Brandt, Mary Margaret Maggie

Item

Title

Brandt, Mary Margaret Maggie

Performer

Mary Margaret Maggie Brandt

Interviewer

William Vollano

Description

Maggie Brandt was a surgery resident in New Mexico in 1992, when she was recruited into the Army reserves. She wanted an opportunity to give back to her country. Therefore, Maggie went to officer basic training in San Antonio and was assigned as a reservist to Brook Military Hospital’s burn unit. As an army reservist, she was assigned to the 452nd combat support hospital, out of Fort McCoy. Her first deployment was to Afghanistan in 2003, where she was stationed at the air base in Bagram. While in Afghanistan, she saw little active combat. She worked with small mobile medical components, of about 30 beds. She took care of local nationals (Afghan citizens) and Americans in Afghanistan. The most common injuries were from mines. Most Americans were evacuated to Germany within 72 hours because of the better specialist care and proximity to home. The most severe and common injuries were mine-related, but Maggie also saw sniper injuries and vehicle crash injuries. She thought the Afghanistan countryside was beautiful. Maggie’s second tour of duty was in Iraq, where she was stationed in Baghdad, from May to August of 2007. She was commander of the 9th Forward Surgical team, made up of 20 staff who practiced emergency surgery. She was a part of the “90-day boots on the ground rule,” which states that doctors who land in combat zones are there for 90 days. This was implemented to allow for an easier return to practices back in the US. Prior to her arrival in Iraq, she had already spent three months in further training at Fort McCoy. They worked in Saddam’s private hospital, which had been taken over by US troops and located in the “fortified green zone” near the palace. Their building sustained indirect fire almost every day, (mortars, rockets etc.) and she described it as busy and scary. In Iraq, Maggie saw many injuries, mainly due to specific weapons, particularly IED’s (Improvised Explosive Device) and EFPs (Explosively Formed Penetrator). These weapons cause devastating injuries, and many burn injuries result from them. There has been an active burn surgeon in Baghdad since 2003, because of the injuries caused by these explosives to soldiers. The objective was to get American burn patients airlifted out within 12 hours. To do this, they would scrub and dress wounds prior to the patient’s flights to Germany. If the soldier was very sick, they would stay until they were safe to move. It was physically hard work and it was very hot. Maggie had to be very precise in her work. The first American nurse killed since Vietnam had been sent to this hospital, and Maggie took care of her. She said it was hard to take care of people you know personally. Maggie, and the physicians stationed with her were ordered to wear body armor after they first arrived, whenever they left the building. After the death of the nurse, these orders were resumed. As Maggie’s tenure as commander was ending, she was transferred to the IMA (Individual Mobilization Augmentee) in an active-duty post. This means that if the Army needs a substitute or additional physician, she is on call for the position (burn unit specialist). Maggie now works at Henry Ford Hospital, in downtown Detroit, as the associate Director of the surgical ICU, and the program director of critical care fellowship.

Date Span

2003-2007
Dates of Service

Subject

Commissioned; United States Army; 452nd Combat Support Hospital; 28th Combat Support Hospital; Army Reserve; Afghan War, 2001-; Iraq War, 2003-2011; Afghanistan; Iraq; Lieutenant Colonel

Publisher

Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Collection Location

1/14
https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/loc.natlib.afc2001001.67988

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