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Sailor proves self under fire, recalls incident

By Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr. | | January 18, 2008

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Working in a combat environment can be stressful, but when responding under fire, one Navy hospital corpsman in Afghanistan keeps his cool.

 Petty Officer 1st Class Reynaldo S. Datu, a 42-year-old assigned to embedded training team 7-2, has been in several combat situations since arriving in country. His confidence in his Marines has helped him respond without hesitation.

 Originally from the Philippines who now calls San Diego home, Datu provides medical care for ETT 7-2 and is a mentor to the doctor and medics of 3rd Kandak (Armored), 3rd Brigade, 201st Afghan National Army Corps.

 A few days after he and his team arrived from Okinawa, Japan, they were sent to join the ANA in Operation Nowruz Jala (New Year Hail) in Kapisa Province. Datu found himself in Bedrob Valley, where he quickly put his skills and experience to use treating a wounded soldier.

 He remembered yelling to Marine Sgt. Kurt V. Dugger, who was in the team’s Humvee gunner’s turret, to watch for rocket propelled grenades.

 “Sgt. Dugger said, ‘there’s a downed soldier in the kill zone, he needs some help,’” Datu recalled. “I remember I grabbed my (medical) bag ... I said something like, ‘cover me.’”

 Datu then headed for the wounded soldier.

 “Doc ran out under fire and dragged an ANA soldier out (of the kill zone) to treat him,” said Marine 1st Sgt. Matthew S. Seamans, a Shorewood, Minn., native and the senior enlisted mentor with ETT 7-2.

 He assessed the soldier’s injuries and determined he had a bullet wound from an AK-47 round.

 “I got one of my bandages and slapped it on him,” Datu said. “I told him to stay put.”

 The Humvee pulled up to Datu and the soldier once the team gained fire superiority at the scene.

 His trust in the team made it easy for him to respond to the situation.

 “There was no doubt in my mind that Sgt. Dugger would do his job and cover me,” Datu explained. “So I was confident … I could do mine. I heard the (M240 machine gun) and I felt safe.”

 The injured soldier was safely evacuated from the scene, and Datu and his team made it safely through the operation.

 “That was a very tense situation, but we were calm,” Datu said.

 The Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran said it was the first time in his 18 plus years of Navy service that he had been in a firefight, but he has since seen more combat situations while in Afghanistan.

 His experiences and responsiveness to his duties has led to the ETT’s belief in Datu.

 “I can always count on him,” said Marine Lt. Col. James F. Werth, ETT officer in charge. “Doc’s the consummate team player, which is real important to our training team.”


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