Thirteen years ago, Chief Dawn Ellis was in the Persian Gulf, treating patients in a fleet hospital. This time, while others at the Naval Hospital in Beaufort have gone to the gulf, she's staying behind. She tells us she has been talking with our local group of sailors in that fleet hospital and tells me they're doing good. But, she says it's killing her, knowing she's not there with them.
"For half your unit to go and you not be a part of that, it's hard because you want to be there with them," Chief Ellis said.
She may be thousands of miles away from her comrades serving in the Middle East, but they aren't far from her mind. She knows what they're going through.
"They're having the same anticipations and I had, but they seem to be doing very well," she said.
Chief Ellis now serves as the command's career counselor. But 13 years ago, during the first Gulf War, she too was part of a fleet hospital in the desert, serving in the casualty receiving area of the Al Jubayl 500-bed facility. Although she was used to seeing major trauma, her experiences never prepared her for the harsh realities of war.
"I think the hardest thing for me to see the camaraderie when a Marine would bring another Marine in and they wouldn't want to leave their side," Chief Ellis recalled. "That was hard, harder to deal with than seeing the injuries themselves."
Although she is doing her part back in Beaufort, she'd rather be in the Middle East.
"It gives you almost a sense of guilt that we're not there with our friends," she said.