Answering the call: Soldier returns to his Meadowbrook home after voluntarily extending third tour of duty in Iraq

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 7, 2006

For Dr. Robert Cosby, serving the U.S. in Iraq for only 90 days just wasn&8217;t enough.

The Meadowbrook resident arrived home from Iraq for the third time on Friday, after voluntarily extending his last duty an extra rotation. He said, &8220;Serving just 90 days didn&8217;t fulfill the service of my dad or others in World War II.&8221;

The family practitioner and full-time volunteer has been a member of the National Guard for over 20 years. He first served in Iraq in 1991 during the Gulf War, then went again for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and then served two more rotations in 2006.

Cosby&8217;s time in the National Guard has already earned him retirement rights, however he says, &8220;The reason you&8217;re in is to support the county in time of war.&8221;

Cosby&8217;s parents passed on to him a sense of duty and commitment to America. Both his mother and father worked for the government, and they met in Washington D.C., so to Cosby, &8220;Serving in the military feels like I&8217;m completing their wishes for me.&8221;

Still, Cosby said his decision to serve in Iraq again was difficult for him and his mother. &8220;I didn&8217;t want to go back a third time, but that was where they had a need,&8221; he said. He left her and his developmentally challenged brother in the care of family members and five sitters. &8220;Was it is her first choice for me, no,&8221; he said. &8220;Was it my duty, yes.&8221;

Three days after extending his deployment for the second rotation, his mother passed away. Cosby came home to an empty house. He stayed in the United States for three days to bury his mother, then returned to Iraq early, before the other doctor in his clinic left to go home and there was a gap in patient coverage.

Life in Iraq before and after his mother died was definitely &8220;roughing it&8221; according to Cosby, but he said during these rotations the people in his clinic were &8220;good and supportive.&8221;

His post as chief medical officer was in a troop medical clinic 100 miles south of Baghdad, at a convoy support center on a main supply route.

Much like urgent care facilities in the U.S., the clinic held sick call hours in the morning and took care of routine medical problems.

The most common illness Cosby saw was sinusitis, for though the weather is dry, it is dusty.

Fortunately, he said, &8220;The most common injury we had were ankle sprains from playing basketball.&8221;

According to Cosby, the clinic took care of 99 percent of cases, but when it couldn&8217;t a medivac helicopter was called in to fly patients to the hospital.

Years ago, Cosby stopped practicing medicine in an office setting in exchange for full-time volunteer work. Now at home, he will resume his work, with most of his energies focused on the Jesus video project he started over 10 years ago.

The videos portraying Jesus&8217; life and work are used as evangelism tools. They are sent to individuals, or churches and missionaries who in turn share the video with others.