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Face of Defense: Corpsman Helps Marja’s Elderly

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Walter Marino
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2010 – After an eight-hour post, Navy Seaman Vince Edward Chu Lo, a corpsman for 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, finally reached his long-awaited sleeping bag.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Seaman Vince Edward Chu Lo, a corpsman with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, gives medical treatment to a resident of Marja, Afghanistan, March 7, 2010. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Walter Marino
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

But moments after he sat down, someone shouted, “Doc Lo!” and the corpsman knew it was back to business.

When he answered the call, Lo was relieved to find that no Marines were injured. Two elderly residents of Marja, Afghanistan, had minor injuries and needed his help, which the corpsman was happy to provide.

Lo said watching his mother, a nurse, give medical treatment to underprivileged people while he was growing up in Lawang City, Philippines, provided inspiration for his current job.

"You always grow up wanting to be like your mom or dad. I’m a momma’s boy," Lo said.

Through a translator, Lo discovered that the two Afghans were Abdoul Kayoom, 60, and Aji Mohamad Sharij, 58. Kayoom had knee injuries, and Sharij experienced complications with his vision.

Lo inspected their injuries and concluded they would need inpatient treatment at a hospital. Meanwhile, he chose to help them with the limited tools he had.

"As a combat corpsman, we don’t have the equipment for those problems,” he explained. “But I just tried to help them with what I had. I grew up in a Third World country. For me, helping another person is a good thing."

Grabbing a bandage from his medical bag, Lo began wrapping Kayoom’s knees, making a makeshift knee brace on both legs to reduce the pressure on the joints. For Sharij, Lo gave medicated drops to relieve his eye pain, and foot cream for what he suspected to be a case of athlete’s foot.

After Lo’s work was done, the translator was not needed. The smiles and handshakes by Sharij and Kayoom said it all.

"We are very thankful for what our new friend did for us," Sharij said.

For Lo, just knowing he had helped others made his day.

"When I helped them, it reminded me of what my mom used to do, and [it] made me happy, even if it was a simple thing,” he said, adding that he plans to continue to learn all he can to be a better corpsman.

Senior corpsmen in his battalion recognize his efforts.

"He’s proficient in what he does, because he takes this seriously and tries to improve,” said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Guerwin E. Weeks. “He’s willing to ask for advice and take advice to be a better corpsman. On my other two deployments, I would have loved to have him."

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Walter Marino serves with the 1st Marine Division’s Regimental Combat Team 7 public affairs office.)

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