MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines rely on their Navy corpsmen to always be there, to be ready at a moment’s notice to treat any injury or sickness, especially in a combat zone.
Seaman Brandon S. Stricklin, a Mansfield, Ohio, native and a corpsman with 2nd Marine Division, was there for his brother Marines for an entire year, deployed to Ar Ramadi, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2005 to February 2006.
The 24-year-old spent his year at Camp Blue Diamond, where the 2nd Marine Division’s headquarters element was based. He conducted foot patrols with the camp’s guard force for the first half of his deployment.
During that time, he was also responsible for the construction of a rigging device that would be used to evacuate casualties from the guard tower on the base.
The other half of the deployment he spent conducting sick call in the battalion aid station; a job he was unhappy with, but which he knew was important.
As a general corpsman in the BAS, Stricklin had no idea that his skills would be put to the test during combat.
But on Jan. 13, 2006, he was called to action when a Marine from 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment was shot while standing guard.
Stricklin and two other corpsmen were called out to the scene to help transport and treat the injured Marine.
“The Marine stopped breathing by the time we climbed to the top of the guard tower,” Stricklin explained. “We started basic CPR and then strapped him onto the stretcher and lowered him down the tower to the humvee.”
The corpsmen raced the wounded Marine to Camp Ramadi, a few miles from Camp Blue Diamond, to be treated by a surgeon.
“We continued to perform CPR on him in the back of the vehicle,” he recalled. “I kept thinking to myself how difficult it was to continue CPR on him. It was very disheartening to know he wasn’t going to make it. When we arrived at Camp Ramadi, the surgeon explained to us that he never had a chance to make it, and I’ll never forget that moment.”
Stricklin, who was home-schooled and graduated in 2000, explained how the events of that day have changed his outlook on life.
“I have a much sharper appreciation for the things that are important in life, like my family,” he said.
About a month later, Stricklin returned to the United States. He was able to see and spend time with his family again and look toward his future.
“I plan on going to bio-med repair school, a school designed to teach the fundamentals of repairing medical equipment,” he explained. “I might reenlist once, but I definitely want to get a college degree and go on to the National Criminal Intelligence Service after the Navy.”
Through all of Stricklin’s experiences in life, he said that no other moment sticks out in his head as much as Jan. 13 in Iraq.
“No matter where I go in life, that will be one memory that sticks with me,” he said. “It made me appreciate life.”