Monday, August 3, 2009

Bootless Beretta Haggard, US Army

As I continue to honor those who have served us, pay special attention to this particular story. It has more twists and turns than a Texas twister!

Bootless Beretta Haggard, US Army

Born on January 24, 1973, in the Smokey Mountains near the border of Georgia, Beretta Haggard grew up in the small village of Ducktown, Tennessee. His parents moved to Ducktown when he was a child where they started working as naturalists with the Cherokee National Forrest.

Beretta was an only child, but was surrounded by animals of every sort. “Have you ever seen the Beverly Hillbillies?” he asked through a heavy Southern accent. “We were just like that! We had farm animals that were bottle fed, and Poppa even adopted a mule deer he found along the highway one day. That deer’s momma had been hit by a car and had to be put down. So, we took it in and it became a family pet.”

It was Beretta’s love for animals that generally shaped the direction his life would take. Graduating as a valedictorian from high school, he had every intention of going straight to The University of Tennessee in order to study animal science and become a veterinarian. However, his plans were interrupted when Gulf War I broke out following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait. He answered the call to serve his country when President George H. Bush mobilized the 82nd Airborne to remove the Iraqi invaders from Kuwaiti soil. He enlisted in the U.S. Army late in the fall of 1990, and signed up to be an airborne infantryman. Because he was only 17, he had to have his father grant him permission.

His time in the Army was anything but uneventful. He arrived at Fort Benning, Georgia, and became a proud member of the 1st Battalion, 38th infantry, a boot camp training unit, where his drill sergeant advised him how to be the best soldier he could be. Toward the end of his boot camp cycle, Beretta was the Platoon Guide for the First Platoon. Charley Company was engaged in the field training exercises called Escape and Evasion, which is a 36 hour war game designed to prepare infantrymen for combat. During the exercise, the point-man in his platoon tripped and fell into a ravine, badly gashing his leg. “I saw him go down. He landed funny when his pants leg snagged on a tree root, and the laces around his boots got tangled around the root. He was dangling off the creek bank and he hit his head. When I got to him, he was covered in blood. I thought he had a head wound, but he was bleeding from a gash on his leg. I could see that he had a deep puncture wound and that he was losing blood fast. It was an artery, ‘cause I could see the blood squirt out about five feet every time his heart beat.” Beretta gazed distantly out the window as he recalled the story to me. “I was lucky to have been an Eagle Scout. I had taken some basic first aid courses, and I remembered how to apply pressure on wounds.”

What Beretta did was nothing short of heroic. Without wasting time to cut Private Morgan from the tree, he went to work trying to stop the blood. “I had nothing to tie up the bandages, so I took the laces from my combat boots and used them to tie the bandages around his leg.” With his swift action, Beretta saved the life of Private Jimmy Morgan, who would have bled out in only minutes had he not have acted so swiftly. When the medics arrived on scene, they found Beretta wearing only one boot, but applying pressure like a seasoned paramedic. “That’s how I got the nickname, Bootless.” The name stuck with him for life.

After airborne training, Beretta became a proud member of the 82nd Airborne. He arrived at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, just as the 82nd became the vanguard in Operation Desert Shield. Although he missed the first deployment to Operation Desert Shield, he was there for the invasion on January, 16, 1991, one week short of his 18th birthday. In the short 100-hour ground war, the 82nd drove deep into Iraq and captured thousands of Iraqi soldiers and tons of equipment, weapons, and ammunition. During that campaign, as the 82nd bore down on the entrenched Iraqi Republican Guard, Bootless Beretta Haggard received another opportunity to become a hero. His squadron was working a machine gun nest built into the side of a low rise… “We were trying to flank that machine gunner. As we approached from the right, a child, barely ten years old, spooked and ran out of that machine gun nest. We were shocked to see that a kid was hiding in there with those soldiers. But, as we came within 20 yards of that position, an Iraqi soldier threw a grenade at us. I don’t know what was worse,” he tried to explain. “Knowing that a kid came out of that hole, or realizing that he was running right into that live grenade. I didn’t really think about it. I just ran across that gunfire and did a flying tackle on that boy. The grenade exploded just as we landed in the sand.” Beretta was able to save the boy’s life, but he did so at the expense of his right leg. “My foot was still in the air when the grenade exploded. My right foot was completely severed just below the knee. I truly was bootless now!” This particular incident is even further amplified by the fact that his squad was able to seize a large stash of weapons grade plutonium by taking down that machine gun nest. Had that plutonium not been seized, it very well could have been developed into a nuclear weapon.

Thus ended Beretta’s military career. He was shipped stateside and discharged as a fully disabled veteran. But, Beretta refused to stay down. He was eligible for vocational rehabilitation with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, so he enrolled in the University of Tennessee, only this time on Uncle Sam’s ticket.

Once again graduating with honors, Beretta worked as a veterinarian for a farm and ranch clinic in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Specializing in the care of large animals, he began to work with the local horse breeders. One case of particular interest: he was the primary care veterinarian for Five Alarm Fire, the race horse that won the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, which includes the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. Most avid fans of horse racing will remember that Five Alarm Fire was the thoroughbred that developed eye cancer and had the first successful eye transplant for horses. Not only that, but Beretta was able to use the cancer tissues from that case and eventually developed the cure for equestrian eye cancer, in a joint effort with the University of Kentucky. The treatment focused on creating protein resistant nuclei that target cancer cells and eventually strangle them, eliminating the cancer causing cells in a matter of weeks.

While the treatment is still in the testing phase, the Food and Drug Administration is adapting the treatment for use with humans. In each test case, the cancer cells have been removed, without a trace, from each of the human test subjects. It is entirely probable that cancer will be eradicated by the end of 2010. The creation of the Protein Resistant Nuclei prompted Beretta to become the first veterinarian to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why have you not heard about this? The answer is very simple. In 1973, when Beretta’s mother learned that she was pregnant, she decided that having a baby would ruin her career path, so she had an abortion at the age of 19. When she did so, she forever altered the course of human events. Because Beretta was never born, Private Morgan, a father of twins, and a devoted husband, died from exsanguination resulting from a leg wound when he was in boot camp in Georgia. His daughters grew up without a father and became wards of the state when Mrs. Morgan committed suicide following her husband’s death. She couldn’t bear to go on without him.

Because Beretta wasn’t there to save the Iraqi boy from the grenade, Hassani died. Hassani would have been the man who would later work as an intelligence operative with the CIA, and who would locate a hidden lab in Iran where scientists were developing weapons grade smallpox. Because Hassani died as a boy, over 1500 US soldiers were exposed to the smallpox during the second Gulf war and each died from that exposure.

Because Beretta wasn’t born, he was unable to develop the cure for cancer, which was derived from a unique treatment used to cure eye cancer in a race horse.

Why haven’t you heard about Bootless Beretta Haggard? Because abortion was made legal through a monumental court case called Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973.