Second narrator of online Night of Memory

We had also microbial war at front

Maryam Assadi Jafari
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


According to the website of Iranian Oral History, the 312th ceremony of Night of Memory was held online in Aparat website on 23rd of April 2020. In this show, Abdolreza Tarazi and Dr. Saeed Marzban Rad retold their memoirs of the Scared Defense era.

In this program, Mehdi Salehi was present as the host and shared the questions related to the Night of Memory with the guests. The second narrator of "Dr. Saeed Marzban Rad" was a disabled veteran and subspecialist in chest and lung surgery who shared his memories of the Sacred Defense era and his views on the outbreak of Coronavirus:


*Welcome, Dr. Salam. You were pioneer in setting up of a defense unit for fighting against chemical attacks and have written about treatment of chemically attacked combatants. With this introduction, please retell your collection of memoirs about the Sacred Defense era.

*In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Greetings to you and colleagues and those who are watching the show. In fact, with the start of the imposed war, the need for the cooperation of physicians was strongly felt. The imposed war was at first a normal and erosive war. The war turned into a chemical and normal war due to the failure of the warring countries against Iran. First, we had little information about chemical war, but later, a lot of studies were carried out by different people and with chemical education and the studies carried out in this regard by Iranian physicians and specialists, they themselves became experts in terms of therapeutic and specialized works for treating chemically wounded veterans and this caused various articles and books in the field of curing chemical patients were published. I myself was involved directly in chemically wounded veterans, and in fact, I was responsible for the chemical part of the war defense. The collection of my studies and research. My collection of studies and research was led to the publication of a book regarding the treatment of chemically wounded persons, part of which has been written by my dear colleague, Dr. Rakhshan who was the head of the Pathology Board Section. Dr. Moshtaghi and another doctor who were pulmonologists and Dr. Sajjadi as an ophthalmologist also contributed to writing the book. This book was published nationwide by the Jihad department and was used for the wounded in the hospitals and operational areas.


*Was the book written in those days of war? Tell us what happened?

*We started writing the book in the war front through collecting information and the tests and signs created in the wounded. We cooperated and write the book in the war front. Later, I for the first time was injured chemically in Dezli and when I came to Tehran, delivered the book to the Jihad to publish it. The book was given to me for edition and later it was first published by the University Jihad. Again after the completion of the work, the second edition needed to be published which was done and now many of the articles that are reviewing the past, refer to my book, because they use its contents.  


* If we want to go into the memories, I think you want to tell the beginning of the same memories of the chemical war veteran in Soomar:

* The most important memoirs are that I think God expects everyone to do as much as he or she can. There I saw people who worked beyond their means, and we saw people who might be less seen in complexes. I remember one day I started sewing a young boy. Then he said, "It's a pity." I said, "Why is it a pity?" "There was an operation tomorrow," he said. "I was supposed to go." Then, as I continued to work, he said again, "It's good." I said, "Why is it good?" "I understand now, my brothers, who are injured, what pain they are going through," he said. That is, they were great people. I remember a friend of mine saying, "You who go to the fronts, don't see the people you saw here anymore."


*A specialist physician who specializes in chemical defense is also a chemical veteran. I'm surprised!

*I took part in different chemical operations, doing the defense work. It happened in some operations that we were attacked due to some cases. If I did not have chemical information, I would have certainly been killed in the chemical attack in Soomar. Because I had chemical information, I disinfected and bathed while I was under direct fire, and rescued.


*Tell us exactly what happened when you found out you were infected.

* At the time of the accident, we were in a hospital where we were told it was a maneuver. 5 km some forces, 30 km some forces. We did the same thing the day before. Group One had caught a pilot who said they want to hit the hospital. That day the weather became cloudy, and the next few days, when it was sunny, a series of planes came and dropped some special umbrellas on the air to identify the direction of the wind. They also identified the area where the machine guns were deployed.


*You mean all of these are necessary for a chemical attack?

*Yes, it is. Then, they plotted the operation while identifying the weather and machine gunners. As a matter of fact, I had gone as a surgeon in this stage. I talked to the person responsible for the operational area. He told the authorities there that he was a physician and a chemical expert, asking them to use me. I found out that they did not like too much to cooperate with me. In the southern area, I had disinfected a number of masks and windcheaters and had them. I mean, they were in the hands of my friends. I asked them to bring them to me, and divided them among those whom I saw fit. People who need to be managerially active. I told the person in charge of the area that the plane would come from ahead and hit us, and it really happened. One morning when it was sunny, it started at 8 in the morning. There is an operation called Operation Serid. In chemical attacks, instead of hitting down the area, they first hit the altitude so that when the troops go up the mountain, they are wounded. In the same Serid operation carried out by the Iraqis, the forces went to the top of the mountain and became infected. I shouted behind the hospital loudspeaker, "Come down!" I saw that no one was listening. Since it was an emergency situation, I found out that the situation was so critical that either the plane's machine gunner hit me or I die as a result of chemical attack or I should do the things I knew namely disinfection through taking a shower. After the operation ended at 12 PM, many had been injured. I just triaged and started to disinfect the area. I saw in some areas in the war front that we had mustard liquid not mustard gas. It was dipped in mustard. The chemical bombs had spread on the ground. Sulfur mustard is white. It becomes black by mixing some materials. Mustard had poured on the bodies of two combatants. The lethal dose of sulfur mustard is one to four grams. That is, this amount can kill a person. I started disinfecting the environment in different places. I asked some of my colleagues who had come from the top of the mountain to work with them, but I saw that they were in a very bad situation. There were two buses, and they were transferred by the buses. One of my colleagues who was a physician want to eat food. Honestly, I didn't let him eat and threw his bowl on the ground and started disinfecting. Then I saw that the tanker driver who brought water. We needed the next water tanker for disinfection. He was in a state that seemed he wanted to cut his cooperation with us. Thus, I sent with him another person, asking him to go and bring water for us. They did so and we disinfected several times to the extent that I and others felt very bad. There was also another problem. The military police had ordered to close the area and many had been waiting behind the infected area and I had to refer to the person in charge with the same bad feeling and to explain how the situation of the area was. He allowed the military police to open the area and the forces were evacuated. It was very effective in that situation to keep the forces away from the infected area. When they took me back, I saw the book about which I told you.


*Today, we are facing with a virus called Corona. It is unknown as cyanide that was probably unknown one day. What are the plans for the Coronavirus today? Because I know you are working in this field as well. Tell us. 

*We had also microbial war at front. That is, it was not limited to chemical warfare. I remember in one of the operations, I don't know how the microbial material was transferred; many came down with gastritis (inflammation of the lining of stomach). The number of patients were so high that we had hospitalized them onside the trees and even the bus which brought the wounded for us collided and a number of others were wounded. Just as we have a microbial war, we have a chemical war, we have other wars. In microbial warfare, there are infectologists. There are other individuals in radioactive wars, and chemical wars require chemical expertise. After the world war, many chemical plants in other countries, such as Germany, change their nature and may produce detergents, and then they can move very quickly. The most important thing we learned in the war was that the best defense is an offensive. That means you have to know that the invading country knows that you can fight back. During World War II, Germany had so many chemicals that if it were used, it could defeat the whole world. But it used them less because of its fear of Britain for chlorine gas. The United States made Arsenic, England and Germany made chlorine. I was reading a book by a Lebanese chemist who had described the causes of nerves. He himself had announced that we have a type of nerve gas called YX that even a drop of it can be deadly. In the case of Corona, the virus is very intelligent and chooses very nicely. I saw that Dr. Mohraz had used the same word in her interviews. The conflict caused by the Coronavirus has several advantages. One is that it causes a conflict very quickly and chooses people who have a background of a disease. It is very easy to be treated and its treatment is to get rid of that connection. It is advertised and advised in TV so much so not to travel, because the disease can be transmitted to one person and infect another. I have now a patient whose brother had Corona and he himself contracted the virus. The brother sent his children to his father's house. They were carriers, and his elderly father also contracted Corona. That is, it works so actively. When it enters the body, it can invade various organs, just as in radiology, we see changes in the lungs that affect it, so it can affect the liver and heart and cause sudden deaths.


*You experienced the atmosphere of the war and front, and today are experiencing the Coronavirus. Compare these two.

* The truth is when God will be pleased with us? When the servants of God are pleased with us. Dezful has a river and several bridges. When we were passing under the bridge, an old man was standing there, selling cucumbers. The cucumbers I saw were both large and yellow. I asked him how much each kilo cost? He said a price. I didn't buy it. I was a fifth-year medical student at that time and worked as a jihadist and an operational doctor in a hospital. "What did you do?" said my professor. "I wanted to buy cucumbers," I said. "Why didn't you buy it?" He said. "The cucumbers weren't good," I said. I saw him saying in a tone, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself? He has not left here under the Iraqis’ fire and is selling cucumbers to you and me. "Go and buy it." I went to buy cucumbers, and the instructive point from my professor was that in difficult circumstances, all the people who work may be more rewarded than we are. Everything depends on the intention. The fact is that when your intentions are good and you want to work in any context, you are at peace. When you work in war, you see that your patients are bleeding and you control and they survive, you thank God. We are happy now that we are working for Corona patients and seeing that a number of them recover. To say which is hard and which is easy, it's all a type of service, if we have a spiritual vision. The service that is in the way of God's pleasure, no matter how hard it is, is done calmly. We were very quiet when we went to the area. We were in the area for perhaps 30 to 70 days. When we got back, the guys on the train were joking. In return, they were given leave letters and everyone went to their hometown in love to see his family. Now, in the case of Corona, there is a doctor who has not been home for a month or two. The fact is that we want their family to be safe, have no problems and have normal conditions. For this reason, there may be a little difference. But this is not the main difference, and none of this makes a difference between the doctors who always feel responsible and love people and want to serve their country.


*Tell us if you have a final point and if you think that a memory has been left. Here is the night of memory.

*There was an operation in Dasht-e Abbas area in the south of the country. It was an advancing operation of which I was in charge and I had 100 ambulances. On the night of the operation, we arrived on the road where I had put the wounded on the ground. It started to rain. I raised my hands in the world that was my understanding and said, "God, don't you see the rain?" What should I do with these wounded? How do I move?” In the morning, I saw the Iraqis had turned around us with tanks and came behind us to seize the road and massacre everyone like Operation Karbala 4. There was soft soil behind us. When it rains, it gets very sticky. All the tanks had been stranded, and the IRGC and army forces were spraying to find out which side of the battle this tank belonged to. I just realized what the wisdom of that rain was.

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