It’s been a year since Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Benny
Flores was thrown from the back of a pickup truck in southwest
Afghanistan by a suicide-bomb blast. Since then, he’s had some time to
reflect on what followed — about 20 minutes of chaos, during which his
valor under enemy fire earned him a Silver Star.
But his reflection on the April 2012 attack in Zaranj, the capital of Nimruz province, centers around one man.
“The one Marine we lost,” Flores said.
Sgt. Scott Pruitt died from injuries received in the attack; he was
riding in the same pickup as Flores, seated on the passenger side and
taking the brunt of the explosion.
The blast set off a firefight.
Flores first treated another Marine who’d been thrown from the truck,
then returned to the vehicle to check on the Afghan driver and Pruitt,
who already had no pulse, was not breathing and had suffered
siginificant blood loss, according to a May 2012 Defense Department news
article on the incident. Flores applied a tourniquet and Pruitt was
removed from the vehicle, but it was too late.
“I’m always asking
my self if there was anything else I could have done,” Flores said,
adding that those he talks to about the incident “always tell me the
same thing — that you did all you could have done.”
much more during the firefight, running into the road — and into enemy
fire — four times to help Marines and their Afghan allies, according to
his award citation. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his back and arms,
refusing treatment until the gunfire ceased.
“I wasn’t paying attention” to the enemy, Flores, 30, said. “We had Marines there, I trusted them to protect me.”
was scheduled to receive his Silver Star in a Friday ceremony at Camp
Pendleton, Calif., with his family in attendance. He said he’s always
dreamed of being on the medical staff of a professional sports team, but
for now is focused on his Navy service. His most recent enlistement
will take him to the 16-year-mark, said Flores, who enlisted in 2001.
“I’m a lifer,” he said.