Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

May 21, 2013

War in Iraq got results, says Clark

Pat Smith
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Decatur County’s Phillip Clark, son of Larry Clark, joined the U.S. Army soon after 9/11.

He spent 10 years in the service of our country serving as a combat engineer at first and then as combat medic. During those 10 years he trained at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Riley in Kansas, Fort Sam Houston in Texas, and Fort Sill in Oklahoma, had three deployments in Iraq and finally spent some time in Walter Reed Hospital.

He spent his first year in Iraq as a combat engineer. The main duty of a combat engineer is to supervise or assist a team while tracking rough terrain in combat zones. They can provide knowledge about vital areas such as the ability to move or not move, the chances of survival and general engineering. They can also place explosives and detonate them, clear routes of obstacles, lay out positions for fixed or floating bridges, and they can prepare systems for demolition and detect mines with or without mine detectors.

After his first deployment as a combat engineer, Phillip wanted to change jobs. He went to Fort Sam Houston to attend the Army Combat Medic School while attending college to be able to be reclassified as a combat medic and return to Iraq. “I lost too many friends. It hurt seeing my friends killed or injured when I could do nothing to help them. I promised myself no one would share that same pain, so I requested to be re-classed as a combat medic.” Combat Medics are responsible for providing first aid and trauma care on the battlefield. They can provide medical care if a physician is unavailable including care for disease and injury. They move with the troops and monitor their health.

Phillip said that according to the Geneva Convention, firing at a medic wearing the insignia of a medic is a war crime but modern enemies don’t honor that. Their version of war is different from what has gone before. As a medic he not only carried an M-9 side arm to protect himself or the wounded in his care, he also carried an M-16. He and other medics discovered that wearing the Red Cross on a combat field simply made them targets. The enemy learned that to injure or kill a medic would keep that medic from saving an injured soldier.

Phillip enjoyed being called a “Devil Doc” after he was attached to the U.S. Marine Corps at one point. Because the Marines don’t have their own medics, they use Navy Corpsman or those of other units as part of a joint unit operation. The term, “Devil Doc,” is an honorary one and he said he did indeed feel honored. He experienced this joint unit operation in Ar Ramadi, northwest of Bagdad. The town had been a center of Sunni insurgent resistance since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Phillip sustained medical injuries in May 2009 when he was hit by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) while in a humvee. Due to previous injuries and troop downsizing, he was given the choice of staying in the service or leaving. He decided to return home.

Now, he is donating his time to Smith’s Martial Arts and trains Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays while waiting to see if he gets a position with the Greensburg Police Department. “I just enjoy being a public servant,” Clark said. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) has been one of the more popular forms of mixed-martial arts since the 1990s. Muay Thai is a combat sport that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques.

Currently he and his team are preparing to ‘fight back at cancer’ with the upcoming Relay for Life. “We have a great program lined up this year to help raise money to beat cancer. We’re going to take strikes from cancer survivors from inside a boxing ring while wearing shirts with various forms of cancer symbolizing our fight against cancer. We’ll be collecting donations for each strike taken, and regular donations are more than welcome. It’s going to be a blast and definitely an event that shouldn’t be missed!”

When asked if the war in Iraq was worth it he replied, “If you look at just the results, they are important. There were a lot of good things that were done. The country now has a better education system and girls are allowed to get an education. The infrastructure was repaired and their agriculture system has been improved tremendously. We even stopped a ruthless genocidal dictator.”

Note: Please do try to attend the Memorial Day Service at Soldier’s Circle in South Park Cemetery.