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yellowwing
06-30-06, 08:36 AM
Corpsman earns Navy, Marine Corps Commendation Medal
By: JO3 Arianne Anderson 06/29/2006 (http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=16856391&BRD=1659&PAG=461&dept_id=8103&rfi=6)

There comes a point in many people's lives where they feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. For Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class(FMF) Luis Ruizpupo, that time is now.

Ruizpupo received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with combat distinguishing device) on June 21 and earlier this year he received his U.S. citizenship.

Born and raised in Columbia, South America, Ruizpupo moved to Elizabeth, N.J., at age 14; and joined the Navy at age 17 with permission from his parents.

"I wanted to expand my life," he said. "I wanted to see what the world was all about."

Ruizpupo got this wish; in 2004 he was sent to Iraq for nine months with the 3D Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division as their "Doc."

"I saw myself as one of them," he said. "I took part in the battles, I did everything they did, but I had some medical knowledge and could bandage them up."

Upon his first day in Iraq, Nov. 9, his fellow Corpsman was shot in the ankle and evacuated out from there. Ruizpupo solely cared for approximately 50 Marines during their missions and take over of Fallujah, Iraq.

"The experiences and emotions you feel out there don't compare to anything else. One time we were under heavy machine gun fire and from across the street I saw what looked like a Marine get shot in the face. Really it was a piece of concrete that ejected from the wall and made a hole in his nose, but at the time, with all the blood, I thought he was shot. When I ran over to provide medical assistance, he just looked up at me and asked, 'Am I still pretty?' It was then when I realized that to survive in combat you have to have a little of 'sick humor.'"

According to his award citation signed by the Commanding General I Marine Expeditionary Force Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, Ruizpupo crossed a six-lane highway under intense enemy fire in order to administer aid to five casualties, the first day he arrived in Iraq. "His expertise in the medical field saved the lives of four of the five casualties," he stated.

"I'm very honored to have received this award," said Ruizpupo. "I want to dedicate this medal to those Marines who weren't recognized and should have been, to all the corpsman in Iraq, and to all the men who have died out there, you'll never be forgotten."

Semper Fi Doc!