Well-done, Doctor!

Narrative of Farid Salehi, who arrived to hospital by a mortar shell in arms

Interview and Compilation: Sarah Rashadizadeh
Translated by: Zahra Hosseinian

2015-09-27


Note: the eight-year Iraqi imposed war against Iran was accompanied by injured, captured and martyred warriors. Often ignoring the pain, warriors went to the field hospital on their own, because of their interest to defend their homeland. Farid Salehi is one of fighters, who was wounded six times from different areas during his time at war, and have many memories of those days; but what made his memories worth listening is the story of a mortar shell which hit his hand and he went to the operating room embracing it.

 

Mr. Salehi, please introduce yourself.

 

I’m Farid Mohammad Salehi, and was born Farvardin, 1346 (April 1967) in Ramsar.

 

How did you enter to the war? and how did you decide to go?

On the one hand, our land and honor was invaded, and at the other hand, accompanying with my neighborhood friends, with whom I was in the same revolutionary range and all of us adhered to the system. Accordingly, we went to the front along together.

 

Which zone was you dispatched first?

My first attendance was in 1360 (1981) at Ramadan Operation, in which I was injured for the first time.

 

How old were you then?

I was 15 years old at that time.

 

Tell us about the moment you were injured first.

My injury has a sad story. We were eight Ramsari guys, who had gone to the front; in Shalamcheh and Mahi lake area several mortar of enemy fell around us. Three of us martyred on the spot and five others were injured. On that operation, shrapnel hit my eye and foot.

 

Due to the distance and our injuring, we could hardly bring ourselves back. In addition, we had three martyrs too. The corpses of our friends, Martyr Moghadam, Asadian and Kaviyani were with us and we did not know what to do.

Our battalion commander, Mr. Ashabi, who martyred later, took himself to us and said: “According to your situation, if you want to bring these martyrs, this is a kind of suicide.”

 

A cleric was in our battalion who related us these words and said that you either captured or dead. Anyway, commander’s advices were starting to become a threat and said: “If you do that, in fact, commit suicide; then, stand here to kill you before are captured by Iraqis!”

Finally, he was reasonable and we had treated sentimental. We left our martyr friend there and returned back. As a result, the three friends of ours are still missing and their bodies have not handed in to their families. Of course, due to the shrapnel which had hit their heads, we had assured that they have martyred.

 

At that time I was 15 years old and my eye and foot had been injured. The lumbar spinal cord of one of my friend, who was affected by blast wave, had been injured too and he couldn’t move his legs. So, one of his arms on my shoulder and the other on the shoulder of my friend, we walked about 15 kilometers hardly and went back.

 

After treatment, did you return to the front?

After a few months of treatment, I was again sent to the front when prepared mentally. And I participated in Moharam operations at the Dehloran and Mosiyan region. I was injured at the end of the same operation again. This time blast wave hit me. I lost my senses because of the effect of intense wave, and I backed home again for spending a period of rest.

 

After two or three months, I was sent to the front for the third time. Then, in 1365, the case of hitting mortar shell to my hand happened, which had its following stories.

Then, I returned to the front again, in 1366 and took part in Valfajr 10 Operation and burnt by chemical weapons. Also, I participated at the liberation of Majnoon Island and there I was injured again. War relics are still in my body and when I put all these things together, I come to this conclusion that God did not will and I failed to pass this divine exam.

In total, how many times did you injure and in which zones?

In total, six times. First time my eye and foot; second time my back and head; third time the shrapnel hit my back. At the fourth injury, my hand was hit by a mortar shell and at fifth time, I was burnt by chemical weapons. Finally, once again my back and leg were injured.

 

Among your injuring adventures, the story of mortar shell hitting to your hand, made a lot of noise. Tell us about that story and your feeling after seeing failed mortar.

In these cases, one needs to be ready before; so when it happens, to be fully prepare. I had taken part at Qods 5 Operation, where confronted to one of Iraqi forces, who resisted much and annoyed our guys. When we moved forward, I said myself that I must go into the trench and see this Iraqi, who annoyed all so much; and it’s very interesting to me that he had bandaged 13 injured areas of his body by a red keffiyeh, and still resisted.

There, I said to myself that when this Iraqi guy, who has invaded our territory with all his ignorance, resisted so wholeheartedly; why shouldn’t we fight wholeheartedly, when we fight for our faith and land? Interestingly, four or five days before that incident of mortar shell hitting, some tiny shrapnel had hit my back. My friends said: “Salehi! Your back is bleeding.” and I said: “They are preparing me, take it easy. Just do something to stop.” Of course, it wasn’t like this I was inflated with pride, but I tried not to withdraw due to one shrapnel hitting and always I was ready. I had prepared the space and bed for myself, and God and prayers of people were with us from zero to one hundred.

When the mortar hit my hand, I felt like the bottom of mortar 60 has hit me. Usually the bottom of mortar hits somewhere and stays, when it explodes. I saw the back of my forearm and felt the bottom of mortar 60. Turning my head, I saw it has unexploded and protruding from the other side of my hand.

You may not believe, but I just told my fellows to stay away from me, the mortar may explode any moment. Ten or fifteen minutes elapsed and I saw nothing happened, so said them, now if you want, come here and help me to take it out. I was on a floating bridge. Very slowly I went toward the motorboat. In all that time and five hours on floating bridge and also those two hours when I was in the water to reach to the Khatam-ul-Anbia hospital on the back of Majnoon Island, I neither lost my consciousness nor blacked out.

In all that time I was looking the mortar, which was in my hand and I splinted by keffiyeh. I was alone in all the way. Two or three other injured was there. But I saw warriors in the way. I didn’t even lose my conscious until I reached to the operating room and I remember discussions were done there.

In the operating room, I heard Dr. Mohajer and other doctors argued. All of them refused my hand surgery because of the risk of mortar explosion. But Dr. Mohajer said: “I washed my hand and go to the operating room; I revoke your license, if you don’t come!”

I don’t forget that surgeon Mohajer entered operating room alone and said: “I have not anaesthetized any patient yet. Anesthesiologist hasn’t come and I don’t know whether the dose of anesthetic is low or high; however, to be content with me. I don’t know what dose you need.”

Anyway, low dose of anesthetic had been injected to me. And I do remember that - after other doctors entered operating room to help Dr. Mohajer - I regained consciousness in the middle of surgery and I said: “well-done, Doc!” Doctor shouted: “The patient has regained conscious! Anaesthetize him again.” This scene and memoir has stuck in my mind.

 

Due to war conditions of the time, how was the equipment of field hospital?

In my opinion, it had good equipment. That underground field hospital belonged to Khatam-ul-Anbia army camp and was fully equipped. In the operating room of that very hospital they took shells out of my hand and transplanted my veins. Some bold doctors worked great there.

 

Let's back to the first week of war, where were you when you heard the news of war for the first time, and what was your feeling?

The first time I heard about the war, I was in the neighborhood Basij with my friends. By the time I was 15 years old. My brother, who was a member of Ramsar Revolutionary Guards, was one of the first dispatched forces to war. He was dispatched to Shush Daniel.

 

Before hearing the war news for the first time, had you heard news or rumors about war among the peoples or on the radio? And did you feel that a long war would be on the way?

I had direct and constant communication with Basij and because I was an active Basij, sometimes heard whispers, which said the Iraqis are going to invade our territory. Of course, we were unaware about the depth of events that had happened at the border in 31 Shahrivar (September). Our information was only on the basis of hearsays. After a while, when I saw the war continues, I waited until my brother came back and by his permission and mediation go to the front. Because of being young, they didn’t send me to the front.

 

Tell us about the first time you entered to the scene of war. What was the first scene you saw, saying: “This is war!”

Shalamcheh was the first place I stepped on it. As soon as we got out of the car and took a few steps, a mortar was shot around us. They said: “Take a leap!" I didn’t even know what it means and I must to lie down. Our chief tapped on my shoulders and said: “lie down.”

It was there that I realized that when I hear the sound of this whistle, must lie down not to injure. Exactly my first leap had led to my foot and knee injuring.

 

According to your age, didn’t regret or scared that moment or didn’t the idea of returning home come to your mind?

Look, on that time, the atmosphere was special. Under the influence of this atmosphere, the youth overshadowed by a passion that there was no other word anymore in the name of fear and fatigue. If our today youth experience the same, surly they won’t function less than the old ones. It’s the case of atmosphere and the psychological state of the people; people didn’t go to the front with the aim of returning then.

 

During the war years, have occurred that being hopeful about the end of war? Or heard news or rumors about the end date of war and last operation?

Yes, sometimes it occurred. We heard some news about the ceasefire negotiations and holding meetings; but, we didn’t expect this fight to be stopped at once. However, there had been expedient in beginning and ending of the war. The war has been over and we couldn’t take full advantage of it and felt sorry. If we knew it ends so soon, certainly took part more and accepted at the divine exam by get closing to God.

 

You and your friend had not tired of war lengthening?

What is incontrovertible is that if someone says parents are not tired, I do not believe. Parents have a particular affection to their children. I’ll never forget that when I wanted to go to the front for the tenth or eleventh time, my father tapped on my shoulder and said: “Son! I've tired of seeing you so wounded. Or don’t go to the front, or if you go, come back this time healthy or die a martyr!” this shows that they also had been tired, under the great psychological pressures and concern about their children.

But about myself I should say that, it was like entering to the football game. It doesn’t have much enjoyment until you haven’t been professional; but when you become professional, enjoyed the game and don’t like to leave the field.

It was like this for us. The war hadn’t pleasure early, but as time passed we took control in our work and enjoyed our performance and plot and knew what to do. I enjoyed my job, because I made the best of my experiences and really they were good for me.

 

Given your conspicuous presence at war, what is your response if ask you about your best and worst memories of that period?

My worst memory is the very first operation that I mentioned it at the beginning; in which   three friends of mine martyred.

About good memories, I do remember that at the Fajr 10 operation, we were the first group to enter the Khormal city and raised the restriction. Then we reported to the forces that they can enter to the city. We had approached the outskirts of Iraq and finally had taken Iraqi’s vehicle; but our mistake was that we didn’t use a white cloth over the car, so that our forces couldn recognize us.

In short, we moved toward insider forces. They started shooting at us from both sides of the road, when saw an Iraqi car is moving quickly toward them. In the meantime, the thumb of my friend, Mr. Gholami - who was driving - was shot. Finally, they targeted our car tires. And I saw the Basij forces attacked us suddenly and then they just realized we aren’t Iraqi.

 

What did you feel, when you were injured by chemical weapons in Majnoon Island? And how on earth did you realize it?

I was in Majnoon Island. It was the end of war and we had to withdraw from the zone. Sardar Mirshekari, Sardar Komail, Sardar Karimiyan and some friends were also with us there. We were at the headquarters of one of the brigades that were ordered to pull back. But we tried to do our best and resisted. Therefore, we were the last ones who came back, when the troops were pulling back.

 

I don’t forget that my leg and chest were hit by shrapnel there. I said to Sardar Karimiyan: “pull out this shrapnel.” His hand burned when he wanted to pull it out from my chest. He said: “Salehi! When has it been hit you?” At the same time, when I was injured, they bombed area by chemical bombs.

As you know, each chemical bomb has its own smell. When chemical gas dispersed in the island, we smelled the scent of fresh herbs and found out that the enemy has used mustard gas and the area has contaminated. The last moments, when we got into the last cars to return, I had fainted and only remember that they lay me down into the bed of Toyota and took me to the hospital.

 

Did you carry along special mask?

We were less in number. Before I got injured, one of my fellows had been. They proclaimed before the operation that the enemy probably used chemical bomb as a last resort. I saw my fellow comrade got wounded, fell on the ground, and have no mask. So, I gave him my mask and lay him down on the bed of insider forces’ Toyota to take him.

I wet my keffiyeh quickly and covered my nose and mouth, when I noted that the air is polluted. My stop on that area was not too long. Although I did not know the exact time, but from the moment I was hit by shrapnel and chemical gas dispersed in the air, until I blacked out and was took out from the area, it took up to five minutes.

 

The last time you were at the front, in which area and operation you were? Did you know that you can’t go to the front?

My last presence in the front was in Valfajr 10 operation. We didn’t know that the war has been over. I was in Ramsar, when the news about war ending was broadcasted.

 

What happened after the war? You wanted to engage in which job after returning?

After the war, the issue of my employment was raised. I passed training courses of Telecommunications Systems and for seven years I was the head of Ramsar’s TCS, and now I’m heading the TCS of one of province’s city.

 

Do you have still any relationship with your fellow comrades?

Yes, in conferences and various events I see them. Moreover, I’m still socializing with some of my friends and we are still together.

 

For what do you missed more, when you missed those days?

I missed my martyred friends.

 

As a final speech, tell us the names of your closest friends?

Martyr Sarvari, martyr Ramezani, martyr Baqeri nasab, and 111 martyrs with whom I’ve taken photo.

 

 



 
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