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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, February 23, 2006

Battlefield doctor turns fear to heroism

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

Richard Jadick doesn’t see himself as a hero. He doesn’t even think of himself as especially brave. And he’s adamant in saying he wasn’t acting for a political cause.

He’s a doctor who was saving lives — he was doing his job; that’s all, he says.

Jadick was awarded the Bronze Star last month. The "heroic actions" for which he is cited as a battalion surgeon in Iraq were "not for any political cause but because you’re out there with your buddies," he said this week.

The lieutenant commander, who grew up in Slingerlands, is cited for his work over 11 days — from Nov. 8 to 19, 2004 — with the First Marine Division.

On Jan. 30, he received the Bronze Star with a combat "V" for valor for his rescue and resuscitation work during the battle in Fallujah, considered the Marines’ heaviest urban combat since 1968 in Vietnam’s Hue City.

Jadick, who is 40, credits his young corpsman and other officers with the success of the operation that saw more than 90 combat casualties, and also treated Iraqi civilians.

"Jadick provided advanced trauma life-saving care to combat casualties at the forward edge of the battle area," says the citation. "Organizing and implementing a concept that would push medical assistance as far forward as possible, he led a team of six corpsmen into the heart of Fallujah to ensure resuscitative medicine was immediately available for all Marines in the battalion’s battle space.

"Once on deck, he assumed the duties of lead triage officer and accepted the most gravely wounded Marines, providing outstanding front-line care, directly saving the lives of severely injured Marines and sailors.

"He did this under arduous and extreme combat conditions while under fire and with great risk of injury from enemy combatants."

It is as rare for a doctor to be awarded a Bronze Star as it is to set up a field hospital in the midst of a battle; they are usually safely behind combat lines.

"I figured the closer we were, the better chance we had of getting guys out," Jadick told The Enterprise, in a phone interview from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta where he remains on active duty while serving a four-year residency.

He credited the chief petty officer with being "wise in the ways of war" and backing the plan to move Jadick’s medical team into the combat operations center in the Al Fallujah government complex.

The citation describes a rescue on Nov. 9, 2004, where Jadick was the lead medical officer in the evacuation of six Marines and a sailor. A radio call said the sailor had "a sucking chest wound," so Jadick knew time was of the essence and decided to travel into the city with an armored ambulance to save him.

Jadick and four members of the ambulance crew moved towards the sailor despite intense rocket and small-arms fire. The sailor was loaded onto the armored ambulance where Jadick could begin medical treatment, saving his life.

Later that day, in making another rescue, a rocket-propelled grenade careened off the top of the ambulance. "Undaunted and with a total disregard for his own safety," the citation says, "Lieutenant Commander Jadick stood on the open hatch of the ambulance and directed the loading of the patients, urging on the Marines, soldiers, and sailors while small arms fire hit the ambulance and nearby walls.

"All told, seven critically wounded Marines and sailors were evacuated on that trip, with six of the seven surviving their wounds."

Asked how he continued "with a total disregard for his own safety," Jadick said, "It sounds better than it was. I was scared to death. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run under a rock — but I didn’t.

"There’s fear. But then there’s fear of failure. Fear of failure outweighs fear for yourself," he said.

That fear of failure, he said, is a "fear of letting people down, the people you’re out there with. That’s why you do it."

"Medical mind and muscle"

The citation goes on to describe how, on Nov. 10, Jadick moved his medical team to the government complex in Fallujah. "Under intense sniper fire and continuous rocket and mortar attacks, he became the medical mind and muscle of a facility that would prove to be invaluable in stabilizing casualties and saving lives," says the citation.

Asked what it was like to work under those conditions, Jadick said, although he had two years of general surgery and had spent "a lot of time in trauma," including training in a shock trauma center, this was different.

"I know the protocols and simplified," he said. "I put together a forward-aid station." This involved "a couple of armored ambulances," staffed by himself and several corpsman.

His team of young corpsman had no battle experience and many had not even been in a hospital. "They were kids — 18, 19 years old — who had trained on dummies," said Jadick.

They learned essential skills, like putting in intravenous lines, by "sticking a lot of IV’s on themselves," said Jadick.

"We haven’t seen this going on since Vietnam," Jadick said of the massive battle casualties. "Even with the roadside bombings, it’s not the same. Some sustained combat for 30 days."

The citation says that Jadick "inspired his team of young corpsmen." It goes on to describe Jadick working "feverishly in the open of the compound’s parking lot" while rockets exploded around him.

Jadick described how he set up the aid station to triage casualties. This meant dividing the wounded into four categories — immediate, routine, delayed, expectant.

"That means they’re going to die," he said softly of those in the "expectant" category.

Jadick said making such decisions was difficult but necessary.

"It’s discomforting at best," he said. "There are things you will wonder about the rest of your life."

Asked if he is haunted by the memories, Jadick replied firmly, "No. I did what I had to do."

"Many more would have perished"

The citation goes on to describe the events of Nov. 13, 2004. Another 20 urgent casualties had been evacuated from the forward edge of the battlefield to the field hospital. Jadick, working without rest, observed muzzle flashes in the buildings directly to his front.

"Enemy sniper fire impacted all about him as he yelled for everyone to take cover," it says. "He then directed the entire Mobile Assault Platoon Section to the location of the enemy sniper...eliminating the threat."

Asked if a doctor feels a conflict in the midst of battle between saving lives and directing a killing, Jadick said that was something he had to work through beforehand so he could be prepared to act swiftly.

Describing the mindset of a doctor in battle, he said, "In one swift second, there are decisions you have to make...Somebody dies. That’s a fact no matter what your decision is.

"If it’s not me, it’s my patient — or the guy shooting at us. You come to terms with that before you do anything...If I didn’t do anything, I would be dead or my patients would.

"Hippocratically," Jadick said, referring to the oath of ethical professional behavior sworn by new physicians, "I took care of my patients."

The citation concludes, "Over this 11-day period, Lieutenant Commander Jadick directed the care and treatment of 90 total combat casualties with 60 coming in the first three days of his arrival at the Iraqi government complex. He treated and evacuated casualties while under direct fire from local insurgent snipers as well as from indirect enemy fire from mortar and rocket positions.

"He demonstrated extreme courage and dedication to his profession by providing Advance Trauma Life Saving procedures far forward of any other aid station. Without Lieutenant Commander Jadick’s leadership, unsurpassed technical skills, bravery, and total dedication to his unit and its Marines, many more would have perished in combat...."

The ultimate satisfaction, said Jadick, is knowing lives have been saved.

"Eyes wide open"

A year ago, at the end of January in 2005, Jadick returned to the United States — to his wife, Melissa, and to their daughter, MacKenzie, who was born just five days before he left for Iraq.

"I’ve been on the ground, running," he said, since his homecoming. Just two weeks after his return, Jadick moved his family to Augusta to start his residency at the Medical College of Georgia.

He said of his wife, raising their baby while he served in Iraq, "She coped pretty well. She’s been around the military awhile."

MacKenzie is now 20 months old.

Jadick says he has no regrets or complaints about his military service, even through times of war, and he’d do it again if called upon.

"I’ve got 16 years in the Navy," said Jadick. "They’re paying me to be here."

After graduating from Bethlehem High School, he thought being a doctor "looked cool," Jadick said. "I had no money; I couldn’t afford to go to college."

The Marine Corps paid for him to go to Ithaca College and then the Navy paid for medical school at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine, he said.

Serving in battle is part of what he agreed to, said Jadick. "If they asked me to go back, I would," he said. "It’s part of my job. I accepted all this with my eyes wide open. Ever since high school, I’ve made decisions without wearing rose-colored glasses."

He went on, "I’ve taken a lot from the taxpayers in this country and it’s my job to do what I signed up for....I’ve never looked for the free ride."

Asked how he felt about Americans who object to the war or about the rightness of the war, Jadick said, "I’m not politically minded either way. I’m fulfilling my contract...The military doesn’t get involved in politics. I’ve been over there and done my job."

Of coverage on the Iraq war, Jadick said, "I don’t think it’s always perceived correctly by the media...The Marines I was with in the middle of battle had the opportunity to loot," he said, or to do other unethical things. "They were disciplined. They did their jobs. They treated prisoners of war as they should.

"My unit had great leadership," Jadick concluded. "I was proud to serve with them."

Studio 85 opens in New Scotland

By Holly Grosch

NEW SCOTLAND — Two best friends worked from a new salon Monday afternoon clipping hair. Studio 85 has a posh name that goes along with both the renovations inside — textured flooring that looks and feels like rock — and the location.

Stonewell Plaza at the corner of routes 85 and 85A is now home to one of the only hair salons in town.

"Since I was a little girl, I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do," co-owner Annie Renaldo said.

Studio 85 currently has three hairstylists, all women who had previously worked with Renaldo at a salon in the Price Chopper Plaza in Slingerlands, Renaldo said.

Amanda Scalzo has been a hairstylist and waxer for four years. She and Renaldo are best friends so she jumped at the chance to work for her, Scalzo said.

At age 28, after seven years of being a licensed beautician, Renaldo opened Studio 85 with business partner, Vincenzio Federico. He owns two other barbershops in the Capital Region, Renaldo said, but this is her first.

It was a smart move, Scalzo said, because there are no other salons in this area outside of the village of Voorheesville.

Renaldo and Federico received a rare use variance from the town’s zoning board in October to permit their business. Under New Scotland’s existing zoning law, hair salons or other personal services are not listed as permitted uses in commercially-zoned property. Zoning administrator Paul Cantlin called it an oversight. But, as a result, the commercial corridor has not seen a hair salon in 12 years, and that one just happened to slip through the enforcement cracks, said Cantlin.

Scalzo said she has a lot of clients who live in Voorheesville so they have enjoyed her moving closer, and Stonewell is a great location for clients on their way home to Berne as well, she said.

Renaldo and Federico’s shop is smaller and more personal than places Scalzo has worked before, she said. The atmosphere is less industrial, and has a warmer feel, Scalzo said.

Scalzo and Renaldo have lived down the street from each other in Albany off Krumkill Road for many years. Renaldo went to Albany High School. Scalzo said she had never traveled this far out from Albany before now.

"People are friendly out here," she said. It’s a career she likes because of "all the people I talk to"And it’s not a sit down job," she said, explaining that hairstyling is a creative profession that allows for flexibility in hours.

"We are meeting a lot of new people," Renaldo said. Women walking by from Curves, a fitness center located next door, have been stopping in to take a look and say hello, Renaldo said.

The storefront had been vacant since it was home to Emma Cleary’s Café almost two years ago. Renaldo and Federico have had the space completely renovated with new lighting fixtures; six wooden hair-cutting stations; two shampoo stations; a lobby; two rooms for tanning, a service Renaldo plans to offer in the near future; a side room reserved for manicures and pedicures once business picks up and she secures employees for that; and a private room for waxing, which is already set up. Renaldo also plans to offer massage further down the line, she said.

As of Monday, Studio 85 has been open for a week, and is organizing a grand opening celebration in March. The salon is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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