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From Barnes & NobleAt an age when most men retire from the military, Hnida became its newest recruit. After the Columbine tragedy devastated his Colorado community, he needed to make a difference. So this general practitioner, whose practice was mostly pediatric, found himself in the sandy trenches of Iraq.
What he learned was this: to bond quickly with his fellow doctors, and to use his wit to make it through each day with a forced banter. He joked about the bad food, the military lingo, and the sweltering heat. He developed little daily rituals to bring him luck. He didn't try to make sense of the war, but he did begin to comprehend — at least in part — why his father drank so much after his World War II combat experience.
Most of all, Hnida worked his tail off treating very young men. Most of them he saved. Some he kept alive so they could return home to say their final goodbyes. With every decision a critical one, he hoped and prayed he was doing everything right, and worked on those soldiers as if they were his own children.
Just three months long, Hnida's stint was nothing compared to the twelve- and eighteen-month tours other soldiers are pulling. His memories are enduring, his new outlook on life remains, and the embrace of his family when he returned home never felt so sweet.
—Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run