Cheri Arnold – an Air Force Wounded Warrior Who Loves to Hunt and Shoot
Day 1: Air Force Medical Technician Cheri Arnold Injures Her Back during Desert Storm
I was invited to a Wounded Warrior event www.woundedwarriorproject.org held in north Alabama recently. Twelve veterans from several-different parts of the U.S. from various wars were invited to go fishing and hunting and spend a week outdoors as a part of the Camp OuTAmongEM. I was invited by my longtime friend, J. Wayne Fears, and Rodger Graves to come to the OuTAmongEM Deer Hunt. I met Cheri Arnold and the other veterans at the chuck wagon where Fears and Graves were preparing food for these Wounded Warriors on a campfire - traditional frontier cooking over an open fire using reflector ovens, Dutch ovens and cast-iron pots like the early frontiersmen cooked in as they moved their homes and families from the East to the West.
“We put on this chuck-wagon cookout to say thank you for the service of the Wounded Warriors who’ve been selected to come to this event,” Fears explains. “The freedoms we enjoy today, and all of the great advantages we have living here in America are the results of these people’s service. We should never forget the men and women who haven’t returned from defending freedom in all points of the world. And, we always want to honor and at least try to give back to the warriors who’ve returned home from their military service.”
One of the Wounded Warriors I met was Cheri Arnold from Wood, Arkansas, a Desert Storm veteran. She served as an Air Force Medical Technician and was injured when a gurney malfunctioned and collapsed. We often think of wounded warriors as young men, 19- to 25-years old, who have fought in combat and been injured in battles. However, many wounded warriors never have fought in battles, but have put their lives on the line to serve their comrades in arms.
Cheri Arnold was at Travis Airfield base in Fairfield, California, when she was called-up to be a part of Desert Storm. Her assignment was to go to a field hospital in England that had been closed-down since WWII. Arnold and her team set-up at the hospital to take care of the wounded warriors from Desert Storm. She took care of patients with traumatic amputations, patients who had suffered gunshots and shrapnel wounds, back-injury patients and chronic-allergy sufferers. As Arnold was taking one of the patients from the ward to the operating room for surgery and was transferring her patient from the hospital bed to the gurney to roll into the operating room, the gurney collapsed. She put herself in harm’s way to protect her patient, and because of the odd movement she had to make, she tore-up her back.
“When my accident happened, it hurt like hell,” Arnold recalls today. But never shirking her duty because of injury, Arnold got her patient back on the gurney and took him to the operating room, before she went to the emergency room herself to be treated. In the emergency room, she heard the words, “Cheri, you should have come in immediately rather than carrying on to take your patient to the operating room.” But being conscious of her responsibilities, Arnold stayed in the hospital for only a week and then returned to her station. That injury caused her to get arthritis in her spine, but her struggle with back pain just had begun.
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Tomorrow: As an Incomplete Paraplegic Air Force Veteran Cheri Arnold Learns to Have a Life