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


  1. My highest thanks to Cpl. Hawkins and prayers for his recovery process.Thanks, also, to Major Gonzalez, who honored his wishes.

  2. That right there is why our Marines are the very best! Gives OOH RAH a whole new meaning! Prayers to him for a fast and good recovery. THANK YOU for sharing this story……

  3. How can you not love these young warriors!!The best in the world!Speedy recovery Cpl Hawkins!OOrraahh! Semper fi

  4. Wow…I should no longer be amazed by the courage and commitment of America’s young men and women in uniform…but WOW…
    Thanks for posting that MP!

  5. This is the most inspiring story and brought tears to my eyes. I’m so proud of that young man! I wish him well and hope that he will be back on active duty ASAP.

  6. These guys are great. Got a Marine in the area mentioned. I met some of our warriors in DFW on Saturday. Shook some hands and thanked them for doing a great job. The first warrior was just walking down the hall. I stuck a hand out and he met it with his. His eyes lit up. Small gestures can mean the most to a soldier coming home. Had to put on my sunglasses for a while after that encounter. If seeing a soldier home does not affect you then you are dead already.

  7. Damn. Where do we get these guys? And why are we so blessed to have them?! Heal well Marine!
    Semper gratus!

  8. Yes, The Few, The Proud, even when in a life threating situation.One can Feel the Pride coming from a Marine.

  9. Cpl Hawkins, you definitely are the “Hardest of the Hard” in the 3/1. May your recovery be swift and complete under the continued watchful eye of your God and your team. Your actions demonstrates that even among “The Few, The Proud” there are few who exemplify this level of courage and commitment to the Corps and to the mission.

  10. Reading stories such as this makes me so damn proud to be an American. These young heroes are the best we have and I for one am thankful for them.
    I pray Cpl Hawkins has a speedy recovery.

  11. Like a good Devil-Dog he wanted to reenlist before he left the CZ so his reenlistment bonus wouldn’t be taxed.
    (Former 3/1 Marine)

  12. Okay, I’m probably the last guy to find this story, but it’s going to be a classic for long time and wanted to share how much it motivated me. I did my 20+, but where do I re-up? Boys and girls, you dont find civilians like that out here!

Leave a Reply