Editor’s note: Special thanks to Anthony Bunkley (SARC) for compiling the information in this article and providing all the photos.

It is mid-summer in the green zone of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, where coalition forces have been regularly combating the Taliban in the heart of enemy territory. The enemy fights with the utmost tenacity because the land, the Helmand River, and its bright red poppy fields yield a major revenue stream for their crusade via opium production and sales.

A Marine Special Operations detachment is conducting village stability operations (VSO) in support of the overarching counter-insurgency mission. While patrolling through a small village, the Marines stop to speak with villagers about an observed lack of a civilian presence, when suddenly they begin taking effective fire instantaneously from several nearby compounds.

The detachment immediately begins returning fire and moves into the compound of the local villager they had just been conversing with. Priorities of work begin, and fighting positions are taken on the roof. Just as everyone is peeling into the compound to re-orient and push back the fighters, an RPG hits the front entrance of the compound, and an ANA (Afghan National Army) Commando takes fragmentation to the face.

The gunfight intensifies dramatically, and while engaging targets from the roof of the compound, the Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman/Special Operations Independent Duty Corpsman (SARC/SOIDC) hears a Marine speak over the radio,

“Doc, we have one Commando casualty who suffered an RPG blast injury. He has a major frag to the face, and he’s having difficulty breathing. I’ve put him on his side to prevent him from choking on his blood and done a full body sweep; there are no additional visible injuries. We’re currently using a bandage to slow the bleeding.”

The SARC responds with, “Roger. En route. Establish and monitor vitals, and maintain the patient’s airway. Can you send someone up to the roof to relieve me? Tell them to bring extra ammo and a LAAW, if possible.

Understand all. Out.” is the reply from the Marine.