U.S. Soldier Helps Iraqi Boy Get Medical Treatment

By: CBS News (posted by Carissa Fox)
By: CBS News (posted by Carissa Fox)

(CBS News) NEW YORK - At least 46 people were killed Sunday in attacks throughout Iraq -- attacks against citizens at a coffee shop and a wedding party -- in attempts to destabilize the country. The war there brought suffering to Iraqi civilians for years and U.S. soldiers have stepped in to help. One of them is a U.S. captain who lent a hand to an Iraqi boy.

In 2009, Capt. Morrie Fanto was on a special mission in Iraq. He came across a little boy who had been badly injured by an IED.

"I was kind of shocked to see the extent of his injuries," he recalled.

His name is Wad and he needed a lot of medical attention.

"I didn't want to allow things to pass in and out of my life without trying to do something about it," Fanto explained.

While back at his base, Fanto decided to search the Internet for relief agencies and sent a letter to Elissa Montanti of Staten Island, New York. She runs a non-profit group called the Global Medical Relief Fund.

"Like many other requests I've gotten out of Iraq from the military, he had written if I can help this child," she said.

Asked about when she first saw Wad, Montanti said: "Wad was broken. Wad was missing an eye. His face was terribly scarred, missing an arm and missing a leg."

Now, she said, he's doing great.

Montanti's mission is to help children who had been injured in war and natural disasters. Wad is one of four boys living in New York getting medical treatment that is donated.

"He was restored with youth and dignity," she said. "He has that leg to play soccer, because that was what he was truly upset about when he had lost his leg."

A couple weeks before we met with Montanti, she received another email from Fanto.

"He said, 'Hi Elissa. I'm now working at the Pentagon. How's the charity doing? And by the way, how is Wad?'" she recalled. "I said, 'Oh my God, I would love to meet you personally.' He said, 'I'm going to make it happen.'"

Then it was time for Wad to see the person who had made it all possible. Both Fanto and Wad hugged each other. "It's good to see you," Fanto said to Wad. "Look at how big you've gotten."

"I was trying to calculate in my head how much older he would be and how much he would grow," Fanto told us. "He looks like the same kid. He has a good soul. It was great to see him."

During the visit, Wad said to Fanto: "Thank you...I'm so happy to see you. I love you so much."

"I ended up spending so much time in Iraq," Fanto told us. "There were some very difficult times and some really good times. I think Wad and my relationship -- that symbolizes some of the good things that came out of those ten years in Iraq. A lot of great people there. I wish for the best future for Iraq."
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