Photo Information

CAMP AL QA'IM, Iraq (June 25, 2005)- Hospitalman Ramon R. Alfaro, a corpsman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team-2 receives a Purple Heart for wounds received during combat operations here. The Atwater, Calif., native took shrapnel in the leg during Operation Matador here. Alfaro is a 2002 Atwater High School graduate. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel (RELEASED)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel

3/2 ‘Doc’ recalls firefight

8 May 2005 | Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel

“I’ll never forget what happened on that day,” said Hospital Corpsman Ramon R. Alfaro who had recently came from a fire fight that occurred during Operation Matador May 8. The 21-year-old Atwater, Calif., native attached to 2nd Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was with 3rd squad when the fire fight broke out. The Marines and Alfaro were waiting to cross a bridge being constructed by an Army Assault-bridging Company across the Euphrates River, but construction was moving slowly, due to the soldiers receiving indirect fire from the town of Al Ubaydi. So the Assault Amphibian Vehicle carrying the Marines moved across the river and their cargo of Marines off-loaded. “We could hear the rounds hitting the outside of the vehicle before the door opened and we got off,” explained the 2002 Atwater High School graduate. The Marines exited the vehicle running into a ditch in front of them for cover, Alfaro said. After about 15-20 minutes of exchanging fire with insurgents, Marines started moving squads forward into the town. Alfaro and his fire team provided security as another fire team from his squad started clearing houses on one side of the street. After a few minutes the teams switched roles and Alfaro’s team started clearing houses on their side of the road. According to Alfaro, they cleared all the way to the last house on the block. Before they could clear that last house insurgents from inside engaged the Marines.Alfaro and the Marines were caught in the open as the insurgents engaged them with what he described as, “heavy automatic fire.” “As I ran to get cover, I got hit in the leg with something. I didn’t know what it was at first, but I could feel a burning sensation,” Alfaro continued. “I knew I was hurt, but I also knew that the Marines in my fire team were hurt worse than I was.” Alfaro began working on one of the injured Marines, who had received gun-shot wounds, while a Marine aided another. Alfaro, with a bandage on his leg, managed to help save the injured Marine he was working on. “I couldn’t even walk when it was time to get back on the track and get to the Medevac,” he said. “It turned out to be a piece of shrapnel believed to be from a round that went through my leg. It barely missed the bone and they didn’t take it out because they thought it would do more damage,” Alfaro explained. This was Alfaro’s first fire fight and he described the emotions that ran through him that day. “I was angry that we got hit by these insurgents, but I thought to myself ‘you have to help these Marines out, they’re hurt a lot worse than you,” he continued. “I think the anger drove me harder to pull myself together and do my job.” The fire fight gave Alfaro confidence in his abilities to treat injured Marines in difficult situations. “Before the operation began I was thinking, ‘how am I going to react in a situation like this.’ But now that this has happened, I know that I’ll be able to do my job in this situation,” he said. Alfaro was given a week to recover from his injury and made sure to call his parents and let them know that he was safe and explained to them what happened. “I called my parents and told them I was ok and overall they were glad I was safe. I told them not to worry about me, and at least I was able to provide help to the other guys that needed it,” Alfaro explained.