Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kevin D. Baskin, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman assigned to 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, was recently awarded the Silver Star Medal for combat actions in Afghanistan.
Baskin earned the medal -- the third-highest military decoration for valor –- after saving the lives of four members of his unit.
During a 2013 deployment, his team came under fire in Kushe village. Disregarding his own safety, Baskin ran through accurate enemy fire and provided aid to a wounded teammate. He stabilized and loaded the casualty into the evacuation vehicle shortly before being shot in the back by an enemy combatant.
Baskin’s award citation reads, “Although wounded, he continued treating casualties while refusing medical treatment for his own injuries. Under intense fire, while simultaneously directing the evacuation of the wounded Marines, partner forces and himself, he laid down suppressive fire until every team member had evacuated the kill zone. His actions ultimately saved the lives of four of his teammates.”
A Call to Duty
Baskin was born in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, but grew up in nearby Hatfield, where he graduated from North Penn Senior High School in 2005. He reported one year later to the Navy’s Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois.
After recruit training, Baskin attended medical training at Field Medical Training Battalion West at Camp Pendleton, California. He said he knew very quickly he wanted to serve with Marines. Soon after his training at FMTB, Baskin was selected for and completed the special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman training program.
Baskin was later assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion and soon found himself on his first deployment to Afghanistan. His tour was cut short after five months into the deployment when fragmentation from a rocket-propelled grenade pierced his body. He was medically evacuated to the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, where he worked for eight months while recuperating.
Eager to get back in the fight, Baskin left Maryland, attended the six-month Amphibious Reconnaissance Independent Duty Corpsman course, and then requested a temporary assignment back to 2nd MSOB for another deployment to Afghanistan in 2013.
Back in the Fight
On April 25th, 2013, Baskin’s team set out on the mission to Kushe village. He said he prepared himself for the mission like he always did.
“To be mentally prepared for missions you have to be physically ready first,” said Baskin. “I would prep my gear until I was comfortable knowing I had all of my mission essential equipment.” He said he would also double-check all of the details about the mission, including what the primary and alternate routes were, what the structures in the area looked like, and all contingency plans.
Baskin said when the team reached one of their checkpoints that April day, they started taking sporadic fire and identified two separate groups moving into fighting positions. As time went on, the rate of fire increased and they were pinned down behind a cemetery wall.
“Another teammate ran to our position with the 60 mm mortar and started sending rounds down range,” Baskin said. “When he ran out of rounds for the 60, he left the cemetery to another wall about 50 meters in front of us. When he looked up to try and suppress the enemy, he was shot.”
Baskin rushed to his teammate’s side and provided desperately needed aid. Even after he was shot in the back, Baskin continued treating other casualties. Major Gen. Joseph L. Osterman, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, presented the medal to Baskin and spoke on his character.
“If you look across battlefields throughout history, there is always that one ringing slogan that you see and hear throughout and that is, ‘Corpsman up!’” Osterman said. “[Baskin] went forward without thought of himself, to the point of protecting his fellow Marines with his own body. From a personal perspective, I appreciate who he is as a man, from how he takes care of his family to the quiet professional that he epitomizes.”
Baskin accepted the award, he said, on behalf of the men he was serving with at the time and for those who continue to serve.
“I am proud to be receiving an award like this,” he said. “I felt like I was just doing my job ... what anyone else on the team would have done if put into the situation. It’s a very surreal feeling.”