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St. Louis, MO - U.S. Army Nurse Chronicles Saddam Hussein's Human Side in New Book

Published on: September 14, 2009 02:37 PM
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An Army nurse from St. Louis chronicles Saddam Hussein's human side in this new book. St. Louis, MO - Five years ago Robert Ellis got tasked with the oddest assignment of his life: keep Saddam Hussein alive.

​Ellis, a 59-year-old surgical nurse at Barnes Jewish Hospital, had just arrived in Iraq for a tour with the U.S. Army. Now retired, Ellis was then a master sergeant reservist with the 301st Combat Support Hospital. He became Saddam’s nurse.

For eight months, Ellis visited Saddam twice a day, checking his vitals and forming a bond that left him conflicted. “My orders were to keep him alive and healthy,” Ellis tells Daily RFT. “By no means possible was he to die in U.S. custody. That was always on my mind. I was to do whatever it took to keep his spirits up and his blood pressure down, so he could go to the gallows a healthy man.

“I’m not in the habit of deceiving people, but that was my job. In the back of my mind I knew what was going to happen. That was a part of the conflict I experienced. We were going to all these great lengths to keep this man happy when we were going to kill him anyway.”


With assistance from former reporter Marianna Riley, Ellis tells all in a new book, Caring For Victor. (“Victor” was the military’s code name for the former dictator.)

Ellis was under strict orders not to engage in political discussions with the former Iraqi ruler, and says their interactions were friendly. Growing up in the rough Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis, says Ellis, helped him see Saddam’s human qualities. As Ellis puts it, “There are two sides to everybody.”

For one thing, Saddam was a neat freak who was allowed to keep cleaning supplies in his cell so he could keep the floor spic-and-span. He drank from a water bottle without letting it touch his mouth.

“And he liked to read,” explains Ellis. “He was a prolific writer. He liked children. He’d save food from his meals and feed the birds everyday. He had a garden—I initially thought it was a patch of weeds, but then I found out [an FBI agent] had given him seeds to plant—and he was always watering his plants. He said he’d always had a garden growing up.”

Ellis says he never saw much of Saddam’s ugly side. “Once he told me he didn’t take particular joy from the things he did. He just had to make difficult decisions at different times.”

After eight months, Saddam was transferred to another facility and out of Ellis’ care. The nurse remembers going to see Saddam at Camp Victory sometime later. “He kind of vented, because the way his cell was set up people could see him using the bathroom. He had been eating and he took one of his wet wipes and took half the food off his plate to give to me. We sat there and ate [in his cell]. Eventually the guards came to run me off. He turned to wash his hands, I tapped him on the shoulder and told him I had to go. I told him to take care of his self, he told me to take care of myself, and that was the last time I saw him.”

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Read Comments (16)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 14, 2009 at 01:52 PM whatever Says:

this guy is suffering from some form of stocholm syndrum.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 02:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
whatever Says:

this guy is suffering from some form of stocholm syndrum.

Do you even know what "Stockholm Syndrome" is?


 Sep 14, 2009 at 02:18 PM Anonymous Says:

G-d bless the U.S. army and the humane way they treat prisoners.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 02:06 PM Anonymous Says:

stockholm syndrome. the man hussein was a hardcore rasha


 Sep 14, 2009 at 02:33 PM Anonymous Says:

Here it comes... Now we'll hear about what a SAINT he really was.

“He liked children.”

“Are you kidding me? How about when he cut and shredded his prisoners to pieces? did he think about that individual’s children that they were forever to stay without a father?

This RUHLESS, VICIOUS BEAST will no doubt be turned into a soft hearted loving individual by this guy.

"Once he told me he didn't take particular joy from the things he did. He just had to make difficult decisions at different times."

I can't believe I’m actually reading this vile crap....He WAS FACED WITH DIFFICULT DECISIONS??? Like what? If he should treat someone like a human being or to treat them worse than you treat a rat which you’re experimenting on? May this beast rot in hell forever!!!


 Sep 14, 2009 at 02:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Even those who personify all that is evil can display some midos that are worthy of emulating. Agodos Hashas are replete with such stories. Sadaam ain't the first barbaric creep display traits that would be the pride of someone more human.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 02:52 PM Anonymous Says:

People behind bars always come to their senses what life is really about. Sadam was a pure maniac and nobody disputes that he was evil. Even liberals say he was evil. liberal only have a problem iwth Bush going into Iraq but never disputed what an evil person he was.

If hitelr was around these days they would make him into a saint.
Adolf Eichmann put on a nice show too. If you read about the capture of Eichmann you will see how the Mosad could not believe that the guy they had in their hands actually murdered million of people directly and indirectly.

The only thing i agree with the article is when it says "there are to sides to everyone." A very true statement.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 03:51 PM Yonason Says:

# 7 says "People behind bars always come to their senses what life is really about". He would never say such nonsense if he worked in a correctional system - I do. Too much shtuss is passed off as wisdom.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 04:54 PM Anonymous Says:

He liked children? I guess as long as they weren't Kurds.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 05:20 PM Anonymous Says:

People who get to the point of leadership like he did always have this quality. The ability to impress, draw in and create a liking with those they meet, even if briefly. It is how they wield their power. Hitler, Yimach Shmo, had it (he famously fooled Stalin into thinking he was trustworthy, and Stalin Yimach Shmo was hardly a soft hearted nurse. Stalin himself had that ability over people.

Monsters all, but it was precisely this trait that enabled them to be such monsters. They would have been pathetic nobodies without it.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 06:42 PM what human side? Says:

Anyone with a human side would not gas 25,000 Kurds!


 Sep 14, 2009 at 08:29 PM Anonymous Says:

He liked children- with ketchup and pickles on the side. Sometimes for dinner he'd have an adult on a bun with mustard and saurkraut


 Sep 14, 2009 at 08:05 PM Anonymous Says:

People are complex. Saddam could like children and at the same time order Kurdish villages to be gassed with the inevitable death of children. People who would never hurt an animal are all for the death penalty. The Nazi dictator was known for his love of dogs. Psychopathic killers can be known for their courtesy to their neighbors, who are astounded when they learn about their crimes. The mental trick of dehumanizing others so that they can be killed, while at the same time loving one's own friends and family, is very common.

Ellis saw only one side of Saddam, and it is hard to reconcile what you see directly with what you only hear. #10 is right - if Saddam had been a demented monster in his everyday life he would never have risen to be leader of his country.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 11:13 PM phsycologist Says:

People make different turns in life, some people at some point make too many wrong turns, then certain turns becomes a point of no return. Coupled with power it becomes necessary to escalate to levels unsustainable, like ponzi schemes then collapses in a heap of dust. Either dead or in a cell. At that point we are all mostly the same powerless to hurt anybody. In prison the focus can return to peaceful activities.


 Sep 14, 2009 at 11:37 PM Former STL'er Says:

Such an article doesn surprise me from the Riverfront Slimes. Their paper is muktza machmas mi'yus and thats during the week!


 Sep 15, 2009 at 01:11 AM Anonymous Says:

open your eyes people the nurse is retired right?this is how he will make money to support himself thats wat america is about the green dollar bill as the saying goes people will do anything for a buck


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