CAMP HURRICANE POINT, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Benjamyn Savard’s job often involves dodging enemy small arms fire and roadside bombs as he cruises around the city here for hours in a humvee. Wielding an M-16 A4 service rifle and toting a heavy pack full of gear while trekking through the streets on long missions with his Marine comrades is also part of his job description.
Though dangerous and physically and mentally challenging, Petty Officer 2nd Class Savard enjoys being a corpsman. It’s been his profession for more than a decade.
“I enjoy working with the Marines because I really feel like I’m part of the team,” said the 29-year-old from San Diego.
Savard is the senior line corpsman for Company W, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. The infantry battalion is in Al Anbar’s capital conducting security and stabilization operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I’m with them on patrols doing the same thing most of the time until medical attention is needed,” he added.
Savard enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Cosby High School in 1994. He was 17-years-old when he raised his right hand and swore to support and defend.
“I wanted to see the world and be the first in my family to join the military and take a different path,” Savard, who has four brothers, said.
He has traveled to Australia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines during his 11-year-career in the Navy and he has operated alongside Marines as a corpsman for the past seven years. This is his send second time in as many years supporting OIF.
“I’ve been to all those places and my brothers haven’t really ever left home,” he said, grinning.
The OIF veteran also recently earned his Fleet Marine Force pin, which symbolizes his knowledge of Navy and Marine Corps history, customs and courtesies and Marine Corps and amphibious operations. Savard was awarded the pin by Company W’s commander, Capt. Michael J. Butler, during a ceremony here July 24.
“This is a job well done,” said Butler to the more than 50 Marines and Sailors who attended Savard’s ceremony. “He put forth a lot of hard work to earn this pin.”
Savard managed his time wisely by using every spare moment he had to study so he could pass the test.
“I studied for 45 days straight,” he said. “I’d spend an hour studying here and there between patrols, and all the hard work paid off.”
This type of self-discipline is routine for Savard. He’s the kind of person who sets his mind on something and does it. Two months after returning stateside to San Diego from the fighting in Fallujah, he volunteered to return to Iraqi with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines.
The decision didn’t set well with his wife, Jennifer, but Savard said “it was something I had to do. She wasn’t much for me coming back here, but I belong out here with the Marines. They need me.”
Savard said he has rushed to aid wounded Marines countless times on the urban battlefield.
“‘Corpsman up’ is the famous saying and I enjoy what I do,” he said. “I like the medical field and helping heal people.”
Chief Petty Officer Rodney J. Lewis, the senior medical department representative for 1st Battalion, 5th Marines’ Battalion Aid Station, agrees that Savard is in the right place.
“He belongs out here,” said Lewis. “He’s right at home with the Marines; always on missions and working hard.”
Savard plans to make a full 20-year-career out of the Navy.
“I’ve already passed the halfway mark,” he said. “I can make it to 20.”
Savard will be attending Independent Duty Corpsman School in San Diego in April, but is more excited about what awaits him when he returns home.
“I can’t wait to get back and be with my wife and daughter, Skylar,” he said, smiling. “That’s my motivation.”