MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- For Navy corpsmen serving with Marine units, treating casualities in combat and saving lives is what their job is all about. Most of them jump at the chance to deploy with the Marines and serve their country.
Petty Officer 1st Class Ronnie L. Mashburn, who recently returned from his second tour in Iraq, is one of those corpsmen.
The Iron Station, N.C., native was deployed with 2nd Marine Division in Ar Ramadi, Iraq from February 2005 to February 2006.
For the first part of his deployment, he was the battalion aid station’s assistant petty officer in charge. He also had the opportunity to be a part of the quick reaction force, a team of Marines who respond to any incident that may arise.
“We were on a mounted patrol in Ramadi,” said the 1991 East Lincoln High School graduate. “My vehicle commander and I got out of the humvee to set up an entry control point. I was in charge of telling people to stay back. After a few minutes, I heard a loud noise and I turned around and saw people running.”
Mashburn saw the Marines in a foot chase with insurgents armed with pistols and hand grenades. He heard on the radio that one Marine was killed and two wounded in the attack.
Mashburn would later find out that his vehicle commander was one of the two wounded.
“He was shot in the chin, but he was still running after the insurgents,” said the 32-year-old.
Mashburn’s vehicle caught up to the Marines chasing the insurgents after they caught them.
“When I came up to my vehicle commander he was covered in blood, adrenaline was pumping,” Mashburn explained. “I had to calm him down. I bandaged his wound and called in a medical evacuation. That was the first firefight I was in.”
After Mashburn’s time with the QRF, he packed his bags and headed to Fallujah with the Military Transition Team to train Iraqis in basic field medicine.
“We taught them basic first aid, basic sick call, and we trained their medics on how to use good judgment for triaging causalities,” he said.
His four months with the Iraqi Army training them, and he said the entire time was a learning experience not just for the Iraqis, but for him.
“We had to adapt to their training level in order to reach them,” he said. “They don’t always see things the way we do because of cultural differences.”
According to Mashburn, he saw growth in the Iraqis while he was there, and that he feels the transition team had a definite impact on them.
“At the beginning we had to hold them by the hand, but by the end of my time with them, they were more involved and had more experience,” he said.
Of the many experiences Mashburn had while deployed, he said nothing compares to being a corpsman with an infantry battalion though.
He was also deployed with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
“Being deployed with a grunt battalion is the epitome of being a corpsman,” he said. “I don’t do this job for the glory, I do it because I want to do it and being deployed with Marines is a big part of this job.”
Now that Mashburn is back in the United States, he looks forward to the rest of his career as a corpsman where he will take over as the petty officer in charge of the Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division battalion aid station. Mashburn wants to be an instructor at the Combat Casuality Care Course, training medical officers on mass causality situations.
Mashburn has two tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. With all of his experiences in combat, he feels his time has helped him personally and professionally.
“Iraq has given me experience to develop as a leader, a person and a corpsman,” he said.