Iraq War physicians reunite in Bismarck
BISMARCK (AP) — Two physicians, one American and one Iraqi, reunited in Bismarck after forging a bond while working together during the Iraq War.
Dr. Craig Lambrecht was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006. He served as the senior medical officer and a field surgeon for a troop medical clinic in Iraq, where he met Dr. Firas Egal. Egal worked with the U.S. Army translating for patients and providing medical support.
The last time Lambrecht and Egal saw each other was in 2005 at a military base in Iraq called Scania, which was located about 80 miles south of Baghdad.
Outside the walls of Scania, the two worked at a makeshift clinic inside a shipping container for children suffering from burns. Lambrecht said the clinic saw between 700 and 800 children from Iraq, Iran and parts of Syria each month.
After serving as an important resource for American troops, Egal fled to the United States for safety. Many Iraqi doctors known to have helped Americans were often at risk during the war. A translator told Egal that Egal’s name was at the top of a local militia’s hit list in 2007. He left Iraq that same year.
Egal applied for asylum, and became an American citizen in 2014.
Egal and Lambrecht have recently connected in Bismarck, as Egal applies for medical residencies, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
Egal has finished a series of tests to become a licensed physician in the U.S. He’s applying for a medical residency program through the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, which offers opportunities in Bismarck, Minot and Fargo.
Lambrecht is now executive vice president for Sanford Health in Bismarck.
“When I knew Firas had passed his last exam to be eligible for training, I just said, ‘We’ve got to get you to North Dakota,'” said Lambrecht.
“I want him here. I owe him,” Lambrecht said.
“Oh, no, actually, the whole country of Iraq owes you,” Egal replied.