Portsmouth Corpsman Returns from IA Deployment as a Patient
By MC2 Riza Caparros and Deborah Kallgren, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Public Affairs
NAVAL MEDICAL CENTER PORTSMOUTH, Va. - For a year and a half, Hospital Corpsman Seaman Angelo Anderson worked in the Infectious Disease Clinic at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Little did he expect when he deployed to Afghanistan as an individual augmentee that he would return to the medical center as a patient.
Anderson, 21, now rests somewhat comfortably in his hospital bed. Just days ago, he was on the other side of the world in Helmand Province. Then on July 2, he was shot twice, and his injuries serious enough to warrant his return home. He was airlifted to Camp Dwyer, then to Landstuhl, Germany, on to Andrews Air Force Base and ultimately to Portsmouth. Transfusions, wound care, physical therapy, and family and friends are aiding in his recovery.
Anderson arrived at NMCP in October 2008 and soon began talking to Senior Chief Corpsman Woodie J. Wunstell, senior enlisted leader for Department of Medical Services, about deploying. Wunstell had served with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines in Afghanistan and was happy to share his experiences with Anderson.
“He was a superstar. He was Sailor of the Quarter for the fourth quarter. He only wanted to deploy,” Wunstell said.
An IA slot came up earlier this year and Anderson left to train at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He arrived at his assignment with the 3/6 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in March. Soon after, he transitioned to the duties of a line corpsman and accompanied U.S. Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers on foot patrols throughout the province.
Anderson recalled the day of his injury. “The patrol that day was smooth. We had been walking quite a ways and nothing happened. Things were pretty quiet in the area lately and we had gone out with the intentions to talk to the locals and make sure they were benefiting with our presence there, and to see what more we can do to help.”
Out of nowhere, the patrol came under attack. Anderson was shot – once in the shoulder and once in the thigh. He was soon medevaced out of the region, and on his way back to Portsmouth nearly two months before his deployment was scheduled to end.
“July 2nd my life changed forever,” said Angela Anderson, his mother. “I got the call and immediately planned to go to him.”
She left her home in Georgia and arrived at NMCP on July 8. She is staying at the Fisher House, the command’s home away from home for the families of seriously ill or injured patients receiving treatment at the medical center.
“I am a strong mom,” she continued. “I will be his back bone, his brain, everything he needs me to be and I will pray next to him and with him while he is recovering so he may hopefully one day have a full life again.”
While acknowledging that the quality of care is always top notch at Portsmouth, Anderson added that everyone at the medical center has been beyond helpful.
“I haven’t wanted or needed for anything,” he said.
Mom agreed. “All he has to do is breathe,” she said with a chuckle.
Wunstell added, “I’ve talked to him every day since he’s been back. He’s doing extremely well under the circumstances. He’s definitely a dedicated and mature 21 year old. I think he’ll do great.”
While in Afghanistan, Anderson earned the Fleet Marine Force Warfare Insignia, a military badge issued to naval personnel who are trained and qualified to perform duties in support of the United States Marine Corps Wunstell pinned Anderson July 9 in a ceremony held in the ward where he is recuperating. He was surrounded by family, friends and co-workers. Even his brother, Dré, stationed with the Air Force in California, skyped in for the ceremony.