Project Hero: Petty Officer 2nd Class Juan M. Rubio, Silver Star Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, May 13, 2006
Every infantry platoon, whether in the Marine Corps or Army, has a special member. Called a corpsman in the Marines or a medic in the Army, they're almost universally known as "Doc". And almost to a man, they're focused on just one thing, seeing to it that the Soldiers and Marines in his unit get the best treatment available should it be necessary. This focus, or calling, is what drives them to sometimes incredible acts of valor in order to care for those who need them.
“I couldn’t have done the things I did without knowing that the Marines had my back, giving me security,” Rubio said in a phone interview. “I owe everything to those guys.”
Working at the naval hospital in Bethesda, Md., he aided those injured in the 9-11 Pentagon attack. He then served on the USS Comfort hospital ship, which was sent to New York after the World Trade Center attacks.
He then volunteered to become a corpsman with the Marines, who don’t have medics of their own.
Rubio served with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Afterward, he became the corpsman for 4th Platoon, Small Craft Company, which performed reconnaissance work for the 1st Marine Division. He returned to Iraq in 2004.
On Jan. 1, 2005, Rubio’s platoon was ambushed on the Euphrates River. The Marines left their boats and pursued the attackers, only to have an explosive set off nearby.
Rubio and three Marines were wounded. Despite having shrapnel wounds in his legs and arms, Rubio belly-crawled to the injured Marines and treated their injuries. He then dragged each of them across open terrain, under fire, to safety behind a wall.
He showed the uninjured Marines how to care for the wounded troops and then began directing covering fire while he helped take the wounded back to the boats.
“Your actions saved lives and you have set an example for future corpsmen and Marines to emulate,” wrote Maj. Gen. R.F. Natonski, who wrote a letter endorsing the medal. “Your service is coveted by each and every Marine in the 1st Marine Division.”
One Marine died that day, Lance Cpl. Brian Parrello. Rubio believes Parrello saved his life.
“He took a big chunk of artillery,” Rubio said. “He absorbed 90 percent of the explosion for me. I owe my life to him.”
I dare say the other Marines would point to PO2 Rubio and claim they owed their lives to his actions. Rubio was in Iraq because he volunteered to serve with the Marines in combat. He didn't have to, but felt called to do so. And while he mourns the death of LCPL Parrello, PO2 Rubio should be proud of what he did that day. The Silver Star is a small reward for his daring, bravery and the care he gave his Marines.
PROJECT HERO is an ongoing attempt to highlight the valor of our military as they fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We constantly hear the negative and far to little of the positive and inspiring stories coming out of those countries. This is one small attempt to rectify that. If you know of a story of valor you'd like to see highlighted here (published on Saturday), please contact us. And we'd appreciate your link so we can spread the word.