If you go

What: U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Jarrard talk

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Wingate by Wyndham hotel on CSU’s campus in North Charleston

Cost: Free

The lives of a Marine commander known for helping critically ill children in Iraq and a curious Charleston Southern University student will intersect Thursday when the Marine comes to campus to speak.

U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Jarrard, a Citadel graduate, was on routine patrol in Haditha in 2007 when he spotted little Amenah Thabit. The 2-year-old crawled across a floor, struggling to breathe, her fingers and lips turning blue.

The commanding officer thought of his own daughter, Rachel.

Amenah suffered from a rare heart defect. Without medical treatment, she would die.

While surgery to repair it would be easy enough in the U.S., it was impossible in Iraq at the time.

Among things Jarrard and his battalion set out to secure for the girl: flights, pass- ports, finances, Homeland Security visas, oxygen during a 14-hour flight, surgeons and medical facilities that would donate time and space, translators, female chaperones, post-surgery housing and culturally appropriate meals.

Amenah underwent open-heart surgery in 2008 at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. It saved her life.

The story, with its lessons in leadership, perseverance, faith and critical thinking, became a key story in the book, “Now You’re Thinking,” used in a CSU organizational management degree course.

As student Gerald Addison read the story last fall preparing for an assignment, however, his mind churned with questions unanswered in the text.

So, he tracked down Jarrard.

“I needed more insight into events and people. And most of all, I needed to know Kevin Jarrard better,” Addison recalls. “I realized there was probably more to be learned about the Marine who was so intent on helping a child survive in a place where he could not be sure he himself would survive.”

Jarrard responded. The student and Marine commander struck up a friendship, trading emails and phone calls during the eight-week course last year. Now, they will meet in person when Jarrard comes to campus.

He will speak at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wingate by Wyndham hotel on CSU’s campus in North Charleston. The public is welcome to attend.

Jarrard, a Bronze Star recipient, has been featured on the national news for his efforts to help Amenah and a young Iraqi boy, Ammar Muhammed, who came to the Lowcountry in 2008 to receive care and assistance from local residents.

Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.