The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff recognised combat medics, corpsmen and pararescuemen during the 10th annual Armed Services YMCA Angels on the Battlefield Gala on 4 November. The gala honoured medics, corpsmen and pararescuemen who demonstrated extraordinary courage while administering life-saving medical treatment and trauma care on the battlefield.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said the five men honoured represent thousands of medical professionals across the services who place themselves in danger to protect and care for others. The five men -- Air Force Tech. Sgt Cody C. Inman, Army Sgt 1st Class Daniel Lopez-Bonaglia, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Ransom, Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas P. Otazo, and Seaman Elgie McCoy – received the Angels on the Battlefield for their courage, professionalism and compassion.
Dunford reminded the audience, which included military officers, NCOs, veterans and family members, that even as the gala was going on, more than 275,000 American service members are deployed forward standing guard, many in dangerous areas. “They are taking the fight to the enemy,” he said. Dunford added that medics, corpsmen and pararescuemen are an important part of that force. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen know that if they are wounded on the battlefield, the medical professionals who accompany each unit has their back: “They know if something should happen that they will receive world-class medical care, and they know that corpsmen, medics and pararescuemen will be right by their sides.”
The chairman noted that three weeks ago marked the 15th anniversary of the start of combat operations in Afghanistan. “That milestone came and went without much attention in the press, but reflecting on it, one of the things that struck me is how many advancements we’ve made in military medical care, and how much we depend on those who care for the wounded, ill and injured.”
Advances like the junctional tourniquet, better more realistic training and placing surgical teams forward has been transformational Dunford said: “The results of our advancements are clear. Today, more than 96 percent of those wounded in combat survive.” But statistics only show so much, he said, citing cases of medics treating casualties while still under fire – shielding their compatriots with their own bodies, of corpsmen running into burning vehicles to rescue those hit and then performing life-saving procedures, and of pararescuemen, wounded themselves, ignoring their pain to work on others.