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A whole new meaning to the phrase "giving the finger"
December 12, 2004 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Ring vs. finger...finger loses "When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned he'd either have to sacrifice his ring finger or the wedding band he wore, he told doctors at a field hospital in Iraq to cut off the finger." Incredibly romantic or incredibly retarded? You decide...
posted by echolalia67 (90 comments total)

 
retarded.
posted by H. Roark at 2:09 PM on December 12, 2004


...and yet they still lost the ring.
posted by still at 2:10 PM on December 12, 2004


And despite his stirring devotion, cruel fate would not be denied...
With his approval, doctors severed his finger, but somehow in the chaos that followed, they lost his ring.
posted by edverb at 2:11 PM on December 12, 2004


I just can't keep from laughing.
posted by c13 at 2:14 PM on December 12, 2004


I got the impression from the story that part of the finger was already lost or would be lost so perhaps it was an easy decision for him to make. Not having much material value in my own ring I certainly know what I'd choose. But to each his own.
posted by Qubit at 2:19 PM on December 12, 2004


ssss....gollum, gollum...preciousssss....
posted by stonerose at 2:19 PM on December 12, 2004


*slaps forehead*
posted by nola at 2:25 PM on December 12, 2004


...If I was his wife, I'd rather have a husband who could wear a new wedding ring on his saved finger than a piece of metal. (I might feel different if I was actually married, but I doubt it.)

It says he's only 19 years old though.
It definitely seems like the kind of stupid-brave decision that a 19 year-old boy would make.
posted by SoftRain at 2:26 PM on December 12, 2004


I'm going with retarded. If I were that guy's wife I'd beat him.
posted by Krrrlson at 2:26 PM on December 12, 2004


Yes, retarded.


A ring is not a matrimony, it' s not like he had to choose between his finger and his wife.
posted by sic at 2:26 PM on December 12, 2004


I give him the finger (sorry)
posted by faux ami at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2004


There's so many LOTR jokes in this I'm just going to avoid them all and pretend I'm not a big dork.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:29 PM on December 12, 2004


the best of the all-volunteer military.
posted by quonsar at 2:30 PM on December 12, 2004


Thanks for posting this. I read the story online earlier today and I just wondered about the PR machine that got this story out with such a spin. Though many of us may ridicule or feel bad for the soldier (like me) I wonder if the story reads as proof of the bravery of our fine men and thus, gosh, everything is all right over there.

In case you are highly inflammable, I didn't say that soldiers weren't brave, so settle down. And even if I did, there's a flavor of bravery being put forward here that is beyond what we might expect from people "in harm's way" yes?

Just seems like a scene from a 1940s b&w WWII film. Dogface spits out his cigar, thrusts his hand forward, narrows eyes to a brave slit, looks off-screen and growls "just make sure you save the ring. I've got a girl back home, see..."
posted by stevil at 2:33 PM on December 12, 2004


Ouch. I'm referring to quonsar's comment.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:35 PM on December 12, 2004


I know I shouldn't laugh, but I just can't stop myself.
posted by Bugbread at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2004


Heh, I've gone through about two wedding bands. When my RSI kicked in, I had to stop wearing one ring for about a year, before replacing it with a slightly larger size.

Makes me feel very glad that we prefer silver to gold.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:41 PM on December 12, 2004


If he really wanted to make a gesture, he would've sacrificed the whole hand.
posted by Captaintripps at 2:42 PM on December 12, 2004


I'm trying to think of some gift of the maji joke, really. Like she was off buying gloves for him or something.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:44 PM on December 12, 2004


How fucking stupid. How in the hell did they lose the ring?
posted by greasy_skillet at 2:45 PM on December 12, 2004


This is one of the dumbest things I've ever read.
posted by interrobang at 2:46 PM on December 12, 2004


Idiot. Reminds me of The Gold Watch.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:50 PM on December 12, 2004


I gather he was bound to lose some of the finger anyway, and knew it.
posted by uosuaq at 2:53 PM on December 12, 2004


So, the lesson here is stupidity breeds stupidity?
posted by Eekacat at 2:58 PM on December 12, 2004


He sacrificed a finger for a romantic gesture. Perhaps it wasn't the most logical move, but it also doesn't make him an idiot. Plus, it was only a ring finger. What can't he do now, touch typing?
posted by Doug at 3:00 PM on December 12, 2004


Alternate Headline:
Pvt. Hugo Jones, Surgeon's Assistant, buys case of beer for his bunkmates
..."I thought how hard me and my bunk-mates have had it, living hand-to-mouth and all, so when I found the money, I figured I'd buy us all some beer." said Hugo. He said he found the money, totalling roughly 500 dollars on the way back to camp from Honest Faquad's Pawn Shop.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:03 PM on December 12, 2004


Yeah, I mean, the kid might be dopey in a romantic way, but the doctors who lost a ring despite knowing a 19 year old boy sacrificed his finger for it? Those guys are the real assholes.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:06 PM on December 12, 2004


This is like some demented Gift of the Magi.

Next thing you know the guy will buy his girlfriend some shoes, only to find out that she cut her leg off.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:07 PM on December 12, 2004


Here's what I'm thinking really occurred.

Doctor: I'm sorry, son. Your hand is mangled, and you must choose whether to loose a finger or your wedding ring.

Soldier: WTF? Yeah, loose the finger, man.

Doctor: Wow! You are truly a dedicated fellow.

Soldier: SIKE!

Doctor: What?

::: Anesthetic kicks in :::
posted by Tullius at 3:08 PM on December 12, 2004


I'm going with retarded. If I were that guy's wife I'd beat him.

Sometimes it's nice to see somebody I can so easily feel so much smarter than.
posted by davy at 3:08 PM on December 12, 2004


robocop...

I can't figure out which is more funny, the actual story or your alternative headline. But I will go with the actual story since its real.
posted by gagglezoomer at 3:08 PM on December 12, 2004


He sacrificed a finger for a romantic gesture. Perhaps it wasn't the most logical move, but it also doesn't make him an idiot. Plus, it was only a ring finger. What can't he do now, touch typing?

Ahem, let's see.

He can't play the saxophone.

He cannot play the flute.

He cannot hold and Angle sword.

He therefore is a Jute.
posted by Captaintripps at 3:13 PM on December 12, 2004


What can't he do now, touch typing?

He can't wear a replacement ring. That's why he's an idiot.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:15 PM on December 12, 2004


Yet another idiot who doesn't understand what a symbol is.

I'll bet he's for a flag-burning amendment, too.
posted by rushmc at 3:18 PM on December 12, 2004


Really, really stupid.
posted by rafter at 3:20 PM on December 12, 2004


I'm going with retarded. If I were that guy's wife I'd beat him.

Sometimes it's nice to see somebody I can so easily feel so much smarter than.


Hell, even his wife says she was angry at first.
posted by Bugbread at 3:23 PM on December 12, 2004


Please don't address the guy as a retard : people with mental problems are usually sensible and in dire need of help, as the guy that just had his finger cutted because of a piece of metal.I mean seriously, really in need of help.

I wonder if and how the doctors sent him galloping to a psycologist.
posted by elpapacito at 3:23 PM on December 12, 2004


"We need to make more David Battles,''
posted by stbalbach at 3:25 PM on December 12, 2004


I agree... Stupidity...

I wear my ring on a 1/3 partial amputated finger. (Table Saw)

I was showing this article to my wife, and she called stupidity, too..
The ring can be replaced, or fixed. but you'll always have trouble counting out change...
posted by Balisong at 3:25 PM on December 12, 2004


dumb, not smart, silly, yeah, stupid.
posted by kamylyon at 3:27 PM on December 12, 2004


To be fair to Mr. Marine, we here don't know what the choices really were. If the choice were between no finger and a useless one-knuckle finger that you can't do anything with anyway, or if cutting the ring only bought you a 5% chance at a useful finger after months of painful rehab, that makes it easier to choose the ring.

On the other hand, if the choice was between a munged-up but useful finger and no finger, he chose unwisely.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:27 PM on December 12, 2004


I will go with the actual story since its real.

Really? Were you there?
posted by dash_slot- at 3:29 PM on December 12, 2004


What can't he do now, touch typing?

He can't wear a replacement ring. That's why he's an idiot.

That about sums it up. If the hunk of metal is so important, have it melted down & recast as a new ring.
posted by ksmith at 3:33 PM on December 12, 2004


I'd make a joke here about what additional things he could have done to his wife if he kept the extra finger, but I reached my daily perversion cap early this afternoon.
posted by ed at 3:34 PM on December 12, 2004


Really? Were you there?

Yes, I witnessed the entire incident.
posted by gagglezoomer at 3:35 PM on December 12, 2004


``We need to make more David Battles,'' said Daniel Pierce, the school's assistant head coach. ``He is one amazing guy.''

I guess they haven't told him where they really fucked up with the amputation yet.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:36 PM on December 12, 2004


Give the kid a break.

He was a 19-year-old who married the girl he'd dated since 8th grade.

Easy to scoff at, but she really is the love of his life. So he's invested in the symbol of the ring. And it looks like the actual choice was, lose the ring and part of the finger, or lose the whole finger and keep the ring. He chose the ring over a fraction of finger.

My question is: Why did the Guardian run this story? Was it a "let's laugh at the idiot hillbilly American soldier" piece?
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:36 PM on December 12, 2004


The ring was lost when the doctors cast it into the fires of Mt. Doom.
posted by Vulpyne at 3:43 PM on December 12, 2004


And what was he planning to do afterwards? Hang the ring around his neck Frodo-style as an eternal reminder of how he gave up the ability to wear it?

Sounds to me he was in shock and made a very poor choice that the doctor probably shouldn't have listened to. (of course, I'd feel bad for the doctor in having to make such a decision)
posted by InnocentBystander at 3:52 PM on December 12, 2004


Oh I forgot that's important, send the coach to meet a shrink real fast soon ! Also, fire him from the place before he turns perfectly normal people into people evaluating a piece of metal more important then a finger ; hey school assistant head coach whatever, why don't you go to war by the way ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:06 PM on December 12, 2004


What can't he do now, touch typing?
To me that is a serious loss. First off, I'm left handed, secondly, 57% of typing is performed by the left hand. On the other hand (no pun intended), given that the ring finger is responsible for the [s], [w], [x], [2], and [@], and [s] is the only high frequency letter (in English, anyway) this shouldn't be too much of a problem. Guy is lucky he didn't lose his left middle finger.
posted by Grod at 4:13 PM on December 12, 2004


vulpyine outrunned me as just noticed in another article that the ring was lost !! That adds insult to injury.
posted by elpapacito at 4:20 PM on December 12, 2004


All his Google searches for "sex" will turn out as google searches for "e".
posted by Bugbread at 4:23 PM on December 12, 2004


I had my wedding ring cut off when my finger swelled up due to an allergic reaction. The ring was easily repaired and looked exactly the same. Any doctor would know that.

I'm wondering whether the story is apocryphal. It's too pat.
posted by Peach at 4:36 PM on December 12, 2004


I wonder if he now gets go come home instead of recovering in Germany and then going back to duty.
posted by reflecked at 4:42 PM on December 12, 2004


Has to be military version of Urban Tale. Even Titanium can be cut.
posted by Ranger03 at 4:46 PM on December 12, 2004


typo fix: I wonder if he now gets TO GO HOME.

Sometimes preview doesn't help (especially if you don't really look closely).

It could be an apocryphal tale, but rings can be smashed into tissue and bone in a way that all appear melded. I'm still of the mind that, if the story is true, this guy thought "oh boy.. going home for sure!"
posted by reflecked at 5:01 PM on December 12, 2004


I would have thought a former football player would be smart enough to take a ring off and wear it on a chain on his neck before going into combat.

The odds of bruised or swollen hands in combat seem pretty high to me...but then I am not a soldier..

I wonder if he now gets TO GO HOME.

He is recovering at his parents' house according to the article.

Battle, who is recovering at his parents' home in this desert city 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles,
posted by srboisvert at 5:06 PM on December 12, 2004


Great - now he can't count to 20 unless he's naked. And, he has to wear his ring on a different finger...if they ever find it again.

Simply put, dumb as a bag of hammers.
posted by FormlessOne at 5:12 PM on December 12, 2004


I think some people are missing the point that he can in fact wear a ring on his ring finger. On the other hand, mind you. Nothing wrong with that.

I broke my left ring finger when I was 7, and it healed with a big knob, so when I was married, I wore my ring on the right hand.
posted by beth at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2004


Maybe he's got a pyscho wife like this guy and was afraid she'd leave him.
posted by Mitheral at 5:17 PM on December 12, 2004


Does anyone know if the army pays any kind of "life and limb" sort of insurance payment (can you even get private insurance if you're in the military?)? People down on their luck who work in heavy industry can just calculate how much money they need and put that many of their least favorite fingers in the punch press.
I don't think a civilian doctor would have even considered asking which he would like to keep.
posted by 445supermag at 5:29 PM on December 12, 2004


``We need to make more David Battles,'' said Daniel Pierce, the school's assistant head coach. ``He is one amazing guy.''

Amazing becase he was stupid enough to join the Marines, or idiotic enough to then leave home, and his loving wife, to be part of the Iraq Conflict?

Though, I do fully respect him for choosing the ring over the finger.
posted by potuncle at 5:44 PM on December 12, 2004


Dumb, romantic and a possible way to get home. Come to think of it, that was pretty smart.

Lose finger=Look like a badass=Wife may find it amazingly romantic=get sent home=have some awesome toe curling sex.
posted by Keyser Soze at 6:00 PM on December 12, 2004


ooh-rah!
posted by geekyguy at 6:06 PM on December 12, 2004


Simply put, dumb as a bag of hammers.

Yup. totally.
posted by amberglow at 6:42 PM on December 12, 2004


This strikes me as BS. What doctor would give someone that decision to make? Any doctors out there who think this is breaking the Hippocratic oath or somthing?

Seems like a PR piece, the real story is probably that somebody just fucked up.
posted by zardoz at 6:44 PM on December 12, 2004


keyser: he gets a purple hearth, some time at home for sure..but doubt the lack of a ring finger will impair his trigger pulling ability..maybe he can claim inability to aim accurately after the loss.
posted by elpapacito at 6:57 PM on December 12, 2004


I'm with CunningLinguist...it's not a decision that I would have made (probably), but the fact that the doctors lost the ring is the real tragedy. Yes, she would have rather he kept the finger, etc. etc. but he was a soldier at war, and his wife at home, and his connection to her, was probably necessarily more important in his mind than his finger.
posted by bingo at 7:05 PM on December 12, 2004


can you even get private insurance if you're in the military?

Yes.

This doesn't make sense for the same reasons brought before. . . the doctor wouldn't allow that decision to be made.

"Sir we can get you unstuck from the bathtub if either you lose weight or we cut off a leg."
"Cut it off. . . "
posted by Lord Chancellor at 7:47 PM on December 12, 2004


"You can have my wedding ring when you pry it off my cold dead finger!"

"Okay."
posted by raaka at 8:00 PM on December 12, 2004


Amazing becase he was stupid enough to join the Marines, or idiotic enough to then leave home, and his loving wife, to be part of the Iraq Conflict?

potuncle, call him stupid for cutting off his finger... but stupid for joining the Marines? The Marines don't need stupid people. As for being idiotic for leaving home for Iraq, it's not a question of idiocy. If you're called, and you don't show up, they will either compel you to come, or imprison you. I don't think it takes an idiot to weigh the options and choose to report when ordered.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:26 PM on December 12, 2004


He may feel pretty stupid if & when he gets a divorce.

(19yo...married childhood sweetheart...what odds the marriage will last more than 5 years?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:33 PM on December 12, 2004


I am surprised the surgeons are asking E-3 marines about preferences.
Playing GI Joe with a metal band around a digit is asking to lose the finger anyway. Ouch. I cannot imagine the VA compensating for loss of digit.
How the ring was lost is just another headshakingly dim occurance of where the quality of training meets the equivalent outcome in reality.
posted by buzzman at 10:59 PM on December 12, 2004


you guys are the most cynical bunch of bastards i've ever had the pleasure of reading. the kid is happy. the wife is happy. but that don't matter 'cause you're right.
posted by filthy five dolla n00b at 11:17 PM on December 12, 2004


retarded or not, there's no denying this story's a shocker.
posted by madprops at 12:12 AM on December 13, 2004


I call PR bullshit. If anything, there was some doubt about whether to cut a little bit up or down, and the military's PR have seized on it as a conveniently sappy "human interest" story to feed the press corps. Isn't it a weird coincidence that this has been reported right after Rumsfeld got into trouble?
So, call me a cynical bastard, but not nearly as cynical as the people running the show.
Oh, and bugmuncher:
The Marines don't need stupid people. As for being idiotic for leaving home for Iraq, it's not a question of idiocy. If you're called, and you don't show up, they will either compel you to come, or imprison you.
To put yourself in a position where you may be have to choose between Iraq or prison definitely sounds somewhat intellectually challenged to me. So I don't think I agree with your first sentence. Right now, the Marines do need really stupid people.
posted by Skeptic at 1:27 AM on December 13, 2004


My question is: Why did the Guardian run this story? Was it a "let's laugh at the idiot hillbilly American soldier" piece?

Is there ever a better reason?
posted by biffa at 2:53 AM on December 13, 2004


i don't see what the big deal is ... he can still flip all of you smartasses off, can't he?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:19 AM on December 13, 2004


I cannot imagine the VA compensating for loss of digit.

There was a link here or on MoFi a week or so ago that said it would be a 10% disability, IIRC, but I can't find it now.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:46 AM on December 13, 2004


You know, I was willing to give the loss of the ring a pass, thinking the decision was made in Iraq, where chaos might reign, or a Halliburton employee would steal it off the severed finger, but since it was lost in CA, I think the doctor deserves a good smack on the head.

If not for asking the soldier the question in the first place, (medics don't ask whether you would rather keep your clothes if they need access to your skin; and the ring can be reforged (as was commented earlier)), then for losing it after the soldier makes such an obviously sentimental choice.

And fuck every judgemental asshole who piles on the 'stupid' connotations. This guy was already wounded in both legs as well. I suppose you always had the best judgement at 19?
posted by Busithoth at 9:13 AM on December 13, 2004


Hell, even his wife says she was angry at first.
--
I was showing this article to my wife, and she called stupidity, too..

Wow, really? Even some women think fingers are more important than rings? You mean maybe not every wife is a materialistic bitch who values metal over their husband's hand? Astounding...

I love you guys, but... wow.
posted by heatherann at 9:34 AM on December 13, 2004


This is absolutely breaking the Hippocratic Oath in my opinion, or something similar. I call bullshit on this whole story, or else there's something key that we're not being told.

There is no fucking way that I as a (future) doctor could ask a patient's permission to do him/her harm unless there was a greater benefit to be gained. Cut off a finger to save a hand (ie, if the finger is gangrenous)? Sure. Cut off a finger to save an inanimate object that has no impact on the patient's immediate health? No way. Sure, losing the ring is negative to the patient's emotional and psychological health, but in this case (as in most, frankly) biological health trumps all.

Ultimately, the patient's permission is meaningless if what they want is objectively harmful to them. This is the fundamental basis for anti-euthanasia laws. You can't ask for permission to harm, only permission to benefit via treatment. The patient certainly has a right to refuse beneficial treatment, but that's a totally different ethical pie to cut into, so to speak.
posted by thelaze at 10:38 AM on December 13, 2004


You know, I was willing to give the loss of the ring a pass, thinking the decision was made in Iraq, where chaos might reign, or a Halliburton employee would steal it off the severed finger, but since it was lost in CA, I think the doctor deserves a good smack on the head.

From the first paragraph of the article:

When Marine Lance Cpl. David Battle learned he'd either have to sacrifice his ring finger or the wedding band he wore, he told doctors at a field hospital in Iraq to cut off the finger.

posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:54 AM on December 13, 2004


Bastards!

It's really a matter of physics...
posted by Busithoth at 11:10 AM on December 13, 2004


One could be famous for dumber things. Must have been the anesthesia.
posted by frombirthtodeath at 11:54 AM on December 13, 2004


Sorry for ">this godawful link, it is not safe for the lighthearted. But Buzzman, you will see that this Marine is still wearing his ring.

I would have made a different choice than the young corpsman that chose the ring over his finger (and got neither), but I would also be willing to bet that almost all married Marines (or most anyone that puts their life on the line, Firemen, Policemen, etc.) do their jobs with their rings on. Seems to me that these married men are more devoted to their wives than worried about the risk of damage to a digit caused by a freak hit to their ring finger. Oh, and this sort of freak finger injury is not limited to our fighting men in uniform.
posted by stonesy at 1:57 PM on December 13, 2004


Sorry folks, I blame my fingers. But THIS is the not for the sqeamish link.
posted by stonesy at 1:59 PM on December 13, 2004


Why did the Guardian run this story? Was it a "let's laugh at the idiot hillbilly American soldier" piece?

See the 'AP' in brackets on the linked page? Guess what that means? Looks like the story ran as a 'human interest' piece in the local press and got picked up on the wires.

My gut tells me that the story, as reported, smacks of a post-hoc justification for something we're not being told. There's no independent corroboration in the local reporting, just the word of Lance Cpl. Battle. Which is sort of what you expect from local journos. But you'd think that someone from the AP might at least have tried to track down someone at the field hospital, simply for context and background.

So put me in the sceptical camp until we hear from the surgeon. Not that I don't have tremendous sympathy for the Marine (photos here). But the way this story's being told, it actually impugns the medical ethics of the people who treated him, and that's not right either.
posted by riviera at 4:12 PM on December 13, 2004


Riviera: Yes, I realized it was an AP story. But the Guardian made an editorial decision in picking it up.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2004


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