MARJAH, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
For corpsmen with 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, a slow day is a good day.
With a slower work pace since Operation Moshtarak commenced in mid-February, the corpsmen finally have time to catch their breath, throwing their feet up in their new lounge comprised of sandbags. They have earned a little downtime.
It was a busy two months for the corpsmen with 3/6, when the Marines and corpsmen arrived in Marjah, treating the wounded throughout their area of operations.
Seaman Anderson Hernandez, a corpsman with 3/6, and other corpsmen found themselves in harm’s way to accomplish their mission of treating the Marines. The corpsmen, at times, even treat the enemy for battle wounds.
“HN Hernandez is as close to a Marine as you can get,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Wright, platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3/6. “On numerous occasions he has run under machine-gun fire to aid Marines and our Afghan allies. He is a vital part of the platoon and the Marines respect him. We wouldn’t want to go anywhere without corpsmen. It is their guidance and their hand that actually keeps us alive when bad things do happen.”
The corpsmen have not been as busy lately, now that the Marines have maintained a strong presence in Marjah.
“Things dramatically slowed down since the clearing phase of Marjah, to the point of we went from sitting by the radio listening for medical evacuation on a daily basis to now, maybe one every other day,” said Chief Petty Officer Christopher Silva, 30, the leading chief petty officer for the 3/6 battalion aid station. “We follow the medical evacuations from the line companies and the line corpsmen all the way up to the battalion. A lot of it is just sick calls, so things have slowed down, but not for the corpsmen. Now they are handling things such as medical schooling, new orders and thing of that nature.”
The corpsmen ensure all the Marines stay as healthy as possible, and now that the workflow has slowed, the corpsmen have a little time to take care of themselves.
“The corpsmen are coming back up to the battalion, going to the career counselor, getting orders, doing projects around the camp and improving the BAS.” said Silva, from Chatsworth, Calif. “We go from being extremely slow, to within minutes, people injured by the Taliban coming into our BAS. Things get hectic pretty quick, but not on a daily basis.”
The corpsmen stay vigilant, remembering the mindset of their initial days of fighting in Marjah.
“Usually right before a mission or patrol I am saying to myself, ‘I hope no one gets hurt today, I hope no one gets hurt today,’” said Hernandez, 21, from Boston. “The most satisfying thing about this job is to know that you are helping them, and that they can count on you.”