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thedrifter
11-14-05, 07:53 AM
Corpsmen do whatever it takes
II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by Lance Cpl. Josh Cox

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Nov. 10, 2005) -- While sitting down for lunch in the chow hall here Nov. 3, corpsmen assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 8 Base Aid Station recognized Marines they treated in past combat situations. One corpsman pointed out an everyday Marine in line for chow who he had treated.

“I’ve already taken care of three guys on three different convoys where an improvised explosive device exploded,” said Seaman Apprentice Versean Taylor, a corpsman assigned to CLB-8 BAS, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (FWD). “I love taking care of my Marines; they take care of me and I take care of them. Some of them are like brothers.”

Several of the corpsmen had similar stories like Taylor’s. They were attached to a patrol or convoy, and provided immediate care to injured Marines in combat situations. These events took place in the first month of the corpsmen’s deployment alone.

Navy corpsmen have a massive responsibility resting on their shoulders, especially in a combat environment. Most of the corpsmen operating with the CLB-8 BAS are in their early 20’s; yet, they are responsible for frequently treating injured Marines, sometimes seriously wounded, in combat operations. The unit’s motto is ‘whatever it takes,’ and the corpsmen assigned with the BAS live by that statement.

“The corpsmen specifically provide convoy medical coverage, and sick call support,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Corrina O. Gardner, senior medical department representative, BAS, CLB-8, 2nd FSSG (FWD). “We go where the bulk of [CLB-8 Marines] go, and we keep them healthy.”

Gardner said the BAS provides morning sick-call on a daily basis, and is open around the clock for acute care.

“We are an echelon one medical facility,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen M. Ito, independent duty corpsman, BAS, CLB-8, 2nd MLG (FWD).

Ito said the BAS on camp is capable of administering immunizations and responding to minor injuries and illnesses. If the injury or illness is critical, the patient is usually taken to the closest echelon two or higher facility. Patients are transported by ambulances piloted by Marines who are assigned to the BAS.

In addition to convoys, morning sick-call and immunizations, the corpsmen conduct training on a daily basis.

“I learn a lot; I never stop learning,” said Seaman Vichien Mixay, corpsman, BAS, CLB-8, 2nd MLG (FWD).

Ito said the corpsmen are working to earn the Fleet Marine Force pin, a qualification that marks the crest of some Navy corpsmen’s careers.

The corpsmen said they believe their efforts in Operation Iraqi Freedom are making a difference.

“A definite benefit would be being able to treat the Marines,” said Gardner.

Gardner said another rewarding part of the job is when Marines visit the BAS and express gratitude to the corpsman for their efforts.

The corpsmen also face many challenges while on the job here.

Gardner said the fear of the unknown can be a challenge the corpsman must cope with while outside the wire.

The tough part about the job is “going out on the convoys, and not always knowing what is going to happen,” she said.

The leadership element of the BAS ensures the junior corpsmen are trained up on medical procedures, making the team more confident and prepared for ‘what ever it takes’ to save a life.

“Our unit doesn’t say the word no,” said Gardner. “Whatever it takes to get [care] to [Marines] or provide it for them, that’s what we do.”

Ellie