View Full Version : Cape hospital corpsman saves Marine

08-10-07, 12:39 PM
Cape hospital corpsman saves Marine
By Amanda Lehmert
August 10, 2007

FALMOUTH — If there was even a hint Navy Hospital Corpsman Michael Cardoza might be moved to another squad, Marine Sgt. Brian Smith fought to keep him among his men as they battled back the insurgency and looked for improvised explosive devices on the outskirts of war-torn Fallujah, Iraq.

"I knew that somewhere along the line, I would need him," Smith said of Cardoza yesterday in a phone interview from his home in Maine.

That moment came in a flash during a terrifying summer night a year ago.

Cardoza, a Bourne native, was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. He was serving with Smith and other Marines fighting to keep a supply route to Fallujah open and safe.

The Marines called the dusty strip of dilapidated roadway IED Alley. "This was our job — to keep that road open and keep it clear of as many IEDs as we could find," Cardoza said.

One night last August, Smith's squad was traveling west of Fallujah to familiarize themselves with a nearby medical evacuation site. On the way back to their base, Smith's humvee was rocked violently by an explosive device.

At first, Smith thought his arm was gone. The gravely injured Marine soon realized his arm was still attached to his body, but blood was spurting from a severed artery.

Smith called for help and checked on his men, one of whom had suffered a head injury. Then he kicked open the humvee's damaged door.

Cardoza, who had been riding in another humvee in the convoy, was among the first men in the squad to come to Smith's aid. "He was right up there with me asking what was wrong," Smith recalled.

Cardoza knew he had to act quickly to save his comrade's life. "He was bleeding out," Cardoza said yesterday.

With a tourniquet, expert administration of blood-clotting medicine and a harrowing ride to the hospital, Smith's arm was saved.

Cardoza's actions to help save Smith's severely wounded arm earned the Falmouth resident the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device. The combat honor was authorized in recognition of Cardoza's valor in the incident.

The medal was presented to Cardoza last week.

Cardoza joined the Navy in 1997. He worked in Navy medical facilities as a corpsman, learning skills similar to an emergency medical technician.

During his two tours of duty in Iraq, he worked among the Marines. "If nobody is hurt and everything is going smooth, you can operate as part of the team," he said.

He also treated Iraqis at community clinics and on the battlefield.

Cardoza will leave the Navy at the end of the year. He hopes to become an EMT for Falmouth, where he and wife, Laureen, are raising their 8-month-old son, Aiden.

Amanda Lehmert can be reached at alehmert@capecodonline.com.


Doc Palmer
08-10-07, 01:25 PM
Another incredible example for other FMF Corpsman to follow. Semper Fi Doc