Armed Services YMCA Honors Military Medics, Corpsmen

By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2007 - The Armed Services YMCA paid tribute to military medics and corpsmen here last night during its first Angels of the Battlefield awards dinner.

The gala event singled out the contributions of military men and women who administer lifesaving medical treatment to U.S. troops on the front lines. Army medics and Navy corpsmen serve all branches of the military, including the reserves and National Guard.

"We cannot match the ultimate gift of hope that medics and corpsmen give to the wounded and their families," Eugene E. Habiger, chairman of the Armed Services YMCA, said. "Their brave and honorable service saves lives and allows families to be reunited. Their contributions are tremendous, and tonight we salute them."

Marine Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, was the keynote speaker at last night's event. Because of the efforts of medics and corpsmen, 75 percent of wounded troops return to duty, he told the audience. "Ladies and gentlemen that's a figure that has never been heard of before," he said. "It's just an absolutely incredible tribute to our medics and corpsmen."

Conway said medics and corpsmen exhibit a great deal of courage while performing their job. Instead of taking cover during a firefight, they enter the chaotic scene to aid those in need, he said.

"An incredible amount of heroism contributes in its entirety to the whole idea of those percentages I talked about," he said. "If you ask them about it, they say, 'It just goes with the job.'"

Habiger noted that one reason medics and corpsmen do their job so well is because of their outstanding training. "Training is the finest weapon in their arsenal," he said. "Thanks to their knowledge and training, these brave men and women are able to save lives of our wounded servicemembers."

Habiger also made the point that military medical personnel have a stellar record of treating journalists and other civilians injured on the battlefield. One such journalist is CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who was seriously wounded in Iraq in May 2006. She was on hand at the awards ceremony to thank Army medics for saving her life.

"It is because of Army medics that I'm able to stand here today and speak to you," she said.

Dozier and her crew were struck by a car bomb while reporting a story in Baghdad about American soldiers working with Iraqi security forces. Cameraman Paul Douglas, soundman James Brolan, a U.S. Army captain and an Iraqi translator were killed by the blast.

Spc. Izzy Flores, an Army medic, was one the first on the scene to treat Dozier and the other victims. "Izzy Flores and the soldiers who came to our aid did everything they could to keep us alive," Dozier said. "They saved three of us who should have been on the other side of death's door."

Dozier also thanked the medical personnel at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, Md., where she received long-term medical care. "They helped me keep my sanity and preserve my dignity," she said. "To all of them, thank you."

Flores, now assigned to Fort Hood, Texas, earned a Bronze Star for his actions that day.

"It was like going into robot mode," Flores told American Forces Press Service. "You do everything you're trained to do in a situation like that. My main concern was just to get everybody out of harm's way and fix them up."

The Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit national affiliate of the YMCA of the USA. It is the leading provider of social and support services to members of the U.S. military and their families.

The organization is a member of America Supports You, a Defense Department program that highlights the way American individuals, groups and corporations are supporting the nation's men and women in uniform.

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