CAMP HURRICANE POINT, Iraq -- As a boy growing up in the small town of Sinjana, Guam, Francis P. Manaloto had dreams of someday joining the military and seeing different parts of the world.
Shortly after graduating from John F. Kennedy High School in 2002 the ambitious Manaloto brought his dreams to life when he joined the United States Navy.
“It was a way for me to get out of Guam and travel,” the Petty Officer 3rd Class said, adding Navy service would also “help pay for a college education.”
Manaloto, whose parents are Leonardo and Teresita Manaloto, chose the medical field when he enlisted and is currently serving as a corpsman for 3rd Platoon, Company W, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
“I like the medical field,” he said. “It appeals to me because I enjoy helping people.”
Manaloto’s duties as a corpsman are often dangerous and physically and mentally challenging. He accompanies his Marines each day as they travel about the streets of Ramadi in humvees conducting security and stability operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The infantry battalion is in Iraq for a third time in as many years supporting OIF. This is 21-year-old Manalot’s second deployment. He joined 1st Battalion, 5th Marines straight after completing Navy Recruit Training in June 2003, when the infantry battalion was gearing up for their second deployment.
Manaloto carries a pack full of medical supplies, wields an M-16 A4 service rifle and bears the workload of his Marine counterparts until his medical attention is required.
“It’s tough being a corpsman at times,” said Manaloto. “I have to balance being a corpsman and a Marine. I have to do everything the Marines do.”
A challenging work schedule and conditions aside, Manaloto finds gratification in his job.
“The satisfaction of knowing that I’m able to operate alongside infantry Marines is good,” said Manaloto, who considers himself a go-getter. “I’m the kind of guy that has to be active. I can’t stay still or be in one place too long.”
He further proved his determination by earning his Fleet Marine Force pin, which symbolizes his knowledge of Navy and Marine Corps history, customs and courtesies and Marine Corps and amphibious operations.
Manaloto often burned the midnight oil as he stayed up after long missions to study the FMF books so he could pass the test.
“I studied hard for three hours each day for a month to earn the pin,” he said after being awarded the pin by Company W’s commander, Capt. Michael J. Butler, during a ceremony here July 24. “It feels good to have earned the pin. The hard work and studying paid off.”
The pin, which Manaloto now wears above the left breast pocket of his camouflaged blouse, is also a symbol of pride for him.
“Other Sailors back at the hospitals in the states give respect to those of us who’ve earned the pin,” he said proudly.