MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- It is the first day of the Combat Lifesaver Course and the man in the green camouflage uniform is nervous as he surveys the crowd of Marines waiting for him to begin the class.
In combat, these are his Marines; Seaman Brandon S. Stricklin is responsible for keeping them alive if they get hurt. Stricklin says he knows he can do that because he has enough training and experience to handle nearly any situation.
Today he is faced with a challenge that he hasn’t been trained for. Today, he must teach these Marines basic lifesaving skills.
For the 24-year-old Mansfield, Ohio, native, being a corpsman comes natural to him. He has served with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division for two years, including a 12-month deployment to Iraq. However, he has never been an instructor for a group of Marines.
“This is my first time teaching in a classroom type setting,” Stricklin said. “I was pretty nervous at first. I’ve never actually stood in front of a group and taught before.”
The tension on Stricklin’s face was obvious as the class began and he stumbled through the first couple of slides of the PowerPoint presentation. Slowly, Stricklin began to warm to his audience and started taking more time between each slide, sharing his experiences in Iraq.
“I’ve had a few experiences I wanted to share with the class,” he said. “I gained a lot of experience in Iraq, got a lot of training while I was over there. My abilities to treat chest injuries and perform hemorrhage control are vastly improved from the experiences I had.”
As Stricklin got more involved in the course, he began to stress the important responsibilities these Marines will be saddled with in combat. They might be fighting to save the lives of their fellow Marines and corpsmen.
“When you realize you are responsible for the life of a human being, you’re going to stop and think about it,” he said. “There is no place for personal pride on the battlefield. You have to do everything you can to keep that person alive.”
That message got through loud and clear to one of the students in the class, Lance Cpl. Evelyn Andrade, a separations clerk with the battalion.
“The one thing that got to me was when Stricklin said that no matter who you are, you feel something towards the person you are helping, knowing that they might die and you can’t do anything about it,” said the 19-year-old Newark, N.J., native. “I could imagine how I would react to seeing one of my friends get shot.”
Stricklin made sure the students understood they could be faced with applying the knowledge they gained in a combat zone where they won’t have their notes to study.
“I’m confident I got the job done,” Stricklin added after the course was completed. “If any of my students came to save my life, I know I would be alright.”