AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Being a Navy corpsman is one of the most demanding and respected jobs in the military. Not only are they expected to be fully capable of performing life-saving field medicine under fire, they also must maintain the standards and discipline of the Marines they work with. For Seaman Allen Pham, a corpsman with 2nd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, the challenge of deploying and working with the best was part of the appeal.
“I like being a greenside corpsman,” said the Oxnard, Calif., native. “I’m not doing the same day-to-day paperwork that people get stuck with. I am out here shooting guns, going on patrols and doing the fun stuff. I have to be ready to use everything I am taught at any moment.”
Corpsmen are divided into green-side and blue-side, depending on what training they have been through and whether they work in the field with Marines or in garrison in Navy hospitals and clinics.
For Pham, “going green” was an easy decision. From the beginning he wanted to get the training that would allow him to pursue a successful career once out of the Navy.
“Before I joined the Navy, I was an (Emergency Medical Technician,)” said the Oxnard High School graduate. “It was hard to get a foot in the door in the firefighter world. Being a corpsman, getting the training I did, and working out here with these guys – it’s going to open a lot of doors for me.”
Being part of the primary medical team for the nation’s “force in readiness” means the chance of deployment is always there, something that Pham knew and looked forward to.
“I expected to come to Iraq,” said the 21-year-old. “Sure I would like to be home, but I just think about my next duty, and take it day by day. It’s part of the job, and I am glad to be helping out.”
In order to prepare for his deployment, Pham spent time with the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, going through the same training and deployment readiness classes that the Marines went through. However, when he got to Ar Ramadi, he found things to be a little different than what he had expected.
“It’s been relatively quiet,” he said. “I thought it was going to be pretty crazy, I’d heard a lot of stories. So far though, it’s been mostly sick call and preventative medicine, nothing too serious.”
Quiet or not, Pham knows that he has to be ready at all times to keep his Marines in the fight. He says that the experience and training he is receiving while in Iraq are irreplaceable and will give him the edge he needs to pursue his goals in the civilian world.
“It will definitely give me an edge,” he said. “When guys graduate EMT schools, all they have is a piece of paper saying they know what they’re doing. I can say I’ve done it in a combat zone.”