Doc was the combat medic for 1st Platoon, 55th Engineer Company, 5th Engineer Battalion. He was a 23 year old, gentle giant from Alabama with an calm demeanor and a way of putting everyone around him at ease. I was his first platoon leader and I remember liking him from the day he showed up. No matter how long the mission had been, Doc was always ready to take care of his Soldiers’ needs. As fortune would have it, I promoted and moved to another position out of the company, but still ran into my Soldiers including Doc from time to time.
About a month before the end of our 15-month Iraq tour in 2008-2009, I ran into Doc at the HHC TOC. He had sustained a non-combat injury and hadn’t been able to go on mission for the previous week. All he could talk about was getting back outside the wire with the platoon, as he trusted no one to take care of them like he could. We spoke about heading home in a few weeks and how he couldn’t wait to see his 5 year old son. As we parted, I told him to take care of our men and keep his head down. A week later, the battalion PA came by to let me know that Doc had been hit. He was on a route-clearance patrol with the platoon, riding in an MRAP, when a worthless, cowardly insurgent stepped out of a crowd in a market and hit his vehicle with an armor-piercing grenade. Doc was the only one in the vehicle who got hit. He had a love for life and was a fighter who never gave up, but knowing him, he would have wanted to be the one to get hit rather than losing any of his Soldiers. The loss of him not only took a great medic from the platoon and stole a father from his son, but deprived our nation of a warrior and a patriot.
CPT Michael S. Pierce