians Assistants or General Practitioner Docs working in the local military hospitals.

All SF soldiers are cross trained in the various other Special Forces skills found on the ODA.

One day we might learn Morse Code from the Communications Sergeant, and the next day explosives calculation and emplacement on a bridge structure by the Demolitions Sergeant.

The medical training, however, was always met with “not this again” apprehension, as it normally involved Intravenous (IV) sticks, deep intramuscular (IM) vaccinations of cold, thick, oily substances pumped into your gluteus, and on the odd occasion the vile violation of the prostrate examination.

I was always drawn to medicine however, and thought that one day I would have to attend some formal training as a doctor or PA. At a minimum, I was going to be a non-licensed practicing, non-traditional physician for my family!

Mr. X had been bitten by a snake while walking barefoot through the jungle

It seemed that Mr. X had been bitten by a snake on his big toe while walking barefoot through the jungle.

Just so happened that the snake was a rather poisonous one, common in Papua New Guinea, named the Death Adder.

The tell-tale signs of fang puncture marks were clearly visible.

“Mary, do we have any anti-venom for a Death Adder?”

Steve asked with a tone of urgency to his voice.

“No Doctor Steve. We have not had any for 4 months now.”

“Shit…how long ago was he bitten?”

Mary and Mr. X again continued a rather animated episode of improvised translation.

“Doctor Steve…he said that he was bitten four days ago.”

“Four Days Ago! Hell…If he had not died by now, he is not going to die… clean him up, put him on a Glucose drip and let’s monitor him for the next 24 hours.

Let’s get a message up to Port Moresby to get some anti-venom down here stat!”

I could sense the agitation in Steve’s voice.

With that, we returned to our tasks at hand.

From that moment of arrival of our first patient Mr. X, the hospital began to receive a steady and constant flow of patients.

Following Mr. X was the arrival of a pre-historic looking woman, evidently in her last moments of life.

Then a small boy who was dog bitten, and five members of his family.

Then a small grouping of possible TB patients from a distant village who were immediately isolated into a separate ward.

We were quickly running out of beds and the limited medical supplies were going quick.

Steve had just completed a 30-day listing of critical supplies and medications for the pharmacy and store that was urgently required.

I had made a list of hard items such as beds, desks and required furniture that we needed to outfit the various wards and clinics and Jakki made a list of needed construction supplies, lumber, windows and paint.

It was decided that on the following morning, one truck with 2 Engineers and Steve and I would make a return journey to Port Moresby to purchase and acquire the needed supplies.

We would spend the night and return to Kupiano the following day. Jakki would supervise the ongoing construction and Nurse Mary would continue to provide medical treatment and assistance to those in our in-patient status while we were gone.

That evening while enjoying my nightly, slightly chilled beer, I began cleaning and oiling my pistol.

I hope we do not meet any of those Bad Boys along the route….

By week five, the hospital was “looking” like an operational medical facility.

New windows had been emplaced and a fresh coat of “Fremantle” colored paint, a color which I can only describe as a deep, bright green, had been applied to the main and sub-structures with shiny white latex accents.

We hired a local gardener to cut back the jungle and to beautify the front areas of the hospital with flowers and grass. Operationally, all clinics were up and running and the staff had received nightly lectures and hands-on practical training.

All were eager to take on all but the most traumatic cases… those they would leave for Doctor Steve.

The interior of the hospital was sparkling, with rows upon rows of new beds covered in fresh clean, white linen.

Newly installed ceiling fans circulated the cool interior air, and the new fluorescent lighting provided a bright, natural light even during the darkest nights.

The Engineers were still working on a standalone, exterior cookhouse to provide food for the in-patients, but besides that, our month-long reconstruction project was about finished.

Standing on the road in front of the hospital, Steve and I admired the obvious transformation.

“Hope they keep up with this place after we leave.”

Steve mumbled, somewhat talking to himself out-loud.

“Well, the boys will be coming down tomorrow to help with the outlying village Medical Civic Action and Inoculation programs.

We better get a message to them to bring us down some Jack Daniels and some beer.”

We both then wandered off down the trail to our jungle house for our nightly beer.

“You know Steve, we’ve seen about every disease, injury and illness in the book, but I still have not seen a pregnant woman… just my luck, four good looking, pregnant jungle girls will arrive ten minutes after we finish up this project and head up to Moresby.”

“Yep, they will sure be lucky alright!” Steve said with a smile.

“Damn, Chief…this is a nice house!”

The final phase of our mission was about to start… the MECAP.

As the team had finished up most of its training tasks with the Battalion in Goldie River, the guys not needed for the final training exercise would travel down Kupiano, to assist with the MEDCAP.

The team would first link-up with a local doctor at the US Embassy, pick up last minute medical supplies, and then begin the long, painful journey through no-man’s land to Kupiano.

It looked like our Demo man Rodney Robideau, Weapons man Dennis Berry (DB), Medic Jimbo McCann and our Commo man Marcus Lowry would be escorting the Doctor and supplies down to our site.

Our Team Commander Ben Clayborne would arrive towards the end of the MEDCAP, escorting the remainder of our team and our Company Commander, who was scheduled to fly in to socialize with PNG dignitaries, the Defense Attache’ and US Ambassador at the hospital re-dedication Ribbon Cutting ceremony.

It was around 1400 hours when the vehicles pulled up outside the front door of the hospital.

The red dust of the long ride covered everything.

All occupants slowly crawled from the vehicle, stretching cramped muscles and beaming broad smiles, knowing that they had finally arrived at their destination.

Both Steve and I, the nurses and the Engineers were there to greet them. “Rodney, did you bring the Jack Daniels?”

It was my way of welcoming the new crew down to our little jungle town.

After introductions and hellos, we had to show our visitors our newly renovated facility.

“Looks like you all did a bit of work Chief.

I gotta farmhouse back in Washington that could use a face-lift whenever you and Steve would like to come out and do some remodeling!” laughed Rodney.

We all left the OB/GYN ward in single file towards our Jungle House to map out the plan for the coming days.

“Damn, Chief…this is a nice house!” exclaimed DB as he popped the top of the bottle of Jack.

… so we proceeded to finish off that bottle of Mr. Jack Daniels!

My plan was already developed and ready for action.

We had rented three wooden dugout canoes with 15 hp motors to carry the Doctor plus us six SF operators and supplies 12 miles down the coast to one of our first remote village sites.

Once we arrived at the village, we would establish a central treatment location with seven separate stations.

Marcus would check in all patients and take patient history, complaints and other required data for research collection at station

#1. Station # 2 would be Rodney, who would take vitals and record data into patient records.

Station #3 would be the inoculation station, where the Doctor would provide immunizations and collect medical data to support his research.

Station #4, 5 & 6 were treatment stations under the supervision of Jimbo.

Station # 7 was the Pharmacy, where medications and supplies were issued as required.

Once the village was treated, we would return to Kupiano by our canoes, compile all data and prepare for the following days village visit.

Nobody had any questions on the concept of our operations, so we proceeded to finish off that bottle of Mr. Jack Daniels.

‘I don’t think they have seen white people before…”

The sun was just starting to rise above the triple canopy of the jungle across from the boat dock area as we began loading our supplies into the small wooden boats.

“Where in the fuck did you find these boats Chief? Are you sure they wont sink with us in them?” Marcus was always very loving early in the mornings…

It was shortly after 0700 when our small formation of boats left the dock area and followed the current of the mud red river towards the open ocean.

It was going to be a fine day, as the sky held not a hint of a cloud, and the morning air was somewhat cool.

The boats cut through the red water with ease, and we made quick time to the mouth of the river and entered the deep blue of the ocean.

The sea was flat, something we all had hoped for.

While our local coxswains had vouched for the seaworthiness of these small boats, when loaded with us beefy Americans and supplies, the water level was only a few inches below the gunwale.

Any movement on the ocean would have been rather perilous.

As we approached the beach to our first village, children, teenagers and herds of pigs flocked to the shore to watch our approach.

The small waves carried our craft gently up onto the long white beach as we all stepped from the boats into knee deep water, dragging the boats up onto the warm sand.

There must have been at least 100 people on the beach by now, all staring at the strange new visitors. DB, with his bleach blonde hair and light complexion immediately drew most of the attention.

‘I don’t think they have seen white people before…”

All the children were naked and ran among the villagers without the slightest embarrassment.

The girls and women wore long cloth skirts only, with their upper bodies and breasts exposed, giggling amongst themselves and seemingly not shy about their lack of clothing.

The men all wore a makeshift rag wrapped around their waists, also mostly naked, their sinewy bodies blackened by the intense New Guinean sun.

This was an amazingly simple village.

One of the village elders approached the Doctor and I, speaking in some ancient tribal dialect, seeming to direct us towards a large, covered area to set up our medical station.

With haste, we unloaded our supplies and had all seven stations operational and waiting on our first patient.

The entire village had now gathered and stood before us, staring at us, not sure of our intentions or what we were doing there.

Finally, a woman came forward carrying an extremely sick baby girl in her arms.

Marcus immediately processed her and started her into our ad-hoc medical system.

Still the village stood and watched, hoping to see what fate beheld the woman and her child. The child screamed nonstop.

When the doctor and Jimbo had finished their treatments, the woman passed by station #7 to pick up her medication.

Station #7 was my station. I made markings on the small bottle of antibiotics to indicate how many times the woman should give the medicine to her child.

She seemed to understand and bowed her head in thanks, quickly walking into the sea of spectators.

That is all it took.

Within milliseconds, the entire town was rushing towards Marcus in hopes of getting inside.

We worked feverously for six hours without a break and had seen 187 patients.

I had issued almost every toothbrush and every drug that I had at my table, and the medical data collected would keep the Doctor busy for months!

We quietly reloaded our boats and withdrew into the sea.

Looking back at the beach, the village was once again all standing and watching us intently.

No waves of thanks, no goodbyes, no emotion.

The Doctor rode in my boat and he suddenly spoke.

“They were very grateful and welcome you back into their village again as family.”

The following day… the arrival of the US Ambassador

We continued the remote village medical program, culminating our seventh village the day prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the hospital.

As our boats maneuvered into the docks, Ben Clayborne and my Company Commander Major Russ Berkoff were standing there to greet us.

The previous week had taken its toll upon us, physically and emotionally.

I was bone tired and not wanting to do any socialization with the boss, but I was able to manage a false smile and a “Hey Sir! Welcome to Kupiano!”

I briefed the boss on our rebuilding of the hospital, the training of the staff and the village medical programs.

Ben briefed on the success of the combat training program that the 2 RPIR had received.

I then briefed both on the activities for the following day… the arrival of the US Ambassador, his entourage and the local dignitaries.

Both of my bosses were exuding happiness at our success, waiting in anticipation for the upcoming accolades of the following days events.

I was glad that they were happy, and I was glad when they left my jungle house so I could take a much-needed nap.

“Is she dilated Mary? Have you taken her vitals? How far along is she?”

Nurse Mary and I made haste along the jungle trail leading up to the hospital and the awaiting girl in labor.

Russ Berkoff was standing near the front of the hospital taking a few photos when he noticed Mary and I quickly moving into the OB ward.

“Hey Chief! What’s going on? What are you doing?”

I heard him in the distance.

As I entered the clinic, Nurse Chandra was above the young woman, her ear positioned above a metallic

“Shot glass” on the woman’s lower abdomen.

“I got her Chandra, Thanks!” I bellowed.

I took the “Shot glass” and moved it into various positions on her lower abdomen, but I did not hear a thing.

The woman was already in a dorsal position with her legs elevated into the stirrups.

She was wearing a dark short sleeved T-shirt and a cotton dress.

The dress, however, was pulled up above her waist and she was naked.

She had tattoos up and down both legs and arms, and she also had stripes, like tiger stripes tattooed across her face.

Her water had broken, and I could see the dark mass of hair of the baby as its head was beginning to crown.

‘What am I supposed to do….’

“Mary, I am going to scrub… I need you to glove me.

Chandra, get some towels or clean cloth.

I need you to clean her up with a betadine scrub…I want this sterile got it?!”

I was barking orders like I knew what I was doing.

I had finished reading the entire book on child delivery, so in my mind I was ready… I thought.

“Chief, what are you doing in there?”

It was Russ Berkoff.

He had opened the clinic door and stood there with his mouth agape.

“I am going to deliver a baby, Sir!

Either come in or get out… I need that door closed.

I don’t want a bunch of flies in here!”

He came inside, eyes wide open as he watched Mary getting me into my gloves.

“Chief, I have never seen a birth before… would she mind if I took a picture or two?

Chandra returned with the towels and stood at the head of the woman talking to her, keeping her mind off the task at hand.

The woman was 22 years old, and this was her first child.

Her name was Sara and she had just walked eight miles to the hospital from her village.

I could see from the expression on her face that she was in pain, but she did not utter a sound.

Steve had arrived but was going to stand outside the ward and coach and encourage me as needed through the open screened window.

With each wave of contractions, Sara would attempt to pull her knees to her chest.

“Don’t push yet Sara! Breath! That’s right… relax!

Mary, I need some scissors, some clamps and some suture material! Steve!

I see the baby’s head pretty clearly now… should I tell her to push or what?”

Russ was right over my shoulder, now on his second roll of film, most of which were vaginal shots.

“Chief, as the head distends the perineum, and you can see 2 to 3 inches of scalp, slide your fingers over the top of the fetal scalp, and using the scissors, cut at a 45-degree angle through the vulva for about an inch or an inch and a half for the episiotomy!” Steve instructed.

“Steve, I thought I was supposed to cut down the vaginal fold toward the anus?”

I had the scissors in my right hand, my left fingers in between the mother and the baby’s scalp.

Sara started pushing. “Steve! The head is coming out! Shit!… Shit!”

I tossed the scissors on the floor and using both hands, began to support the baby’s head as it began to rotate to the side.

“Oh God!” I heard Russ screaming behind me.

Warm, brownish red fluid gushed from Sara over my hands.

Within seconds, the head was completely out, followed by the shoulders and then the entire body, as it seemed to squirt out into my hands.

I could vaguely hear Sara panting in the background.

“Suction Chief! Suction!”

I looked down at the pale pinkish/blue baby with a full head of black hair, its body glistening under the fluorescent lights.

“Give it suction Chief!”

I then realized that Steve was screaming at me from the window.

“God damn it Chief, give it suction!”

Nurse Mary rushed to my side with a long, slender plastic straw, and placed one end into the baby’s nose and the other end into Mary’s mouth.

With a loud, vigorous suck, Mary cleared one nostril, then the other. She then opened the baby’s mouth and sucked the fluid and mucus out in a similar fashion.

‘I am going to throw-up!’

The baby immediately began to cry.

The baby was still attached to Sara via the umbilical, and I passed the crying newborn to Mary.

I focused on the dark umbilical cord for any sign of pulse.

Finding none, I tied a wrap of suture an inch or so away from the belly of the baby, and another wrap a few inches up towards Sara.

I cut the cord between the two wraps, separating the baby from its mother.

Mary handed the baby to Chandra who immediately wrapped the baby in a towel and place it on the chest of Sara.

It was a baby girl.

“Fuckin’ congratulations, Chief!“

Mary gave Sara a “Cocktail” injection to firm up the uterus and to hasten the delivery of the placenta.

Chandra removed the baby from Sara and began cleaning her off with warm towels, and finally placing her into a small plastic cradle that reminded me of a bedpan.

Within minutes, I delivered the placenta and dropped the bloody mass into a plastic bucket.

Mary was cleaning up Sara, as I pulled those nasty gloves from my hands.

“Fuckin’ congratulations, Chief! That was unbelievable! I got it all on film!”

Russ was still a bit white from observing the birthing event.

Moving to the door, I met Steve “Chief, you lucky bastard!

I have been a medic for 15 years and I have never gotten to deliver a baby! Good job!”

It was a good feeling.

I returned to the OB clinic a few hours later to check on the new mother Sara and her new baby girl.

Entering the ward, I noticed everything was cleaned up.

‘Funny, where is Sara?’

I walked through the ward into the in-patient clinic.

The four patients inside all seemed happy to see me, but there was no Sara.

I went to the adjoining administration building where the Nurses normally stayed.

“Mary, where is Sara? She isn’t in the ward?” I asked anxiously.

“Sara went home already. Took the baby and walked back to her village. She has to work tomorrow.” Replied Mary.

‘There is no way! She just had her child… ’I slowly turned away, actually in shock for the moment.

I wanted to see the child that I had just brought into this world…

” Doctor Brian. Sara wanted me to thank you for delivering her daughter Brian for her. You worked good.” ‘

…her daughter Brian…’

“Mary, did you say, “Doctor Brian” or her “daughter Brian?”

I was still contemplating Sara’s sudden departure, and I must have missed something in Mary’s pigeon.

“I said both Doctor Brian.

Sara’s daughter is named “Brian”, after you!’

Mary looked at me through her thick black rimmed glasses and smiled.

“Imagine that, a baby girl named Brian!”

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Brian Bewley and his wife S. Jessica own and manage Tactical Solutions International, Inc. (TSI) in Crowheart, WY.

TSI and its commercial training department, Tactical Training International has been conducting cutting-edge tactical training for DoD, US Govt organizations, friendly foreign governments, LE, corporations, and qualified civilians since 2003.

For more information on TSI or TTI training opportunities, please visit


or contact Nate Mastin or Logan Brown, TTI Training Dept., (307) 486-2336.

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