HADITHAH DAM, Iraq -- In the midst of emergencies, decisions made by emergency personnel often mean life or death. One Marine with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, who is also an EMT and volunteer fireman, understands the choices that civilian rescue teams make and is applying it to his first deployment to Iraq.
Private first class Hiram D. Haines, a light counter mortar radar monitor and administration clerk with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines has come from saving people in his hometown to helping the Marines save the lives of Iraqi people in the Global War on Terrorism.
“I served my community but I thought I could do more. So I decided to serve my country,” said the McConnelsville, Ohio native.
Haines, a 1998 graduate of Morgan High School, attended EMT basic course at Washington County Adult Training Facility in 2002 and later attended the State of Ohio Fire Academy the same year.
“I always enjoyed helping people,” the 25-year-old said. “Some of my family were also volunteer firefighters, so I thought I would do that as well.”
While working in the fire and medical fields, he earned the 2004 Full-Time Paramedic of the Year award and the 2002 Star of Life award with three others for performing lifesaving techniques.
“I had just gotten back to the station when we got a call for a shooting incident with one victim,” said Haines. “The location of the house was nearby so we rushed over there and began to treat her wounds.
“We knew that we were supposed to wait for the police to arrive first, but we knew that if we could save this woman’s life it would be worth any reprimand we would receive for operating out of protocol.”
There was no punishment for their courageous actions and the praise he received from this event would later inspire him to take the step to become a U.S. Marine.
“My fire chief at M&M fire department, Terry Bragg, was a Marine for 36 years and he held us to some of their regulations,” Haines said. “The rescue of that lady, Terry and other members of my family influenced me to join the Marine Corps.”
Haines joined the Marine Corps in the early months of 2004 and used his experiences as a firefighter to complete the challenges of boot camp.
“I had a fear of heights, but I had to overcome them quickly so I could become a fireman,” Haines said. “When we got to the obstacle course and the repelling tower at recruit training, I knew I would be able to do it. I wanted to be a Marine as much as I had wanted to be a fireman.”
By the year’s end, he had completed training and found himself preparing to deploy to Iraq.
“I was excited to get a chance to come over here and do my part,” Haines said. “I deal with the public a lot while working with the liaison coordinators. When I’m not dealing with the local people, I monitor the LCMR.”
The LMCR, or Light Counter Mortar Radar, monitors the area for mortar impacts and gives estimates of where they were launched from and how many might be incoming. Haines handles the sudden, unprovoked attacks at the base and on the streets of Iraq the same way he handles going into burning buildings as a fire fighter.
“This is an unstable environment out here and you have to be alert and be aware of your surroundings,” said Haines. “At any time, something can change and your life could be on the line.”
While he enjoys his time with his Marine Corps family, he still misses the companionship with his other family at the fire department.
“I miss our weekly meeting nights and the people in my community that I helped,” Haines said. “I know when I go back I will be able to help them, but right now I have to help these people so they can have a community like mine.”