Another milestone for Chimpy’s Vanity War.
The giant transport planes unload their sad cargo at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, the first stop home for the most seriously injured Americans of the Iraq war. Arriving virtually every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday nights for the past four years, the parade of wounded warriors may be one of the most predictable events in an otherwise unruly conflict.
Last Tuesday marked another grim milestone: the arrival of the 500th amputee. Army officials said the victim, a 24-year-old corporal, lost both legs in a roadside bomb explosion on January 12. He was treated at the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, before landing at Andrews and being taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The corporal became the newest resident of Ward 57, the hospital’s renowned amputee center that has swelled with casualties since 2003. Limb-loss has occurred twice as often in Iraq as in any conflict of the past century, except for Vietnam, for which there are no good statistics. The 500 major amputations — toes and fingers aren’t counted — represent 2.2% of the 22,700 U.S. troops wounded in action. But the number rises to 5% in the category of soldiers whose wounds prevent them returning to duty.