American Valor Quarterly Issue 3 - Summer 2008 - Page 25

I had been taking care of these patients for about ten or fifteen minutes when they called me over the intercom and said that number 206 had been hit. I ran north about two hundred to two hundred and fifty yards with my medical bag. I couldn’t find number 206, but I stopped and helped out some other grunt corpsmen who were attached to the infantry unit. We set up a collection point to help them medevac their casualties. We lost eighteen Marines that day. Fifteen others were wounded and had to leave the battlefield. Ten others were wounded slightly and didn’t have to leave the battlefield. That had to have been one of the worst days of the war. AMERICAN VALOR QUARTERLY - Summer 2008 - 25 Top: U.S. Navy Photo Bottom: NAL Hardcover The one thing that surprised me, and it surprises just about everyone, was that I weighed 150 pounds at the time. I’m five feet five and I carried a two-hundred-pound Marine on my back, I kept running another two hundred yards, trying to find 206, but plus all of my equipment and my medical gear. I was also surprised I still couldn’t find it. I ran into the commanding officer for Charlie by how much knowledge and training I retained. I was able to Company, and I said, “Hey sir, I got word that 206 had been hit make split-second decisions. but I can’t find it. Do you have any word on that? He told me, “Doc, I believe that Honestly, I thought I was going to die. I is a message in error so go back to your knew there was a bullet with my name on amtrac. You’re doing a great job and keep it. I thought, “I’m going to do my job up the good work.” “Roger that, sir,” I until I get hit.” I needed to save my boys. said and went back to my amtrac. I needed to take them back home. I was running up and down looking for number I stood outside of my amtrac, taking a 206 for an hour or an hour and a half, pee. The crazy things a person does. I don’t just coming up on wounded and, want to say that I was shell-shocked but I unfortunately, deceased Marines. I didn’t didn’t really grasp the enormity of what think I was going to make it out of this was going on. I heard everyone shouting, alive. But it wasn’t an overwhelming “Doc, get back inside,” and I said, “Hold feeling. I would honestly say it was more on, I’ve got to finish peeing.” As soon as of a calming feeling, like “I can’t believe I got back inside and closed the hatch, a this is where I’m going to die.” But then mortar round landed on our amtrac. We I’d hear Marines crying in pain and think, took two more hits, another one on the “I may die but these guys need me right right side and one on the top. Then an now.” I was doing my job, which is not RPG struck the front, blowing out our to think about my safety but to think about transmission and disabling our vehicle. the safety of my Marines. I wish I could Luis Fonseca Jr. after being presented the Navy have done more. Cross - the first corpsman to receive the award At that time, I decided to take the casualties since Vietnam. out of my now-disabled vehicle and get Because I was in the Navy and was them somewhere safer. We opened up the hatch and moved four assigned to a Marine unit, I felt like an outsider at first. They had patients to another amtrac. The fifth Marine I personally fireman- earned the title United States Marine, and I hadn’t. I had to prove carried over open ground under intense machine-gun and rocket myself, that I could hang with them, do PT with them, hump fire. I made it to a ditch, and he and I hung out there for a while. with them. One of the greatest honors, believe it or not, is hearing my Marines tell me, “Doc, regardless of what branch of the This was the sixth hour of the firefight. We were in the ditch for service you’re in, you are a Marine in our eyes.” Marines are some about ten minutes. Sometimes it feels like we were there two of the best people I’ve ever met. Guys trust me now. hours. The badly wounded Marine was one of the guys who had “Shock Medicine” by Luis Fonseca, Jr. is excerpted a lower leg amputation. I kept monitoring him and he was doing from HEROES AMONG US, edited by Chuck well. I kept talking to him, keeping him alert and awake. Then we Larson, copyright (c) 2008 by Chuck Larson. Used saw an amtrac come by. I flagged him down, ran up the road by permission of Dutton Signet, a division of and told him to follow me. I ran back to the ditch and we loaded Penguin Group (USA) Inc. up our casualty. We went south through the city, offloaded our casualties to the Second Battalion, Eight