View Full Version : Navy Corpsman Awarded Silver Star for Heroism in Iraq

04-28-06, 09:47 AM
Navy Corpsman Awarded Silver Star for Heroism in Iraq
Story Number: NNS060427-16
Release Date: 4/27/2006 9:25:00 PM

By Bill W. Love, Naval Hospital Corpus Christi Public Affairs

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (NNS) -- Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Juan M. Rubio, 32, of San Angelo, Texas, was awarded the Silver Star Medal April 27 for conspicuous gallantry against the enemy Jan. 1, 2005, while serving as a Marine Platoon corpsman in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

The Silver Star Medal is the U.S. Navy’s third highest award for gallantry in combat, following the Navy Cross and the nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor.

Rear Adm. Thomas R. Cullison, commander, Navy Medicine East and commander, Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va., made the presentation in front of the Naval Hospital located aboard Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas.

During the ceremony, Cullison spoke about the bond that Navy Medicine, particularly Navy corpsmen, share with Marines.

“When we serve with the Marines and the Marines are with us, it’s a relationship that you can find nowhere else. The acceptance between these two groups is like no other,” emphasized Cullison. “The responsibility that we put on our young corpsmen in battle to perform and to save lives is incredible.”

Clarifying that point, Cullison compared the controlled environment that he and other surgeons work in with the help of many others.

“Young corpsmen who go to Field Medical Service School - usually straight out of high school - perform to save lives in combat, just as Petty Officer Rubio did, and they are amazing!” he said.

Representing the Commanding General, 1st Marine Division, Marine Maj. Gen. R. F. Natonski and Command Master Chief Kelvin Carter hand-carried the award to Texas from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and assisted Cullison with the presentation. He also brought a personal message with him for Rubio.

“I talked to all the Marines and Sailors in Iraq before I left, and those back in Camp Pendleton, and they want me to tell you, ‘good job, and outstanding job!’ They are damned proud of you," he said. "Please continue what you have done for our great nation, the Marine Corps and Navy team, and also for the Hospital Corps community.”

Rubio had already earned the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the Jan. 1, 2005, engagement while serving with 4th Platoon, Small Craft Company, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.

The citation accompanying his Silver Star Medal detailed how a well-emplaced and determined enemy ambushed Rubio and members of his team along the Euphrates River in a complex attack. As Rubio and an assault element swept through the ambush site, insurgents detonated an improvised explosive device. Rocket-propelled grenades and machine gun and small-arms fire followed immediately after the explosion, wounding three Marines.

Realizing the severity of the Marines’ wounds, and bleeding profusely from his own, Rubio low-crawled across open terrain, exposing himself to enemy fire to provide triage. Simultaneously taking care of three urgent surgical casualties, Rubio coached his fellow Marines who were assisting other casualties as incoming enemy fire intensified.

After stabilizing the wounded for casualty evacuation, Rubio directed the platoon to provide covering fire as he and several Marines began moving the casualties towards safety.

Without regard for his own life, he once again exposed himself to the heavy and accurate enemy fire, moving the Marines from the ambush site to the shoreline.

Rubio’s Silver Star Medal elevates him to a distinctively exceptional category of valor among Navy corpsmen since the commencement of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and OIF. Only two others have been awarded the Silver Star, none have received the Medal of Honor, and only one hero has been presented the Navy Cross.

Rubio does not consider himself a hero, though.

While addressing the audience, he revealed who he believes are the true heroes, mentioning his two sons by name and that of the mortally wounded Marine Lance Cpl. who shielded Rubio from 90 percent of the IED's shrapnel during the engagement.

“When people ask me what it is like to be looked upon as a hero, I don’t see myself as such, because Joshua and Mathew and every son and daughter who’s out there and who has family members in Iraq, they’re the heroes,” he acknowledged while fighting back emotion. “They’re the ones who sacrifice their fathers and their mothers. That takes honor, courage and bravery to go home every night and pray that their fathers and mothers come home safe.

"And Brian Parrillo, this is for you, brother," he said. "Thank you for bringing me home.”


05-02-06, 10:56 PM
Marines appreciate the Corpsman who take care of us in our time of need. An award well deserved. You may not think of yourself as a hero but the Marines whose lives you helped would definately believe you to be a hero. Thanks Doc

05-04-06, 07:12 AM
Sailor's Silver Star brings honor, pain

By Perry Flippin, editor emeritus, pflippin@sastandard times.com or 659-8217
May 4, 2006

Navy Petty Officer Juan M. Rubio insists he doesn't deserve the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for valor in combat.

''I was just doing what any other (medical) corpsman would have done,'' the 32-year-old graduate of Central High School told me last week. ''If the military feels that what I've done deserves a Silver Star, I have no room to tell the commander-in-chief, 'No.'

''It's an honor to receive it,'' he continued. ''With such great honor comes great pain.''

Only two other corpsmen have received the Silver Star in the past four years.

Surrounded by relatives, friends and comrades, the hospital corpsman 2nd class was honored in ceremonies April 27 at his current station, Naval Hospital Corpus Christi.

Navy Rear Adm. Thomas R. Cullison, commander of the National Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., pinned the medal on Rubio's uniform.

Relaxing last week at his father's home on Grape Creek Road, Rubio's shins bear 2-inch scars caused by shrapnel. Other shrapnel struck the back of his skull, and a bullet grazed his left shoulder.

His flak jacket stopped two rifle slugs that bruised his chest.

''We were on a routine patrol,'' he told me, describing his actions on Jan. 1, 2005. With five other crewmen aboard a light boat, they were sweeping both sides of the Euphrates River about 32 miles southwest of Baghdad.

''We got in a heavy ambush,'' he continued, recounting that Marines had discovered and destroyed five large caches of munitions in the same area only three days earlier.

As Rubio and three Marines moved ashore with two squads, a 5-gallon aluminum can exploded in front of them.

''I knew I was in the middle of explosions,'' he recalled, describing the sound of rocket-propelled grenades slamming into a nearby building as he regained consciousness.

Although wounded and bleeding, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Rubio crawled to each of his three comrades, carried them to safety and administered first aid. Meanwhile, Marines flanking the injured men laid down fierce crossfire while advancing to trap the insurgents in a pincer movement.

In vivid detail, Rubio described for me how he instructed other Marines to apply tourniquets and perform medical treatments. Then he directed covering fire so he could carry the injured men back to the boats.

A major lost his right arm. The radioman, Lance Cpl. Brian Parello, died after absorbing most of the explosive force from the aluminum can.

Rubio says Parello saved his life. A gunnery sergeant suffered two gunshot wounds in his left arm.

En route to the Marine base, insurgents opened fire on the boats, injuring a crewman, whom the corpsman treated.

Only later did a comrade notice Rubio's wounds and load him on the medevac helicopter.

In a letter recommending him for the Silver Star, Marine Maj. Gen. R.F. Natonski wrote, ''Your actions saved lives, and you have set an example for future corpsmen and Marines to emulate.''

Rubio told me he developed a love of taking care of people as a 17-year-old student working at Meadow Creek Nursing Home.

He later married and moved to Abilene but couldn't afford the cost of becoming a licensed vocational nurse. Today, his ex-wife and two sons, 10-year-old Joshua and 8-year-old Matthew, live in Abilene.

''I was 25 when I joined the military,'' he said. ''The military has helped me since the moment I've been in it. I tell everybody it's the best decision I ever made, careerwise.''

He was stationed in Bethesda, Md., on Sept. 11, 2001.

''I didn't know the Twin Towers got hit,'' he recalled. ''All I knew was the Pentagon was hit. We were called out to give aid. I was helping there for three days.''

Instead of taking time to rest, Rubio found himself aboard the hospital ship U.S.S. Comfort headed for ground zero. Because there were no survivors to save, the crew fed and housed rescuers in New York City.

That experience inspired Rubio to volunteer for combat duty with the Marines.

''I wanted to be in the front lines taking care of those Marines and making sure they're going home,'' he told me. ''I owe a lot to my Marines. I couldn't have done the things without them.''

Those hair-raising firefights from 2005 are as vivid as yesterday, Rubio said.

''It's going to be part of me for the rest of my life. I'll never forget the brotherhood that Marines have or the camaraderie that I built with my Marines.''

Silver Star

The Silver Star is the U.S. Armed Forces' third-highest award for valor.

The medal was established at the direction of President Woodrow Wilson as a ''citation star'' on Jan. 12, 1919. It is awarded to a person who, while serving with the U.S. Armed Forces, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the U.S. while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for award of the Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.