Navy-Marine Corps MARS in Vietnam

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NMCSD Hospital Corpsman Awarded Bronze Star

Release Date: 11-24-2004

SAN DIEGO--A Sailor attached to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) was awarded the Bronze Star, recently, for his role in combat operations against insurgents in the Iraqi city of Najaf.

Hospital Corpsman Second Class CJ Eison, while serving as Platoon Corpsman for 1st Platoon, Company B, Battalion Landing Team 1/4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operation Capable), risked his own safety on several occasions to render aid to wounded Marines while under constant enemy fire.

From August 5 to 6, 2004, 1st Platoon battled insurgents of the Mahdi Militia, loyal to Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, in Najaf cemetery. First Platoon was pushing through the cemetery, clearing the area of insurgents when shortly before nightfall, the platoon came under small arms, machinegun and mortar fire.

“When that first round went by my head it was a big wake up call,” said Eison.

A mortar round impacted near the platoon, wounding the platoon’s other Corpsman and two Marines. Eison, despite mortar rounds continuing to fall, rushed to aid his wounded comrades, stabilized them and evacuated them to a casualty collection point. First Platoon then set up a defensive perimeter to wait out the night. According to Eison, the Marines were equipped with night vision goggles, but he wasn’t.

“That night in the cemetery was the scariest night of my life. We were lying down in the cemetery in pitch black and the insurgents were taking pot shots at us. The only good thing about the night was that the insurgents wouldn’t attempt to come close to us because they knew the Marines had night vision.”

The next morning as the platoon crossed an open space, a Marine was shot by a sniper.

I heard the round go off, looked over and saw him go down,” Eison said. “It shocked me seeing this guy shot right in front of me.”

The platoon staff sergeant gave covering fire as Eison crossed over the open space, to the wounded Marine’s side.

“Seeing one of the guys that you’ve bonded with go down is hard, but you’ve got to keep your composure and do your job as best you can.”

While under constant sniper fire, Eison treated the Marine’s chest wound and readied him for evacuation. The following night, the platoon again came under heavy mortar fire. One of the mortar rounds impacted a few feet from Eison, wounding him and two Marines.

“My left foot went instantly numb. I thought it was gone. My first instinct was to take cover and I tried to jump over a tombstone, but I couldn’t bear weight on my legs.”

According to Eison, the wounded Marines were calling to him for help, but he wasn’t able to move due to severe shrapnel wounds to his legs and feet. Moments later one of the Marines Eison treated the night and the platoon staff sergeant came to his aid.

“I dropped my medical gear in the explosion. I told them to go get it and then I explained to them how to treat me and the other two guys that got hit.”

The Marines stabilized Eison and 15 minutes later he and the other wounded were evacuated to a Battalion Aid Station. From there, they were evacuated, by helicopter, to a hospital in Baghdad where Eison underwent surgery to repair his wounds.

For his selfless actions over the course of those two days in August, Eison was recommended for the Bronze Star. Rear Admiral John M. Mateczun, Commander, Naval Medical Center San Diego, presented him with the medal at a ceremony attended by Eison’s family, friends and colleagues.

News Courtesy of: JO2 (SW) Joshua Smith, Naval Medical Center PAO

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