War on Terrorism

Monday, June 11, 2012

Face of Defense: Sailor Serves Country, Saves Lives

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Mark Garcia
Regimental Combat Team 6

FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan, June 11, 2012 – To serve his country, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lamar Jackson decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Growing up, Jackson said, he saw the camaraderie his father shared with his fellow Marines, and he wanted to be a part of that experience.

“Seeing that brotherhood that they had was something I always admired,” said Jackson, a corpsman at the battalion aid station for 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 6.

Jackson said he enlisted as a Navy corpsman because of his admiration for Marines and the desire to do something with his life.

“I also wanted to start getting into the medical field,” the Atlanta native added. “It was the one job that allowed me to do both. I just didn’t want to be in the same place my whole life. I wanted to get out and see different things and experience different things in the world.”

Jackson has been a corpsman for three and a half years. Before enlisting in October 2008, he played college football and worked full-time at a retirement home kitchen.

“When I was in college and I played sports, my teammates and I had close relationships, but it was nothing like the bonds I have with people in Afghanistan,” he said. “You have to trust them with your life, so you grow close to people.”

Jackson has been stationed at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms, both in California, and said he enjoys the high-pressure situations he often faces.

“You’re the guy once everything starts to go south,” Jackson said. “You’re the person everyone’s looking for. I like being in the situation where everyone is counting on you. There was one time some Afghan locals were injured by an improvised explosive device, so we had to provide them with aid and ensure they were stabilized before they were moved anywhere.”

Jackson is on his first deployment, and said it has been a life-changing experience. He recalled experiencing significant culture shock when he arrived in Afghanistan.

“It’s jarring just to see how a piece of candy changes kids’ whole day,” he said. “In America, that’s something we take for granted.”

Jackson said he plans to continue his education once he completes his enlistment. “I plan on going to the University of Southern California once I’m out and [taking] their physician assistant program,” he said. “After that, I’ll get a job in a hospital. Eventually though, I would like to move into the health care administration side of things. It won’t be as much hands-on work. Instead, I’ll be more focused on looking after the doctors and what they’re doing.”

While he misses his friends and family, Jackson said he misses his wife the most, and he focuses on his job to cope with being away.

His daily tasks include ensuring Marines and sailors are physically and mentally healthy, and he also helps Afghans, some of whom have been injured by IED blasts.

“He’s one of the most motivated and dedicated corpsmen,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Burkhart, the assistant leading petty officer at the battalion aid station. “He loves the Navy. He gets the job done. His Marines like him a lot. He’s able to figure out what needs to be done and gets it done without any supervision. I have a lot of trust in him and his abilities.”

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