Veteran Salute: Desert Storm Medic saw many find religion

Veteran Salute

A Desert Storm veteran said once she graduated with a teaching degree she couldn’t find a job, so that’s when she turned to the military.

Cathy Gillespie said after things didn’t go as planned for her to join the Air Force, she joined the Army.

The branch allowed her to choose her career path, so she became a Medic, a decision she is still proud of today and would do all over again.

“Sometimes I still think it was yesterday,” Desert Storm veteran Cathy Gillespie said.

Then sometimes Cathy Gillespie realizes it’s been nearly 30 years since she served.

Gillespie says the first time her boots left the country she never dreamed the Army would take her to South Korea during the Olympic Games.

“We had one mass casualty while I was there. A Chinook went down with a platoon of Marines,” Gillespie said. 

Gillespie was with the 461st Medical Detachment at the time.

“It was our job to produce and to make and to supply all of the blood products to get those troops healed up,” Gillespie said. 

The Medics were part of a blood bank and they relied on military personnel to give, to supply their fellow comrades.

“We always go into battle with the flag first,” Gillespie said.

And that’s exactly what Gillepsie and other soldiers did when they were called up for Desert Storm.

“One day you are sitting at home and then the next day you get that phone call with orders and they say get in here,” Gillespie said. 

She said four days later the soldiers were in Saudi Arabia.

“Barbara Bush made a speech thanking us all, for what we were getting ready to do and she shook each one of our hands, before we got on the plane and that touched my heart,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said once they landed…. 

“There’s a lot of nasty stuff over there. We’d be going along and everybody would be fine and then pretty soon I would have 30 or 40 people,” Gillespie said. 

She said it was their job to keep everyone healthy, all so that the troops could keep moving.

“Probably average I carried about 60 pounds in my Medic bag, because of the IV fluids I had to carry with me,” Gillespie said. 

She said she saw so many find religion along the way.

“I think a lot of people hadn’t really thought about it, until their life was on the line. They decided, you know, they better, as they say there’s no atheist in a foxhole,” Gillespie said.

She said often times they relied on prayer, because Medics never know if those they serve ever make it home alive or back into the fight.

Gillespie says when they had the opportunity to meet Barbara Bush, Lee Greenwood was there too and sang God Bless the USA, so that song always takes her back.

She now lives a pretty quiet life on a farm in between Towanda and Benton.

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