“I pray for the best for the Iraqi children…I can’t tell the difference between their kids and our kids. The Iraqi parents have the same care and compassion for their children as any American.” -Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt
This picture, taken in 2006, shows then Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt, superintendent of the 22nd Wing Medical Group at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, holding an injured Iraqi girl.
The Iraqi child’s parents and siblings were killed by insurgents during the same incident when she was shot in the head, but she survived.
Having all of her immediate family killed, she often laid alone in recovery at the Balad Air Base. Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt soon found he was sometimes the only person who could soothe the little girl. He spent several days holding her in a chair while they both slept. One night, a nurse decided to snap a photo of the two together while they slept, and the moving photo soon went viral on the internet.
“I got as much enjoyment out of it as the baby did,” he said. “I reflected on my own family and life and thought about how lucky I have been.” -Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt
The little girl was eventually released to a living relative with whom the staff made contact, and Chief Master Sgt. John Gebhardt finished up his tour and returned back to his wife and children in Wichita, Kansas.