Saturday, April 4, 2015

The silent heroism of Army troops

From the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Apr 5): The silent heroism of Army troops

A WOUNDED Cpl. Daniel Pajarilla, with wife, Mary Lanie, and daughter, Quincy, herself ill with a rare blood disease . PHOTO FROM 6TH INFANTRY DIVISION

A WOUNDED Cpl. Daniel Pajarilla, with wife, Mary Lanie, and daughter, Quincy, herself ill with a rare blood disease . PHOTO FROM 6TH INFANTRY DIVISION
It was the 10th night of the all-out offensive in Maguindanao province and Cpl. Daniel Pajarilla and his unit were in a defensive position at a tactical command post in the village of Madia in Datu Saudi Ampatuan town.

The sound of gunfire was getting closer and the tension was visible in the soldiers’ sweat.

An explosion hit their position, forcing Pajarilla to jump and then crawl under a truck for cover.

Like the rest of his team, Pajarilla opened fire, aiming at members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) who were advancing.

He could barely move, however. A sharp and burning pain in his stomach and leg made him immobile, according to Pajarilla in an interview at his hospital bed.
All Pajarilla could do was shout for help.

Two other members of Pajarilla’s team were wounded, including a junior officer who was hit by an explosive while opening the hatch of an armored vehicle.

In the ambulance, Pajarilla was overcome by a single thought: “I need to be alive for my daughter.” His daughter, Quincy, 6, is sick with a rare blood disease.

Quincy was diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP) three years ago.

ITP is a rare condition characterized by a low platelet count resulting in bruising and bleeding.

The cause and cure for ITP are still undetermined.

Despite the disease, however, Quincy excelled in class, making it to the top of her Grade 1 class and winning three awards in her school in Lebak town, Sultan Kudarat province—best in English, best in science and best in math.

Quincy and her mother, Mary Lanie, quickly proceeded to the medical facility at the 6th Infantry Division in Datu Odin Sinsuat town, Maguindanao, where Pajarilla had been taken for treatment.

Seeing her father writhe in pain, Quincy jumped to hug him to comfort the wounded soldier.

On March 7, a day after Pajarilla was wounded, he was airlifted to V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City, separating him from his wife and child.

Mary Lanie and Quincy could only worry.

Soldiers and their families are all too well aware of the risks of being in the battlefield. Getting killed is part of the job.

But some soldiers are complaining about the scant attention, and help, they receive, comparing their plight with that of members of the police Special Action Force who were killed or wounded in an operation to capture or kill international terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” in Mamasapano town, Maguindanao, on Jan. 25.

Since the all-out offensive against the BIFF started on Feb. 25, at least six soldiers, including a Scout Ranger captain, have been killed and 31 others wounded.

News about their sacrifice doesn’t catch attention.

“We will die silently because we believe this is all but part and parcel of our job,” said a military officer, who asked that he not be identified for not being authorized to discuss the issue.

“Soldiers have already died in many parts of the country since the Mamasapano incident but none of the families spoke ill of the support given to them,” the officer said.

Pajarilla’s case is an example, the officer said.

Pajarilla and his family, he said, “have been struggling financially, reaching the point of pawning his entire salary to be able to support and find a cure for Quincy.”

The situation has driven Pajarilla and his wife to virtually beg for support, asking for money from members of Pajarilla’s battalion, neighbors and friends “just to keep Quincy alive,” the officer said.

Pajarilla’s case is not isolated.

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