By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Clay M. Whaley, NMCSD Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO – A Sailor assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Branch Health Clinic Marine Corps Recruit Depot received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat Distinction for his actions while deployed in Afghanistan April 29. Hospitalman Ernest M. Jimenez was presented the medal with combat distinguishing device by Commander, NMCSD, Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III during an awards ceremony.
The Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat distinction is awarded to Sailors and Marines who distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement or meritorious service, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Navy or U.S. Marine Corps. On Sept. 16, 2010, Jimenez was deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, 1st Marine Division (Forward). The unit was clearing houses in search for insurgents in the southern Green Zone of Sangin, in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, when a squad encountered a deadly ambush initiated by an improvised explosive device (IED) inflicting mass casualties. Jimenez’s squad was standing guard at a nearby location. Jimenez took action, he ran into the building where the IED previously exploded to assist injured service members.
“My training kicked in naturally and I knew exactly what to do,” he said.
With the risk of secondary IEDs still high, Jimenez assembled an aid and liter team and ran into the building while under heavy machine gun fire. He directed the aid and liter team in loading the first two casualties onto stretchers and carried them to the casualty collection point (CCP). Jimenez then directed the Marines to cover his movement with smoke and made another trip back into the building to evacuate the remaining casualties. At the CCP, he triaged the casualties and continually reassessed them in anticipation of their evacuation. He determined the precedence in which each casualty would be evacuated, and after their safe transport he rejoined his fellow Marines in suppressing the enemy.
After Jimenez stabilized his fellow shipmate’s injuries he wondered where they would be sent next for further care.
“I had no idea how they were doing until I returned from deployment to NMCSD and I saw Marines from my squad who were wounded in combat. The hospital staff at NMCSD do amazing things for the recovery of the Marines and Sailors who are wounded from deployment,” said Jimenez. “It’s a relief for me to see that they are doing better.”
For Jimenez’s valiant actions, he was recommended for the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat distinction by the chain of command of 1st Marine Division (Forward).
“Hospitalman Jimenez is a young Sailor and [Hospital] Corpsman that has accomplished a great deal so early, he is extremely motivated and dedicated to NMCSD. He has a great future ahead of him in the United States Navy,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Brian Simpson, Leading Petty Officer, Recruit Processing Career Development Team, Blue Shirt Branch Health Clinic, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Jimenez’s supervisor.
In 2010, 213 service members assigned to NMCSD have received the Navy and Marine Commendation Medal.
“Anytime a corpsman is recognized for going above and beyond it brings a great sense of pride to all of us,’ said Simpson.
Jimenez’s future goals are to complete his degree, become a physician’s assistant and continue his military career in the U.S. Navy.
“Whenever I wear the medal, it’s not going to be for myself; it’s going to be to represent the guys I was helping who gave it all,” said Jimenez.
For more information on NMCSD visit: https://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/Pages/default.aspx