Local doctor heads to Iraq

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September 18, 2006

More than 160,000 US service men and women are in Iraq tonight, and they're about to be joined by one more.

Only this soldier has never fired a gun and hopes he never has to.

Tom Hattan may be joining the thousands of American men and women serving overseas...but he's definitely not your typical soldier.

"I've been in the Army seven years and some change, and I haven't fired a gun yet. I haven't fired a gun in my life," Dr. Hattan told News 12. "I'm a physician, and I'm hoping I won't have to in Iraq. But I'll be equipped with a weapon and I'll have to learn how to use it."

As an internist and geriatrician, Dr. Hattan's been caring for veterans and their family members at Fort Gordon's Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

But for the next six months, his home will be outside of Baghdad, treating soldiers and Iraqis.

"I want to get there, do the best job I can helping out Americans and Iraqis, and come home safe."

But he'll find a little bit of home where he's heading.

His post north of Baghdad, 5000 miles from home, was actually built by a buddy.

"That happened to be built in the first year of conflict, by my next door neighbor, Stan Stanley," Dr. Hattan told News 12. "My next door neighbor is a member of that team...and it's a source of great support and warmth for my family that he went over there and came home safe."

News 12 was there two years ago when Stan Stanley came home.

He was a member of the engineering battalion out of Augusta that built the American base.

All part of the American military family that will now help watch over Dr. Hattan's family back home.

"The hardest things are the things you can't control, and that's when you have to have faith," said Dr. Hattan's wife Emma.

Tom's not the first Hattan to serve. His father, Dick, served during the Korean War, his brothers both served in the Army, and his sister-in-law is a Persian Gulf veteran.