82nd dedicates medical center to fallen soldiers

Posted December 12, 2008 4:02 p.m. EST
Updated December 12, 2008 6:27 p.m. EST

— The 82nd Airborne Division dedicated a high-tech medical-training center Friday to a surgeon and medic killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit their clinic in Iraq in 2004.

Connor, the son of Lt. Col. Mark Taylor, cut the ribbon at the Taylor/Sandri Medical Training Center on Fort Bragg's campus.

The state-of-the-art facility will give 5,000 troops a year the virtual experience of treating patients during simulated combat accidents, using electronic monitoring systems and multiple cameras.

Taylor and Sgt. Matthew Sandri died when a rocket-propelled grenade hit their clinic at a base in Fallujah on March 20, 2004. They were members of the 3rd Brigade's medical company, preparing to return home from their deployment soon.

Taylor, a general surgeon, had stepped out to call his family, and Sandri, a combat medic, was outside smoking. The RPG landed right next to them. Medics from the 82nd Airborne labored to save the two men and seven others, who did survive.

At the dedication ceremony Friday, SSG Tracy Devault said she hoped that the new medical-training facility would help save lives of injured soldiers like Taylor – her former superior – and Sandri – whose squad she led.

"When you have to look the family of a fallen comrade in the eye – and I pray you never do – be able to say, 'We did all we could,'" Devault said.

Then, she looked at the families of Taylor and Sandri, who were in the audience, and said, "We did all we could."