Hero, man of steel, guardian angel are just some of the terms that come to mind when young warriors step up and take on the scumbags head on. These guys just do it with style and make holidays something to be thankful for!
ANAH, Iraq (Dec. 14, 2006) – Lance Cpl. Thomas Garlock wouldn’t say that he is “better” than any other infantryman in his battalion – at least, not without joking about it.
He doesn’t walk with a swagger and he seems almost embarrassed to answer questions about himself.
But just three months into 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion’s Iraq deployment, Garlock, a 19-year-old from Springville, N.Y., has earned the respect of Marines throughout the battalion.
Twice now, Garlock has come to the aid of Marines in his patrol when they were wounded-in-action, helping assist the battalion’s Navy corpsmen to save lives.
He isn’t alone though. About two thirds of Marines throughout 2nd LAR are now certified Combat Lifesavers, and are now trained to act as an “extra set of hands” for corpsmen, according to Navy Lt. Andrew Bailey, the battalion’s medical officer.
The Marines underwent the week-long class for certification back in Camp Lejeune, N.C., where the battalion is stationed. In seven days, they learned what Navy corpsmen call “combat style” first aid –treating gunshot wounds and burns and applying tourniquets, Garlock said.
The course helps Marines empower themselves to help rather than just be bystanders in the event immediate medical care is needed, said Bailey, a 30-year-old from Denver, Colo. The course also helps keep the corpsmen fresh in basic combat life-saving skills, which, in turn, helps them maintain their proficiency by having to thoroughly explain techniques to Marines, Bailey added.
“We learn how to patch someone up if it’s a basic wound, or how to stabilize them until a corpsman gets there,” said Garlock.
In Iraq’s Anbar Province, where U.S. and Iraqi forces face small-arms fire and improvised explosive attacks daily, the combat lifesaving skills can come in handy.
An improvised explosive device wounded three Marines, including the patrol leader and assistant patrol leader, during a patrol Garlock was on.
After recovering from the momentary shock, Garlock, like many other Marines that have dealt with similar situations, sprung into action. With the aid of Navy Hospitalman Nicholas Sortino, Garlock assessed the injured Marines and prioritized the injuries.
As Sortino assessed the most seriously injured Marine, Garlock came to the aid of two others.
As they worked on their patients, the two shouted to each other, giving updates on their patient’s condition and treatment.
By communicating and utilizing skills from the combat lifesaver course, the two were able to quickly identify the more serious – and life-threatening – of the three wounded Marines.
“Garlock’s our ‘Lance Corpsman,’” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Deguzman, senior corpsman for Company A, in a half-joking referral to Garlock’s rank of lance corporal.
During a separate patrol, Garlock found himself in the same situation: an IED attack wounded Marines on patrol. This time, though, there was no Navy corpsman to assist Garlock. It was up to him and several other Marines to treat the wounded.
“That first time was pretty hectic,” Garlock said. “The second time was easier because the squad knew what we had to do.”
“He jokes with me that he doesn’t even need me, he’s got it all under control,” said Sortino.
While Marines play a vital role in helping save lives on the battlefield, the week-long class won’t give them all the knowledge or experience a good corpsman uses to treat his patients, said Bailey.
Still, the course has already proven its weight in gold – it’s helped at least one Marine save lives.
“The corpsman we have on the streets are our best asset,” said Bailey. “They’re saving lives on a daily basis. I can take treatment further, but it’s their assessment and what they do that keeps the injured Marines alive.”
Story, photos by Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Sapp
2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion