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Former Marine is back with the green

1 Apr 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric S. Duckworth might just be a glutton for punishment.

Duckworth, a 28-year-old corpsman assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment’s 3rd Civil Affairs Group detachment just can’t seem to get enough of the Marine Corps.  He’s served an enlistment as a Marine engineer, returned to become a Fleet Marine Force corpsman with the Navy and is now back on duty in Iraq.

He just shrugs it all off with a smile.

“It’s a big tradition in my family to join the military,” said Duckworth, from Peoria, Ill.

Duckworth’s grandfather served during WWII and more than a few cousins followed the family’s military tradition.  It was one of Duckworth’s cousins who first donned the Marine uniform.

“One of my cousins – who is more like a big brother to me – was the main reason I joined the Marine Corps,” Duckworth said.

These days, Duckworth finds himself traveling with the Marines responsible for assisting in rebuilding Iraq’s governance and infrastructure.  It’s a role he was seemingly groomed for his whole life.

It’s not just Duckworth’s Marine Corps tours that make him a great fit for the detachment.  His enlistments in the Marine Corps and Navy have both been in the reserves, allowing him to pick up more experience beneficial to Marines in Iraq.

“I work as a firefighter and a paramedic back home,” Duckworth explained. “As a paramedic I have had a lot of experience working with trauma victims.”

Duckworth has a “cool under pressure” demeanor among his Marines.  His experience both in and out of uniform has become a comforting factor they’ve come to rely upon.

“I feel secure in knowing that ‘Doc’ has all the experience he has,” said Sgt. Brian K. Clifton, a 30-year-old civil affairs non-commissioned officer from Fernandina Beach, Fla. “I think corpsmen like ‘Doc,’ … know a lot more about the job they are here to do.”

The group of Marines who make up CAG also know Duckworth won’t cut them any slack.  He knows what it takes to be a Marine, he expects them to take a certain amount of hardship.  He doesn’t coddle them.

“One of Doc’s famous little acts is passing out a straw to a one of us when we have a minor problem,” said Cpl. Joshua K. Thomas. “It’s his way of telling us to suck it up.”

Duckworth said it’s his role to care for his Marines, not overreact to every sniffle.

“I take care of my Marines,” Duckworth said. “But I am not there mother. Don’t get me wrong I always make sure my Marines are fine.  I give them the meds or the treatment they need when they need it. I just don’t baby them.”

Duckworth’s approach to caring for his Marines and accomplishing CAG’s mission fits right into the scheme of maneuver for his team.  They’re a bunch of independent free thinkers who do what it takes to get the job done.

“All of the Marines I have working for me are self sufficient. They don’t have to be supervised,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jerry R. Zimmerman, the 55-year-old team leader from Olympia, Wash. “‘Doc’ falls right in to that mix and handles the medical concerns of the Marines.” 

The Marines of 3rd CAG rallied around their corpsman with unanimous approval. They realized they have one of the best in his field.

“He loves his country and despite the jokes he makes, there is no doubt he loves his Marines,” Clifton said.