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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

“Oh Shi..” The rest of the Story…

This is ported over from our Forums at Corpsman.com with permission of the Author, “HN(FMF) – DOC RAH” otherwise known as SpYkeCod.  Thanks Doc!


Doc Rah explains what a Combat Tour is really like in Afghanistan.


It’s been over 1 year since I posted this thread and a lot has happened in that year. I’m back from my deployment. Unfortunately I was unable to put where I was going due to OPSEC and I didn’t know where I was going until I arrived to my deploying unit. Now that its over with I can tell you who I was with, where we deployed, what role I played while there, and my overall experience with Division.

When I posted this all I knew was that I was going to 1STMARDIV. Soon after I found out what unit and it was 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. That was about it for what was known and what all I posted for those to read and answer the questions I had. When I finally left NH Guam and arrived at Camp Pendleton, CA it was probably the scariest thing I have felt in my whole life. It was really happening. I was deploying. So much was going through my mind… where was I going to be deployed too? The training from FMTB, is it going to come back? What if I don’t make it? So much that I was stressing out. Well I was told that everyone, before even getting to their unit, as far as HSAPs go (I’m sure that new Docs with the division have to go through this class as well, but don’t quote me on it), was to go through a course called CTM, Combat Trauma Management. This, by far, was the most educational class that the Navy has ever sent me to. Sure, you’ll learn some cool things at field med, but CTM was a whole new animal. The training that we received there was incredible and its because of that course I was able to perform my duties as a Corpsman out in country. Any new Corpsman going to deploy, you will learn so much at that course, so don’t take it for granted. As soon as I “graduated” from that course I met up with my unit at EMV, Mojave Viper. There it was well… slow. A lot of hurry up and stand by. We did some ranges as well as different exercises. Us Corpsman continued to practice the skills we learned at CTM, PMARCHP, as well as train with our Marines. Being with Division as a Corpsman is very different than working in a Hospital. Personally, this was what I wanted from the beginning, but let me explain why. As a Line Corpsman, you are their Corpsman, the medical specialist, the guy that knows everything about anything, you are their “Doc”. You won’t here anyone call you with that name, that title of “Doc” anywhere in a Hospital. You are the guy that does everything that your Marines will do, but when they are tired and resting your checking up on those Marines. It’s difficult at times, but it’s the most rewarding job that you will ever encounter. In the Hospital, I was some HN that filed chits and registered people on CHCS. Just a small person with a task that, well honestly blew. Now I was helping out those that needed it and still playing “G.I. Joe”. It’s f-ing awesome and I loved every part of it.

During EMV, I was told where we where deploying to and what company and platoon I was attached to; this just so happened to be 1/5 Charlie Company, 1st Platoon. During the deployment I was patrolling every day with 2nd Squad of 1st Plt. Our deployment was out to Sangin, Afghanistan to replace 3/5. I don’t know if anyone where was really keeping up to date with who is out where and what was going on at this time, but things we heard wasn’t sounding good, according to the Marines that were there. I’m not here to give war stories, nor compete about who’s dicks bigger, but the truth is that Sangin was quite the s!#$-hole of Afghanistan. 3/5 was taking massive casualties. At the end of their deployment they had 25 KIA and more than 200 wounded in Sangin. It wasn’t after EMV that a few of us Docs got together and started to talk about where we are going to and what should we expect when we get there. Now this was a different stress factor, dealing with how are we going to really do our jobs out there when we, unfortunately take a casualty. For many of us Corpsman, this was our first deployment and for most of us we never dealt with casualties in a combat zone. Some of us prayed, some of us drank, but all of us continued to practice tourniquet drills, IVs, litter drills, etc. Again, I can’t stress enough on the new Docs going over, I don’t care where you are being deployed to, take every piece of information from everyone that has deployed before and store it in your brain. If its training that will help you out in the field, practice it. That saying about if you don’t practice your only failing yourself is BS in this situation. Your failing your Marines. Period. You have to be the hottest sh!t. You might fool the “boot” Marines, but when it comes to those Marine that deployed before, best believe they will know if you don’t know your sh!t, and nothing is worse when your Marines can’t trust you. I’m not here to scared you either, but I want you to realise the importance of your job during a deployment. Your not just out there to “get some” with your Marines, because in the end your not a Marine. Your their Doc, and you need to know your job accordingly. Don’t be that guy.

So now we move to the deployment itself… It was… honestly in my opinion, well f$#! my opinion. We got our job done. This war we are fighting is a different war that most of us new guys are used to seeing/hearing. It’s not your normal shoot the bad guys, win the war. It’s all about COIN (Counter-Insurgency) and Hearts and Minds out there. We never saw the enemy. We only saw what they placed into the ground; IEDs, Weapons, IED Making Material, etc. We were constantly interacting with the Locals and to ask them about how security was and things of that nature. There definitely was a difference from when we first got to Sangin to when we left, and for the better. Unfortunately I experienced seeing and dealing with casualties from Marines to Local Nationals and Afghan Police, but the training in which I learned from CTM kicked in. Your first time dealing with your first casualty is well… your like “F—!” and you determine what just happened and your training just kicks in. You really don’t even think about it, you just know what to do. It was hard, because you get to know that Marine you spend all this time with, learning about him and what’s his plans are when he gets back home, etc… well he just stepped on an IED and now your treating him, your Squad Leader is setting up a LZ for a POI, and your Marines are going through different emotions. Your the Doc that has to honestly try to hold your emotions back and do your job. It’s honestly the hardest part of our job, but when you see those Marines at the Parade Deck when you come home… the smiles on their faces to see you and the others… It was honestly one of the happiest moments in my life. For f—-sake I’m tearing up typing this. I don’t have to tell you, because I’m sure everyone who knows what I’m talking about would agree, its a good feeling knowing what you did saved them and they are thanking you for that and your just happy to see them.

Going back to training, the more you practice it, the more it becomes muscle memory and you just know what to do. Also the more drills you practice with other docs and your marines the better they will get and the more confident in your abilities you will become. Having the skills doesn’t just happen over night. It takes dedication to wanting to learn, and when you’ve learned you need to learn more. You can never know too much in this field, because the more you know, the better you are. Honestly I don’t need to be telling you this, because you should already know this… Right?

I was patrolling everyday of this 7 Month deployment with my guys. From normal security patrols to company wide operations. I was doing them all. When I wasn’t patrolling, I was checking up on my Marines. If they were good, then I was either eating, radio watch, or sleeping. Trust me, to the guys going out on their first pump, your going to know your Marines well, sometimes too well haha. There will be times where you won’t be able to stand some of them, and at other times you’ll be happy that they are there. They truly will become your second family. Once you come back and realize that no-one is going to care about the stuff you did out there, the only ones who will be able to relate will be those Marines that you deployed with. I dealing with this right now and it sucks because it’s a debt from Americans that will go unpaid and I’m here to tell you that all you can do is suck it up and move on with your life. Those war-stories you have, talk about them with your Marines and anyways, I always thought that the Marine that told you his war-stories wasn’t as bad-ass as the ones that keep them to themselves. Just saying. lol. I believe that we completed our mission, even how impossible-sounding of a task it was.

Being with the Division has changed my life and what started this as a “Oh Shi-, Help.” thread, well I want to end it with a thank you to all those that contributed to helping me with sending me materials to even giving me your .02 and looking out for a fellow Corpsman. I can’t thank you all enough and I hope that this continues for the future Docs that are put into my situation and those with similar to it.

If there are any questions about this deployment, please fire away, I’ll answer them as best as I can.

*On a personal note, during this deployment I became a father. On Aug 16th, my wife gave birth to a baby girl, in who we named Alexis. I haven’t been home yet, but best believe I’m excited to start a new chapter in my life. Oh, and I did receive my FMF Pin while in country. Haha just thought you might wanna know.


5 Responses to ““Oh Shi..” The rest of the Story…”
  1. Doc Carson says:

    I was out there in Sangin during 1/5. I was at FOB Jackson, I worked in the STP. You might remember me, HN Carson. Glad you made it back home safe man.

  2. Kellen Gumm says:

    Good post dude. Best of luck. I’m glad we prepared you well brother.
    -Hm2 Gumm
    CTM instructor

  3. John Young says:

    Nice post.

    HM1 Young

  4. Ernest M Jimenez says:

    Your experiences were almost identical to mine. Damn fine post brother. I couldn’t have put it into better words myself. I was with 3/7 in 2010 in Sangin turning over with the Royal Marines and 3/5. Stay up bro

    HM3 Jimenez

  5. Patti Bond says:

    Does anyone have any info on when soldiers are coming home from afghanistan on Feb 2nd? Where or How? No info and I am a navy corpsman mother. Any info will help.