We Were Soldiers Once and Young
“As a leader you should lead from the front,” retired Captain Jeffery F. Peacock advised me. Captain Peacock established his entire military service toward assisting and leading others in which he truly put himself second to the world. His service and sacrifice has taught me to better value and comprehend the concepts of fellowship.
Captain Peacock and I share the same zeal towards the practice of medicine. Peacock would eventually come to retire as a battalion surgeon, but how he arrived there is incomparable to any valor I have ever witnessed. Arriving in Baghdad March 2003 to commence his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Captain Peacock grounded himself as a company commander, totaling eighteen months in service, and commanding around four-hundred successful convoy operations. “I thought we were gonna die (…) but I was ready.” Peacock did everything in his authority to protect those around him and all while simultaneously contributing toward supporting their mission.
After Captain Peacock had endured reinforcing the University of Baghdad, the Army had sent him to graduate school. Captain Peacock attended San Antonio, Texas for medical training and field experience utilizing his previous college background in biochemistry. Two months before he was stipulated to return home, a terrorist organization from Pakistan was plotting to assassinate him. Peacock and his team had established a small clinic connected to a school house where Afghans could treat and mentor their own students.
“At the time, we were totally slick. We weren’t wearing body armor, simply concealed carry.” (Peacock). He explained that his partner, another captain, informed him that he received a report from the Central Intelligence Agency that “there was an imminent attack with possible suicide bombers.” But in a warzone, Peacock had heard that kind of information daily, so he acknowledged it, but kept a level head at such repetitiveness. He focused on assisting his partner with the equipment he had acclaimed earlier until he had come face-to-face with a suicide bomber. “Time truly stopped…and it should have killed me,” he declared.
The blast had knocked him off his feet almost forty feet away and avowed him unconscious for several minutes. When he first awoke, he immediately extracted his rifle and started making reports to headquarters. Peacock’s first instincts were his students and nurses, but unfortunately; he would come to find that he lost about three dozen of them in the blast.
Retired and with a Purple Heart, Peacock continues to spread his fervor for the practice of medicine as program director for his physician’s assistant program at a local college. When interviewed, I asked Peacock what he was missing about the military. He stated, “the reward of being able to lead and build a team to accomplish an impossible task.” Peacock expressed his melancholy about leaving the Army, but two things had gotten him through these pressing times: Jesus Christ and a great wife.