A corpsman with absolute dedication.

A corpsman with absolute dedication.

This is a discussion on A corpsman with absolute dedication. within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Brought this over from THR - no apologies for scarfing it - it is a good read. Makes us (I hope) all realize what our ...

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Thread: A corpsman with absolute dedication.

  1. #1
    VIP Member (Retired Staff) Array P95Carry's Avatar
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    A corpsman with absolute dedication.

    Brought this over from THR - no apologies for scarfing it - it is a good read. Makes us (I hope) all realize what our boys are all about and give some severe thanks.


    From the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/02/wo...&oref=slogin):

    Tending a Fallen Marine, With Skill, Prayer and Fury

    By C. J. CHIVERS

    Published: November 2, 2006

    KARMA, Iraq, Oct. 30 — Petty Officer Third Class Dustin E. Kirby clutched the injured marine’s empty helmet. His hands were coated in blood. Sweat ran down his face, which he was trying to keep straight but kept twisting into a snarl.

    He held up the helmet and flipped it, exposing the inside. It was lined with blood and splinters of bone.

    “The round hit him,” he said, pausing to point at a tiny hole that aligned roughly with a man’s temple. “Right here.”

    Petty Officer Kirby, 22, is a Navy corpsman, the trauma medic assigned to Second Mobile Assault Platoon of Weapons Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. Everyone calls him Doc. He had just finished treating a marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper.

    “It was 7.62 millimeter,” he continued. “Armor piercing.”

    He reached into his pocket and retrieved the bullet, which he had found. “The impact with the Kevlar stopped most of it,” he said. “But it tore through, hit his head, went through and came out.”

    He put the bullet in his breast pocket, to give to an intelligence team later. Sweat kept rolling off his face, mixed with tears. His voice was almost cracking, but he managed to control it and keep it deep. “When I got there, there wasn’t much I could do,” he said.

    Then he nodded. He seemed to be talking to himself. “I kept him breathing,” he said.

    He looked at Lance Cpl. Matias Tafoya, his driver, and raised his voice. It was almost a shout. “When I told you that I do not let people die on me, I meant it,” he said. “I meant it.”

    He scanned the Iraqi houses, perhaps 150 yards away, on the other side of a fetid green canal. Marines were all around, pressed to the ground, peering from behind machine-gun turrets or bracing against their armored vehicles, aiming rifles at where they thought the sniper was.

    The sniper had made a single shot just as the marines were leaving a rural settlement on the western edge of Karma, a city near Falluja in Anbar Province.

    The marines had been searching several houses on this side of the canal, where they found five Kalashnikov assault rifles and bomb components, and were getting back into their vehicles when everyone heard the shot. It was a single loud crack.

    No one was precisely sure where it had come from. Everyone knew precisely where it hit. It struck a marine who was peering out of the first vehicle’s gun turret. He collapsed.

    Petty Officer Kirby rushed to him and found him breathing. He bandaged the marine’s head as the vehicle lurched away. Soon he helped load the wounded marine into a helicopter, which touched down beside the convoy within 12 minutes of the shot.

    Once the helicopter lifted away, he ran back to his vehicle, ready to treat anyone else. He was thinking about the marine he had already treated.

    “If I had gone with him,” he said, and glanced to where the helicopter had flown away, over the line of date palms at the end of a field. His voice softened. “But I’m not with him,” he said.

    He turned, faced a reporter and spoke loudly again. “In situations and times like this, I am bound to start yelling and shouting furiously,” he said. “Don’t think I am losing my mind.”

    He held his bloody hands before his face, to examine them. They were shaking. He made fists so tight his veins bulged. His forearms started to bounce.

    “His name was Lance Cpl. Colin Smith,” he said. “He said a prayer today right before we came out, too.”

    “Every time before we go out, we say a prayer,” he said. “It is a prayer for serenity. It says a lot about things that do pertain to us in this kind of environment.”

    The only sounds were Doc’s voice and the vehicle’s engine thrumming.

    He recited the prayer. There was a few moments of silence. “It’s a platoon kind of thing, if you know what I mean,” he said.

    He listened to his radio headset and looked at Lance Corporal Tafoya, relaying word of the marines’ movements. “Right now the grunts are performing a hard hit on a house,” he said. He turned back to the subject of Lance Corporal Smith, 19.

    “The best news I can throw at anybody right now, and that I am throwing to myself as often as I can, is that his eyes were O.K.,” he said. “They were both responsive. And he was breathing. And he had a pulse.”

    He listened to his radio. “Two houses they’ve hit so far have both been swept and cleared.”

    He looked at the reporter beside him. “Do you pray?” he asked. “Do that. I’d appreciate it.”

    After a few minutes he started talking again. “You see, having a good platoon, one that you know real well, it’s both a gift and a curse. And Smith? Smith has been with me since I was...”

    He stopped. “He was my roommate before we left,” he said.

    He refilled his lungs and raised his voice. “His dad was his best friend,” he said. “He’s got the cutest little blond girlfriend, and she freaks out every time we call because she’s so happy to hear from him.”

    Before the attack, the marines were searching for weapons in houses in Karma, Anbar Province.

    He sat quietly again. A few minutes passed. “The first casualty we had here — his name was James Hirlston — he was his good friend.”

    “Hirlston got shot in the head, too,” he said.

    He said something about Iraqi snipers that could not be printed here.

    Then he was back to the subject of Lance Corporal Smith.

    “I really thank God that he was breathing when I got to him, because it means that I can do something with him,” he said. “It helps. People ask you, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing?’ It helps, because if he’s breathing, you’re doing something.”

    There had been many Iraqi civilians outside a few minutes before the sniper made his shot. Most of them had disappeared. Now an Iraqi woman walked calmly between the sniper and the marines, as if nothing had happened.

    She passed down the street.

    Petty Officer Kirby began to list the schools he had attended to be ready for this moment. Some he had paid for himself, he said, to be extra-prepared.

    In one course, an advanced trauma treatment program he had taken before deploying, he said, the instructors gave each corpsman an anesthetized pig.

    “The idea is to work with live tissue,” he said. “You get a pig and you keep it alive. And every time I did something to help him, they would wound him again. So you see what shock does, and what happens when more wounds are received by a wounded creature.”

    “My pig?” he said. “They shot him twice in the face with a 9-millimeter pistol, and then six times with an AK-47 and then twice with a 12-gauge shotgun. And then he was set on fire.”

    “I kept him alive for 15 hours,” he said. “That was my pig.”

    “That was my pig,” he said.

    He paused. “Smith is my friend.”

    He looked at his bloody hands. “You got some water?” he said. “I want some water. I just want to wash my wedding band.”

    He listened to the tactical radio. The platoon was sweeping houses but could not find the sniper.

    The company started to move. It stopped at another house. The marines were questioning five Iraqi men. Doc watched from the road, waiting for the next call.

    “I would like to say that I am a good man,” he said. “But seeing this now, what happened to Smith, I want to hurt people. You know what I mean?”

    The marines had not fired a shot.

    They took one of the men into custody, mounted their vehicles and drove back to Outpost Omar, their company base, passing knots of Iraqi civilians on the way. The civilians looked at them coldly.

    Inside the wire, First Lt. Scott R. Burlison, the company commander, gathered the group and told them that Lance Corporal Smith was alive and in surgery. He was critical, but stable. They hoped to fly him to Germany.

    Doc had scrubbed himself clean. A big marine stepped forward with a small Bible, and the platoon huddled. He began with Psalm 91, verses 5 and 11.

    “Thou shall not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day,” said the big marine, Lance Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

    Then he asked for the Lord to look after Lance Corporal Smith and whatever was ahead, and to take care of everyone who was still in the platoon.

    “Help us Lord,” he said. “We need your help. It’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”

    Doc stood in the corner, his arm looped over a marine. “Amen,” he said. There were some hugs, and then the marines and their Doc went back to their bunks and their guns.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."

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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array artz's Avatar
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    Thanks for the read Chris.... You can't help but tear up.
    God bless'em all....
    " Refuse to be a victim, make sure there is a round chambered ! "

    Just call me a pessimistic optimist !

    U.S. Navy vet 1981-1992

  3. #3
    Member Array BushidoMarine's Avatar
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    Excellent article. The only thing they forgot to mention is the fact that EVERY(!!) corpsman I met in the Fleet was just as dedicated to the Marines they were assigned to as this corpsman is!! Everyone of them would take a bullet to protect a Marine who's life they were trying to save. Major Gene Duncan, USMC(ret) in his book entitled "Green Side Out" described the 8404 (= Field Medical Service School trained) Corpsmen of the late 60's and early 70's as, "A long haired, bearded sailor who would go through the very gates of Hell to tend to a wounded Marine." Indeed. The Doc's have lost their beards, and most of the ones I served with kept their hair close to Marine regs; the level of dedication HAS NOT CHANGED ONE BIT.

    The Marine's Hymn says;
    "...if the Army and the Navy ever look on Heaven's scenes, they will find the streets are guarded by the United States Marines." This is 100% true of course , but the health of those Marines is being looked after by a U.S. Navy Corpsman!! Their place in heaven is secure...

    Semper Fidelis, Docs!
    Last edited by BushidoMarine; November 5th, 2006 at 08:29 AM.
    "An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it."
    - Col. Jeff Cooper, USMC

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array sgtD's Avatar
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    Once again, a story that really brings it home.

    When you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts & minds will follow. Semper Fi.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for bringing this over from THR, Chris... Excellent story.

    And, if you get a chance to see "Flags of Our Fathers" in the theater, the main character is a Navy Corpsman at Iwo Jima...it's an intense look at what they do in the field.
    "I surrounded 'em"- Alvin York

    "They're ain't many troubles that a man can't fix with seven hundred dollars and a thirty ought six"- Jeff Cooper

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Chris , thank you for shareing this , and i happen to know that cross posts from thr are normaly good stuff , i consider it a sister board since the standards are similar on both boards , and we have so many members in common .
    Make sure you get full value out of today , Do something worthwhile, because what you do today will cost you one day off the rest of your life .
    We only begin to understand folks after we stop and think .

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  7. #7
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    Excellent Chris...thanks for sharing.

    I've never worked with Corpsmen, but I worked a lot with Pararescue personnel and surgeons, medics and nurses assigned to the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Squadron during my OIF deployment....very dedicated folks too.

    God bless all of those folks that keep us healthy and patched-up.
    USAF: Loving Our Obscene Amenities Since 1947

  8. #8
    Senior Member Array cmidkiff's Avatar
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    It's guys like this that make me proud to be an American.

    Uncommon to see something about the war with a positive slant in the NYT!
    Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. It's worth it.

  9. #9
    Member Array osanmike's Avatar
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    Thanks Chris.
    "No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the Congress is in session."
    Mark Twain
    S&W M&P 40

  10. #10
    1943 - 2009
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    Thanks for posting this Chris. This is the kind of story that we would never hear or learn by listening to or reading the mainstream liberal media.

    Quote Originally Posted by Team American View Post
    Thanks for bringing this over from THR, Chris... Excellent story.

    And, if you get a chance to see "Flags of Our Fathers" in the theater, the main character is a Navy Corpsman at Iwo Jima...it's an intense look at what they do in the field.
    And may I recommend the book of the same title, by James Bradley, the son of the Iwo Navy Corpsman. Tremendous book, a must read!

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
    And go to your God like a soldier.

    Rudyard Kipling


  11. #11
    VIP Member Array PatrioticRick's Avatar
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  12. #12
    VIP Member Array Old Chief's Avatar
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    Thanks for the read and insight into a Navy Corpsman.
    When you accept mediocrity you sow the seeds for future failure.
    One should never confuse good fortune with good training.
    Illegitimus Non Carborundum. In God we trust.

  13. #13
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    Good read, thanks Chris.

    Medics of every service have always been a special breed, above and beyond the normal.

    EOD - Initial success or total failure

  14. #14
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    Thanks For Sharing...

    God Bless Our Troops...

    The last Blood Moon Tetrad for this millennium starts in April 2014 and ends in September 2015...according to NASA.

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  15. #15
    Member Array Greg Dunn's Avatar
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    Yep, it takes special people to be 8404, BTDT.

    Semper Fi,

    Doc -HM2 (FMF) 1989-1998
    Ranger Gunleather

    If light rails were needed on handguns John Browning would have included it on the 1911.

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