Published: Wed Apr 26, 2006A Tennessee Tech University police officer who recently served a tour of duty with the 3/278th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq has been awarded a Bronze Star medal for his exceptional service as a platoon sergeant for medics.
But Don Frazier says he was really just being “the platoon daddy,” providing the equipment, supplies and personnel necessary for his mission to be fulfilled.
“I don’t know how exceptional it was — I was just doing my job,” Frazier said.
Field medical assistant Lance Frizzell, who recommended Frazier for the award, outlined some of the soldier’s outstanding achievements, which included the supervision of an aid station that treated 1,044 patients and air evacuated 36 in about six months, between December 2004 and June 2005.
“Frazier coordinated 44 village medical assessment visits that provided treatment to 680 Iraqi men, women and children who would not have otherwise had access to healthcare,” Frizzell said.
In his area of operation, which was located in the top northeast quadrant of Iraq very near the Iranian border, Frazier said his platoon treated injuries and diseases typical for the poorest countries in the world — dysentery, gout, tuberculosis and old war injuries.
“One lady’s eye had rotted to a withering piece of tissue hanging out of her socket,” he said.
In addition to helping such people in need, however, some of those medical assessment visits also served another purpose — providing the troops an opportunity to try to locate Iraqi insurgents.
During Iraqi elections, Frazier even coordinated medical assessment visits to the election sites in order to help prevent the likelihood of insurgent attacks and mass casualties.
“At first, we helped everyone who could get through the check points to reach us, but we had to scale back to helping Americans, contractors, Iraqi soldiers and Iraqis with life-threatening injuries because we were just overwhelmed,” he said.
Another achievement Frizzell mentions in his recommendation is Frazier’s redesign and management of the squadron’s daily medical status report.
“I added graphics to the existing report and redesigned it to separate Iraqi injuries — which mostly consisted of blast and gunshot wounds — from American injuries,” Frazier said.
He made a practice of sending the previous day’s report to the regimental headquarters each morning, which allowed the regimental surgeon to follow sick call trends throughout the squadron’s area of operations.
“In Vietnam, this information wasn’t compiled until it was too late to do anything about the current situation,” he said. “In Iraq, we could get an airlift of the medicines we needed to treat an outbreak of anything in 24 hours,” he said.
Frazier joined the Navy right out of high school, and including his years of inactive reserve, has been involved in the military for 30 years. He was deployed to Diego Garcia in 1976, where he helped build a runway where B-52s that helped liberate Kuwait during the Gulf War took off on their missions.
He has been stationed in Spain and Sicily and has also earned the Army Commendation and Good Conduct medals.
“I started my military career at 19, and I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said. “I’ve been on million-dollar operations, and I know in my heart I’ve made a difference. What a great opportunity that is!”