Seamus forwarded this letter on to me. All I can say is that every military job speciality can make a big impact on the War. Every job is what you make of it. Just ask Sgt. Hook.
No Insignificance Here
By Paul "Devil Dolphin" Prehodka, US Navy, HMX-1 (Quanitco)By MGySgt Billy D. Stewart Jr. Aviation Supply Chief at the Pentagon
Since arriving in Iraq, Master Sergeant Adams just didn’t feel like himself physically. He had apparently developed some kind of upper respiratory infection, but like most Marines, he passed it off and just worked through it hoping it would subside. He was in great shape and usually had no problem exercising his way through such minor set backs. Little did he know that the progression of his illness would bring him to an experience that would have extraordinary meaning for himself, as well as all Marines that would be privileged enough to hear about it..
A few months had passed and MSgt Adams found himself on a trip from Al Asad to Taqaddum (TQ), Iraq, a base in close proximity to the town of Fallujah. On his second day there, some down time gave him the opportunity to finally get checked out medically. After walking into the “sick call tent,” greetings came from a nearby corpsman asking “what’s the problem?” After some discussion, the Master Sergeant removed his gear, sat and waited his turn. Shortly thereafter, another young corpsman escorted him to a “make shift” exam room with a field gurney, and a poncho liner for a curtain. Vital signs were taken, and the corpsman left the room. On the way out, the corpsman closed the curtain leaving it slightly open.
The situation had slightly shifted in the tent. Through the opening in the curtain, Marines in their body armor paced to and fro. The sound of incoming casualties began to fill the air. MSgt Adams knew that constant clashes with insurgents were all too common for Marines located at Fallujah, and he began to sense that there were Marines that needed much more medical attention that he did. Suddenly, the faint sound of a medical officer’s voice asked a young Marine “what is your name?” The Marine replied LCpl Phillips sir.” Next came a series of questions and answers that could only describe a far too common sight.
First, the doctor asked the LCpl Phillips how he sustained a deep burn on his lower back. The young leatherneck replied that he and his team were receiving small arms fire, when a rocket impacted the area close to his and a piece of hot shrapnel became lodged under his body armor which cut and burned him. Unfortunately, the doctor was not done.
The second question inquired about the LCpl’s broken arm. Again, the young Marine told his story. “After having recovered from the 1st impact, another rocket came zooming in and killed a buddy to the left and knocked me to the ground.” By this time Master Sergeant Adams was feeling pretty selfish. The “Top” completely expected a General Patton type of Marine to walk into “his field hospital” and kick him out saying that his hospital is for fighting Marines, not Marines with a runny nose! As the MSgt was preparing to walk out, the doctor asked about LCpl Phillip’s third injury.
Continuing with his description, Phillips exclaimed “after the corpsman patched me up and put my arm in a sling, another rocket or rocket propelled grenade (RPG) impacted near me and killed another buddy and projected shrapnel into my hand. Finally, MSgt Adams, filled with guilt, then got up and started to make his way for the hatch. Just at that moment a Navy Lieutenant greeted him and he asked, “Where are you going MSgt?” MSgt Adams then explained to him that there were Marines here that needed his attention much more. The lieutenant then told him to sit down so he could have a look.
The lieutenant quickly went through the examination of the MSgt’s ears, nose and throat, and just to be sure, they went outside away from the noisy generator so he could get a listen to his lungs. The doctor confirmed a bronchial infection and that required medication. The lieutenant quickly returned with medication, while MSgt Adams humbly thanked him and exited the cubicle. While departing, the MSgt caught a glimpse of LCpl Phillips laying with his arm in a sling with a 6” wide bandage around his mid-section, and another on his hand.
MSgt Adams soon had his gear on and headed out of the tent when he suddenly stopped, turned around, walked quickly back to the injured LCpl’s cubicle. The MSgt stuck his head in and startled him slightly. When the LCpl Phillips made eye contact, he attempted to dismount his gurney and stand up. The MSgt told him to relax and that he just couldn’t help over hearing the incredible account of the actions from the previous night. The young Marine went on to give a few other horrific details that left the MSgt again shaking his head in utter disbelief. At a loss for words, MSgt Adams said that he just wanted to thank him for what he does and for the bravery he displayed. After a well deserved “Semper Fi.” and good luck, again the MSgt attempted to leave the area.
LCpl Phillips then stopped him in his tracks asking “MSgt, what do you do?” After hearing his story, followed by seeing and talking to this young man, his response was simply “nothing.” That day the MSgt felt insignificant compared to this Marine and his ordeal. Then the young Marine inquired again, “No, really MSgt, what do you do?” MSgt Adams then explained that he was an Aviation Supply Chief. LCpl Phillips went on to ask if the MSgt had anything to do with making sure that the Cobras (AH-1W) fly and have ordnance?
The MSgt replied “the Marines that I work with issue parts to the squadrons, and the ordnance Marines issue and load rockets onto the Cobras.” It was then that the young LCpl could have stopped time with his profound statement. He stated, “if it were not for the Cobra helicopter that zoomed in about 10 minutes after the third impact, I would probably not be here.” He went on to say that two helicopters wiped out a bunch of the “bad guys” that were encroaching upon them as well. LCpl Phillips then thanked the MSgt and shook his hand. As the MSgt Adams left the tent he was amazed, shocked, and proud all at the same time. He could only think and be reminded of what a great institution the Marine Corps is and of every Marine it took to put that Cobra Helicopter on target. His thoughts ring an anthem of our Corps ethos.
There is nothing like a true story to get our attention. Just a few days ago, the words and actions, respectively, of MSgt Adams and LCpl Phillips solidified and confirmed every Marine’s worth to the institution, and more so, to each other. In this case, an account like this brings us all back to reality and tell us to “bloom where we are planted” and sustain our individual link in the chain. From the “last Marine in the last squad” to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, our collective importance cannot be underestimated. In a Corps where every Marine must contribute, let today’s anecdote guide your conscience and “keep your mind right.” Take the time this week and remember to stay focused on being the best Marine you can be, whatever task you’re given. Your action equals reaction that will prove to be significant; I guarantee it. Please continue to drive on. Your Country, your Corps and your fellow Marines and sailors thank you. Semper Fi.