The true heroes in the line of fire are the platoon line medics. This may appear a facetious statement on the face of it but if you heard the story of line medics as Angelo J. Vaccaro, 10th Mountain Division, A Company 1/32 Infantry, deployed in the Korengal valley in Afghanistan, you will certainly believe the same. Always a volunteer, Vaccaro participated in over 40 and 100 mounted and dismounted patrols respectively. During many of these he undertook to save the lives of soldiers of his platoon despite being injured himself by his professional competence and devotion to duty. In the third such encounter, he succumbed to the injuries suffered in attempting to evacuate his comrade. It is the standards of medical ethics of Vaccaro, which need to form the epitome of all line medics in the US Army.
The line medic is the first medical defense in combat, who is fully capable of understanding the restorative requirements of a man injured in a fire fight. He can provide him quick first aid, help him to recover consciousness by mouth to mouth resuscitation and then prepare him for evacuation to the battalion aid centre in the rear. He is also the friend and confidant of his peers in the platoon and provides them an ear in distress. Apart from the platoon leader perhaps he is the sheet anchor of the platoon and his competence will reflect on the morale of the sub unit. As the platoon returns from a fire fight, while the soldiers rest, the line medic goes around seeing that the surroundings are hygienic, the water is good and there are no hazards which will endanger his comrades from disease.
This role of significance implies that he has to have very high standards of personal competence without which he would not be able to perform in the challenging circumstances in battle and beyond it. This is related to his ability to provide first aid, resuscitation and evacuation of casualties and providing moral support to his platoon mates. All these are life threatening tasks and any substandardness in the same means that he is risking the lives of his comrades.
1. Newberry, Jerry. (2006). VFW In Afghanistan: A Story About a Real American Hero
Accessed on 8 December 2006 at http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.newsDtl&did=3619