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Navy Heroes

12 May 2003 | Lance Cpl. Brent Walker

On what they described as the worst day of the war, two Navy corpsmen took a pause from the death and destruction around them to save a new life.

The corpsmen, HN Jahmar Baybayan, 21, of Phoenix, Ariz., and HM3 Michael C. Herrington, 23, of George West, Texas, saved an unconscious Iraqi infant from overheating as their unit, C Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, stormed into Baghdad April 10.

On that day, the corpsmen treated some 200 patients over a 12-hour period, all in the same two-block radius of downtown Baghdad.

"That was by far the worst day of the war," Herrington said. "We saw more casualties that day than during this whole time combined."

"It was just terrible," said Baybayan. "We gave first aid to a lot of people. Ten or 12 hours, non-stop. Most of them were gunshot wounds, and many were kids under 12."

Herrington said corpsmen put out the same effort for American and Iraqi casualties, military or civilian. A patient is a patient, and when there are hundreds of patients corpsmen don't stop until the work is done.

"You don't think about it when it's happening. You just work," Herrington said. "Afterwards you start thinking about it. It hits you. I just treated a 5-year-old with a gunshot wound to the neck."

"All we could do for a lot of the people was give them first aid and have someone take them to the nearest hospital," Herrington said. He added that none of the casualties they treated that day were American.

In the midst of the carnage, one of Charlie Co.'s squad leaders told Baybayan about an unconscious infant in a nearby car.

"We got the call and went to the car the windows were rolled up and the baby was inside, bundled in layers of blankets," Baybayan said. "No wonder it was overheating."

The corpsmen checked for vital signs and proceeded to try and lower the baby's body temperature.

"The first thing we did was to check and see of the baby would wake up," Baybayan said. "It wouldn't. Next we checked breathing and circulation."

"The baby wasn't breathing, but it had a pulse," Herrington said. "We loosened the clothing. It was very hot. We poured a canteen of water on the baby and soaked a gauze field dressing to cool its forehead."

As Herrington worked to cool the baby's body temperature, Baybayan worked to revive the infant.

"I started by pinching its fingers and toes and rubbing its feet, which stimulates circulation," Baybayan said. "Pretty soon, the baby started crying. Once we were sure it was okay, an Iraqi doctor volunteered to take it to a hospital."

Few Marines or Sailors have the opportunity or ability to save a life in the middle of so much death, but Baybayan and Herrington don't see themselves as heroes.

"As far as helping people, that's our job," Baybayan said. "I don't feel like a hero. We did what we trained to do. We just wish we could have done more for the rest of them."