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U.S. Navy Seaman Samuel L. Blanco
Corpsman Helps Build Trust with Local Iraqis
By Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis
Regimental Combat Team 5

HUSAYBA, Iraq, Sept. 26, 2006 — Navy Seaman Samuel L. Blanco is a healer. The hospital corpsman geared up in layers of body armor has a bag of tricks he carries that’s not just healing the bumps and bruises, scrapes and cuts, but also relations and trust between Americans and local Iraqis.

Blanco provided health care for dozens of Iraqis during a combat patrol with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment through an Iraqi village here Sept. 23.

“From an American view, it gives us a sense of pride to know that Iraqis would come to us,” said Blanco, a 26-year-old from Justin, Texas, assigned to Weapons Company.

He said less than two months ago, Iraqis in this area west of Fallujah were hesitant to even speak to him or the Marines when they first started serving under Regimental Combat Team 5. The mood is changing though. Now, instead of leery stares, parents are bringing their children forward to get a once-over from “Doc” Blanco.

“When they get a serious problem they can come to us,” said Lance Cpl. Paul J. Burns, a mortarman. “They’re starting to get close to us and recognizing the ‘doc.’”

The 22-year-old from Dayton, Ohio, said the locals could pick out the resident medical expert by his calm persona.

“Soon as they found out that I was a ‘doc’ everybody was like, ‘fix me, fix me, bandage,’” Blanco said.

He doesn’t mind it. He said he enjoys contact with the Iraqis.

“Doc’s not afraid to get hands-on with the residents,” said Lance Cpl. Liam E. Izar, a mortarman with Weapons Company.

The 20-year-old gunner from Chardon, Ohio, said it’s great having Blanco around.

“He helps us focus on doing our job,” he said.

One time he helped divert a health concern while Marines continued conducting combat operations. It was a scary

Navy Seaman Samuel L. Blanco, a hospital corpsman, calms and bandages an Iraqi child during a combat patrol in Husayba, Iraq, Sept. 23. He is a 25-year-old assigned to the Marines of Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He provides medical care to the locals so Marines can focus on their mission. Blanco is from Justin, Texas and serves under Regimental Combat Team 5 and will be conducting operations in the Habbaniyah area for seven months. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis
situation for the child in need, but one that left him feeling better and his parents a little more trusting of Marines.

“A guy brought his kid to me to fix,” Blanco said. “He had a bruise with a laceration. The kid was crying and scared to death of me. I fixed him up and he was smiling when we left.”

Blanco cherishes those moments. He said he’s doing what he signed up to do. He’s helping people, no matter nationality or situation. He’s healing bodies and minds.

 “It’s a humbling experience when people depend on you out here,” Blanco said. “It’s very rewarding.”

Blanco said that helping Iraqis is bigger than himself. It’s that one act of common human concern that’s bringing Americans and Iraqis closer.

“It’s good to know that were doing good things for people,” he said. “It puts a good feeling in your heart.”
Last Updated:
09/26/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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