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A young Iraqi girl eats a piece of candy that was given to her by Marines with Company A, 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 during a humanitarian mission in al-Anbar province, Iraq, Dec. 10. The Marines and sailors with Company A conducted operations in the area as part of Task Force Mech, RCT-5. Conducting security patrols and interacting with the local Iraqi civilians have afforded the service members an opportunity to distribute food, water and medical supplies. The Marines and sailors with Task Force Mech have also provided medical care to the local Iraqis

Photo by Cpl. Shawn M. Coolman

Tanks supply area with medical attention

15 Dec 2008 | Cpl. Shawn M. Coolman

Amidst the array of Coalition force operations in the area, medical attention is still offered to the Iraqi populace by Task Force Mech, Regimental Combat Team 5.

Task Force Mech is comprised of Marines and sailors with Company A, 2nd Tank Battalion in conjunction with elements of Company B, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn., and 1st Combat Engineer Bn., which are both assisting tanks with various missions in al-Anbar province.

Conducting security patrols and interacting with the local Iraqi civilians have afforded the service members an opportunity to distribute food, water and medical supplies.  The Marines and sailors with Task Force Mech have also provided medical care to the local Iraqis.

During one mission, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jorge E. Burgos, the senior line corpsman with Company A, noticed a young Iraqi girl in pain while seeing other Iraqi patients.

“We were patrolling in our area of operations (near Rutbah, Iraq,) and we spotted a caravan of trucks which turned out to be all sheep herders,” said Burgos, 45, who is from Cali, Columbia. “We then stopped the caravan and began asking them questions.

“After we completed our questioning, we began asking them if they needed any medical care.

“They said they had several people sick, and after I treated nine Iraqis, one in particular caught my attention,” said Burgos, who is on his fifth deployment to Iraq. “There was a little 6 year-old girl with 3rd degree burns on her right leg with an advanced stage of infection.

“The burn was from the lower part of her knee all the way around down to her ankle,” Burgos added. “Her burn was caused when she accidentally turned over a cooking pot of boiling water on herself.

“Her leg was wrapped in just a cloth when I saw her, and when I saw that situation, I asked the girl’s father, through an interpreter, to hold her very tight,” continued Burgos. “The reason for that was because I needed to clean her and remove the dead skin and infection.  I cleaned the leg with sterilized water and applied medication for pain as well as two different antibiotic ointments.

“I explained to the girls’ father that he needs to clean the leg several times daily. I provided him with enough supplies to do so and medications to keep further infections from happening until they can get to a medical facility in Baghdad.

“The father was so pleased that he gave me a hug and kiss,” said Burgos. “My reward was to see her beautiful smile.

“Providing the Iraqis with medical and essential supplies in remote and isolated places makes the Iraqis very pleased with the Coalition forces and makes them feel safe and better protected,” said Burgos. “We are here to help them in any way we can.”

Although this instance of humanitarian assistance was isolated, the Marines and sailors here have treated many other Iraqis with varying illnesses. These acts of kindness have made the locals trust the service members more and have literally opened doors for the Marines and sailors of Task Force Mech.

“I think giving the Iraqis medical care is paramount because giving them medical care helps them to welcome us into their homes right away,” said Seaman Travis N. Cowan, 22, a corpsman from San Diego with RCT-5 who accompanied Task Force Mech during a recent mission.


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