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Hospital Corpsman | Fleet Marine Force


Every evening between five and six, I Company watched from their trenches as the Chinese across the valley worked in their own fortifications, always leaving with empty A frames and always busy.  Occasionally a few mortar or artillery rounds would crash down, but generally the days were quiet, thick with heat, and long.  The Marines did the same to stay busy - reinforcing their bunkers and trenches, digging wider and deeper, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes from orders, and sometimes simply out of boredom.

Just over an hour after the scheduled Chinese work began, a sniper opened up and bullets cracked by the men casually standing while they worked.  Joe would not have been bothered by the stray rounds, except for the immediate cry for a corpsman.  He scrambled and dashed towards the call for help.

Seeing his wounded platoon member some distance away, he sprinted from his bunker to his side and began assessing the nature of his gunshot wound when he doubled over from a flaming pain that surged through his entire body.  Then he heard the two shots echo in quick succession.  The same sniper who shot Ralph Rebman had put two bullets through his left arm, stomach and his right leg.  The other Marines insisted on evacuating both men, but Joe refused.  Ralph's shot in his chest left him mortally wounded and Joe was determined to help him.  A few platoon members came to their aid and he instructed them while they assisted in treating Rebman.

After he was finally evacuated, only then did the stubborn corpsman slump back and accept treatment and evacuation himself.  He left the barren hill in Kwakch'on on a litter, hands sticky with the blood of a friend, and a trench littered with torn open medical packets, blood stained bandages trampled in the dust, and a platoon mourning the departure of a beloved corpsman.  Joe may have never found out that Ralph Rebman died shortly after evacuation from that fatal gunshot wound, despite Joe's courageous effort in saving him.  For Joe, his wounds sent him home, and with one year of service left he planned on returning to college and pursing a career in police work after his discharge.

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