View Full Version : Corpsmen to the rescue

02-27-04, 09:46 AM
Corpsmen to the rescue

Lance Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre
and Pfc. Matthew K. Hacker
Combat Correspondents

Laughing and teasing each other about how they look, three corpsmen mentally stray from the seriousness their job continually impresses upon them.

The three corpsmen, Petty Officer 1st Class Richard C. Hampton, Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric J. Motz and Petty Officer 3rd Class Billy J. Fitzsimmons, all from 2d Transportation Support Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group, joked about the lack of garlic sauce for their pizza and talked about the mundane as they sat down for lunch.

But the light chatter quickly turned serious as they reminisced about coming across one mortally wounded and three critically injured Marines trapped under a loaded fuel tanker trailer during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It was April 14, less than a week since Baghdad had fallen into the hands of coalition troops. The scorching Iraqi sun was beating down on the men, and the mission was staying cool and hydrated.

The group of corpsmen had taken a break to eat chow when suddenly a sharp yell, calling for a corpsman, was heard.

“We heard this guy screaming for a doc, so we ran out,” Motz said with concern.
“I heard a guy screaming, ‘There’s a Marine pinned!’” Fitzsimmons added.

Under the blistering Iraqi sun, Hampton and Motz raced down to the accident scene, while Fitzsimmons went to grab the medical gear.
On the scene, they found a detached, but loaded, fuel tanker trailer collapsed on its supports. Four Marines were trapped under the trailer, three of whom were in critical condition. The fourth lay mortally wounded.

For some strange reason, the glare of the wedding band worn by the fatally wounded Marine, and the thought of the loss his family would endure was the first thought they had, said Hampton.
“That was the first thing that stuck out,” Fitzsimmons added.

With great risk to their own lives, the corpsmen crawled under the collapsed structure to aid the Marines.

They were so focused that Motz, concerned only with saving lives, pulled someone away not realizing it was his fellow corpsman, Hampton.
“I pulled Hampton out of the way,” Motz said chuckling later with Hampton about the confusing moment.

Hampton, being the senior ranking corpsmen at the scene, decisively directed the tasks at hand, all while working on his own Marine.
“It was controlled chaos with lots of stuff going on, but in the right way,” Hampton said, describing the situation.

As the corpsmen worked, diligently administering life-saving aid at the site, the danger presented by the collapsed trailer became more obvious as seconds and then minutes passed.

The summary of action report states the corpsmen remained with the injured Marines despite “repeated warnings” to exit, ignoring the risk of their own lives.

In attempts to free the Marines pinned by the tanker, two massive 25-ton cranes were brought in to lift the disabled trailer. The first attempt with the first crane was unsuccessful. Another attempt was made with the second crane; this one was successful.

According to the report, “the fail-safe load movement system alarms were activated on the cranes due to the extensive load and instability of the tanker.”

The alarms were going off as the corpsmen were working on the injured Marines. The crane operators had to override the operating system and manually control the crane, Hampton said.
The action proved successful as the Marines pinned under the massive tanker were freed.
Since the incident occurred, two of the injured have fully recovered and the third is in physical therapy.

“The biggest thing coming from all this is that the most critically injured is walking today,” Motz said.
Fitzsimmons and Motz received Navy Commendation Medals for their life-saving actions while risking their own lives. Hampton received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for coordinating aid to all of those injured and for personally administering aid to one of the Marines.

Hampton gives all the credit to his fellow corpsmen and believes they too were deserving of the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

“It is because of their direct action that these Marines survived,” Hampton somberly expressed.
These lifesavers understand their job and their purpose, as Hampton simply puts it, “We are here to save our Marines’ lives.”




Super Dave
02-27-04, 10:21 AM
God Bless the Doc's...