Angels in Iraq

Sam’s Medical Status:  I spoke to Julie late last night.  She said it was a good day for Sam.  Erin noticed three tears coming from Sam’s eyes—she also said his eye lids kept moving through most of the day.  Today, August 12th, is Sam’s birthday—He turns 23.  Julie said she got him a cake and is going to share it with the staff at the hospital along with Sam’s mother Kelley and his brother Donny.  I know we all can’t be there with Sam on this special day, but I know you are all there in spirit and I know he feels our prayers.

USN insignia with eagle and flag I received a very heart warming email yesterday!  It was from James “Doc” Hansen.  Doc Hansen is a Navy Corpsman assigned to Kilo Battery (Sam’s squad).  For those of you who don’t know, a Navy Corpsman (similar to an Army medic) is assigned to a Marine battery and travels with the Marines as they go into battle.  The Corpsman is their first level of response for any type of medical emergency (small or large) and they are “respectfully” known to the platoon or battery as “Doc”. 

I wanted to share with you portions of Doc Hansen’s email:

“My Name is James Hansen.  Sgt. Nichols knows me as “Doc Hansen”— I am the Senor Hospital Corpsman for Kilo Battery.  I was there that fateful day when he was injured, but I was not the one who saved his life (I was responding to the casualties in the first vehicle that was hit).  That honor belongs to Doc Couhie and several of the Marines in the platoon…

…I have always been fond of Sgt. Nichols and am proud to call him a
friend.  I will continue to pray for him, Erin, and the rest of
you—fighting the good fight on the home front in such a heart
wrenching situation…

…even though I do not pretend to know God’s plan for Sam, I do know that Sam and others have fought really hard for him to survive all that he has.  I think that is because the Lord still has some plans for him in this life.  So even though he may by down, Sam is a fighter and he is not out!

…Please tell Sam (I believe he can still hear us) That Doc Hansen said he is going to pull through and the whole platoon is pulling for him.  Marines have a lot of confidence in there Doc’s, in regards to medical matters.  I wish I was there to tell him myself.

Thank you for your time—God be with you all.”
HM2 James E. Hansen USN 

I know the reason Sam is alive today, is because of the dedication and professionalism of the Navy Corpsmen.  I feel so honored that James took the time to email me and share his experiences, thoughts and words of hope for Sam. Words cannot express the gratitude and admiration I have for him, Doc Couhie and all Navy Corpsmen and medical personal who take care of our Marines.  We will be forever in their debt.

Navy Corpsmen Facts: (from

Twenty-two Navy corpsmen have been awarded the Medal of Honor, America’s highest decoration, for extreme heroism.  Many have been awarded posthumously.

On the island of Iwo Jima, February 1945, the heroism of four Navy Corpsmen were awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism.

During World War II, seventy-six Navy Corpsmen were awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest award for heroism for the Navy and Marine Corps.

“There is no person more respected and loved by Marines than their “Doc” – their Corpsman who shares the hardship and misery of combat to save Marines lives, sometimes sacrificing their own.  Navy Corpsman are true hero’s to all of us who wore the Marine uniform”

– LtGen. Michael A. Hough, USMC (Ret), Former Deputy Commadant of Aviation


15 Responses to Angels in Iraq

  1. Nicole Moen says:

    WOW!!!! This is GREAT news about Sam! Today I went to Sam’s MYSPACE page and left him a birthday comment. I said for his birthday wish since he couldn’t make one, I would make it for him and that was for him to wake up and come back to all of us. Sam hurry up and come back to us PLEASE!!! Sam you are a true American hero, your my American hero. My brother Jason Curry was a friend of Sam’s back in high school. He graduated in 1999. When Sam was a Freshmen, my brother Jason was the Drill Team commander, and is one of the upper-classmen who showed Sam about the Drill Team, and who taught him how to do the Drill Team stuff. My brother sends out his love and prayers. On his way to church today I asked him to pray for Sam. He said of corse, and asked for this website to give to everyone. So he will be sharing this heroic story of Sam at his church, and they will also be praying for Sam, Erin, and the family. Tony I can’t stress to you enough how thankful I am for having you create this wonderful website!!! If it weren’t for you Tony, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to pray for Sam like the way were are now. Example like today, my brother and his church wouldn’t be able to pray for Sam, and Erin, and the family without this website because I wouldn’t have known any or barely any information on Sam’s condition. ONCE AGAIN TONY, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR EVERYTHING, AND EVERYTHING YOU ARE DOING, AND MOST OF ALL, THIS BEAUTIFUL WEBSITE!!!!!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL, AND I WILL CONTINUE PRAY EVERYDAY!!!!!!


  2. Liz Finberg-Timmerman says:

    Happy Birthday Sam!!!!! I love you! I know its been my wish for Sam to wake up on his birthday. I am so happy to hear that he is more responsive. Im praying for you Erin and Kelley you know how much I love you. I wish I could be there to hold your hand. My mother sends her best and we are continuing to pray for Sam and all of you at my mothers temple. Thank you Tony for continuing this blog. It means so much to me.


  3. Jesse Foster says:

    Happy Birthday Sam!

  4. Aunt Joni says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMMY!!!!!!!!!! We love you!!!

    Aunt Joni, Uncle Mark & Callie send our prayers. Joey just looks at Sam’s picture and says “SA, COME, COME, AHWIN COME HOME!!!”

    I think this is Joey’s way of praying!!! In the purest of all his innocence and desire and in his words, we all just want both of you to “SA, COME, COME, AHWIN COME HOME!!!”

    As always, nothing gets by Joey and he senses all of our grief. Joey absolutely adores Sam. Anyone who knows the relationship knows that Erin (and now Sam) are two of his favorite people in the whole entire world!!!

    You are two of my favorite people as well, and I’m so proud of you both. ERIN, you are being so strong and SAM is fighting so hard. THIS COULD PROVE TO BE HIS BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!!!!! I’m certainly praying for a birthday miracle!!!!

    Always, and with my prayers,
    Aunt Joni

  5. Carol Calloway says:

    Happy Birthday, Sam! May your next birthday be one which you celebrate your way with all your family and friends. I continue to pray!!!!

  6. 'Doc' Kauffman says:

    I and a few more of your Marine buddies, and Vietnam Veterans want you to get your strength back. It is your Birthday and you deserve many more!
    You graced our lives at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Sacramento, CA after your first tour. Thank you for joining us with the Reading of our KIAs from those Californians listed there. You represented your Iraq brothers, and looked so distinguished in your dress uniform. Your pride was overwelming and heart warming. “Semper Fi”
    Your inner strength and character will prevail now! God bless you for the sacrifices you have endured already. Rest in your coma and heal those wounds, as your body will protect you until you are strong enough for your recovery.
    “Espirit a Corps”, to my fellow Corpsman in the field who cared for you in the field, and as they continue to care for you.
    Vietnam Veterans of America; Sacramento Valley’s Chapter 500 is awaiting for your return!

  7. Father…You said in your Holy Word that whatsoever is bound on Earth, will be bound in Heaven, and that whatsoever we ask in your name, will be done, so in the name of the Lord Jesus, we now come to you and ask you to heal Sam; in a way that ONLY You can do, and we promise to give You the Honor and Glory for it; We trust you God, above all things, and no matter what happens, we know that you are in control of all things. Nothing wavering, and having no doubt, that you can bring Sam through this, we thank you and praise you in Jesus’ name, Amen

  8. The Auernigs says:

    First things first, Happy Birthday Sam! Secondly, I don’t even think you know us, however, you have touched our lives. You are our American hero! We know of you through friends and through friends, you have become one of ours. And in our friends eyes, we see just how much you are loved , admired and respected. We see their pain in knowing you are in pain. We send our prayers for your recovery and pray that one day, we will get the pleasure of meeting our American hero.

  9. Meghann Wernegreen says:

    (Tanjoubi omedetou, Sam!)

    Or, for us English speaking folks, Happy Birthday, Sam! Many prayers and good wishes coming your way from Okinawa. We love you!!!


    John, Meghann, Jordan, Audrey, Jackson, Amelia, and of course the doxie’s, Lola and Lucy! Also know as….The Wernegreen Bunch. 🙂

    “Semper Fidelis, to my brother” from John, also, who’s on his way home….

  10. Erin Nichols says:

    I know that a lot of you are very religious, and a lot have you, probably most of us have been pulled closer to God thru this experience. I believe that God is waiting for more of us to wake up to him, before he can wake up Sam. Please forgive me if you don’t want to be preached at, but I feel I’ve been called to do this. Before 2 weeks ago the whole “born again thing” really creeped me out, but I cannot put into words the difference I feel from August 1, deep in despair, and August 2, the day I was saved and filled with faith and strength.

    If you don’t have a bible please get one or borrow one. I recommend the New King James Version; it’s easier to read. The word of God will lift us all. If you think you might be interested in being born again please go to Sam’s Uncle Greg’s website: Greg is a minister and has been my spiritual mentor for the last couple of weeks. If you go to the “teachings” tab you can learn about being born again and receiving the Holy Spirit. He also has a tab specifically for Sam, where much like this site, you can read and write comments about Sam.

    Read chapter 3 of the book of John and chapters 1 and 2 of Acts. The more we make ourselves accesible to God, the better he can use us to heal Sam.

    Last night I met the wife of the Marine in the room next to Sam. She stopped by to see him and wish him a happy birthday. When she saw him, her first thought was,”oh my gosh, Sam is almost awake.” She told me that she can feel a presence around our husbands. Her husband’s name is Eddie; he needs our prayers too, especially for his sight.

    Thank you for indulging me. According to science, Sam’s brain will not heal itself. We need God to make Sam whole. I hope some of you follow my example. Sam will be raised by God’s word. Thank you all again for your prayers, love and support.

  11. Liz Finberg-Timmerman says:

    I am continuing to pray for Sam and ur family every day! I will also pray for Eddie and all our troops just as I always have. At this time Id just like to thank the Nerias and Nichols for being such caring people. You really made ROTC worthwhile, easier, and a little more like a family. I felt especially close to Sam and his parents. I remember the first time Sam brought me home to meet Eric and Kelley; I went to shake their hands and they reached out their arms and said “nope, we hug in this family”. I was so happy. They made me feel loved every time I came over. I was honored when 2 yrs later at Sam and Erins wedding Kelley told me she had saved me a seat up front with the family.

  12. Jessica Augerlavoie-Teeters says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Sam!!! I’m so sad I didn’t get to say that yesterday. Erin, we are continuing to pray, and we are with you. We all want Sam to awaken so that he can heal. God is with Sam, and Eddie. I pray for all of the Soldier’s every day, and their families. Everyone is on a different place in their walk to the Lord, some even off the path. One thing to keep in mind, is for some, the change is felt and almost immediate as in Erin’s case. For others who have been saved and are now reaccepting the Lord Jesus Chirst as our Savior, as in my case, it is more subtle. But I am sure I could be doing more in getting closer with the Lord. We are all one big family, and no one gets left behind.

  13. Liz Finberg-Timmerman says:

    We are all connected. Over this last year i moved in with a sweet girl named Jenelle Neria. One night my other roommate Dawn was going through a box of my photos and ran across some pictures of Sam and I from my 18th bday party. It was that night that I learned Jenelle had met Sam during his trip to Australia. I am praying everyday. I hope Sam can fight the pneumonia. Thank you to everyone in Maryland that can be by his side now.

  14. Justin turnbow says:

    Sam im still prayin for you man. Keep fightin!

  15. Justin Turnbow says:

    Whats up hows Sam doin? Good luck to you all!

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