NEAR KARMAH, Iraq (June 29, 2007) – A forward resuscitative surgical system never, ever stands still while treating a wounded Marine – until today, when Cpl. Gareth Hawkins, 23, demanded to reenlist before being medically evacuated.
While conducting counter-insurgency operations this morning with Battalion Landing Team 3/1’s Lima Company, Hawkins’ vehicle was hit by a massive improvised explosive device, shattering his right leg and injuring two other Marines. Within minutes of the blast, Hawkins was set to be flown out of the area and into the hands of higher medical care.
According to 1st Sgt. Gary Moran, Lima Co. first sergeant, Hawkins didn’t want to leave until he was reenlisted by battalion staff here, more than 14 kilometers from his position.
"Hawkins just got hit in a major blast that could’ve killed him," Moran said, "and he said, ‘First Sergeant, I don’t want to fly out … I want to go to (the Combat Outpost) first’."
The first sergeant said he was stunned. After assessing Hawkins’ condition, movement to the COP was approved.
While lying on a litter in the surgical area, Hawkins, straining words through extreme pain, gave his reasons for the unusual request.
"’Cause it’s motivating," said the
native. "I was going to reenlist anyway, this is what I wanted to do."
Throughout the surgical station, Marines and medical personnel could be heard murmuring "(expletive) motivating, man …," and "that’s crazy." Hawkins wouldn’t budge.
The Battalion Executive Officer, Maj. Kevin Gonzalez, along with the Career Retention Specialist Staff Sgt. Chandrash Malapaka, and several others crammed into the tiny room for the ceremony.
"We’re going to do the short version of this," said the Executive Officer.
Raising his right hand, Hawkins took the oath of enlistment by 1st Lt. Warren A. Frank, his platoon commander. With no time for the usual formalities of backslaps and handshakes, Hawkins was immediately carried out via litter and evacuated.
Standing by his sense of duty and raw determination in the face of extreme pain and uncertainty, Cpl. Gareth Hawkins has epitomized the battalion motto of "3/1 Hard."Story and Photos By Sgt. Andy Hurt/13th MEU