Emotional Air Force physician recounts ‘honor’ of serving those who served

FAIRFIELD — Col. Rachel A. Hight on Monday recounted, sometimes graphically, the trauma she witnessed during her first deployment to Afghanistan.

“While our (medical) teams sustained a 99 percent survival rate . . . we still had those who succumbed to these tremendously devastating injuries. Thankfully, that was rare,” said Hight, who headed those teams at Bagram Air Field during the height of the troop surge in 2010.

“The entire hospital would line the route for these fallen warriors in a tribute to their sacrifice,” Hight said. “The members would be transported out in dignity and honor.”

It was with that same intention of dignity and honor that more than 100 people attended the Memorial Day ceremony Monday at the old Solano County courthouse, in front of which is engraved the 487 names of those local men who died while serving their country: 332 in World War II; 61 in Vietnam; 60 in World War I; 26 in Korea; and eight in the war on terrorism.

Hight, the commander of the 60th Surgical Operations Squadron at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base, was the keynote speaker at the event, put on by Veterans of Foreign Wars Simmons-Sheldon Post and Auxiliary No. 2333.

The 1994 Air Force Academy graduate, and medical graduate of the Uniformed Services University, told how she participated in only one of the full ceremonies for those who had died. It was all she could do.

“The surging impact to my heart was too much to do that more than once during my six-month deployment,” Hight said.

As she prepared for her second deployment in 2014, Hight said she went over every case log from her first time in Afghanistan. It was a task she said she had to complete in order to be mentally prepared for what might await her.

“I spent about six hours that day on the computer, looking up American heroes, and crying,” said Hight, who fought back tears Monday as she recounted her story.

“I was crying with joy to see that so…

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