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Old 12-24-2003, 06:07 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool Recon Marines assist injured comrade

Recon Marines assist injured comrade
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification Number: 2003122151918
Story by Lance Cpl. Ryan Walker

TERNATE, Philippines -- "When I watched him fall, my heart stopped. You want to do so much but you can't. It didn't look good when we first got down there, but his composure helped me keep my composure," said Cpl. Stephen A. Bushay, Deep Reconnaissance Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.

In a joint training exercise between 3rd Recon Bn. and Filipino Force Reconnaissance Marines during Talon Vision `03, Sgt. Kelby B. Price, DRP, 3rd Recon Bn, fell nearly sixty feet during a recon training exercise Oct. 12.

"We went on patrol to set-up on an observation post that we had surveillance on for three days. We completed our mission and were moving to extract, but before we could move out we had to link up with another recon team," Bushay said.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. communication was set up, and movement to the extraction point began at 9:00 p.m. They were only a couple of hundred meters away.

"Although the map showed that there were no steep drop-offs and it was a smooth decline to the beach, the terrain around Ternate can be very unforgiving," Bushay said.

They started movement with a Filipino Marine as point man and Price as the navigator. The Filipino Marine became nervous because of the loose ground and darkness of the night, so Price took control.

"We came down to a cliff, which was pretty steep with loose rocks, so Price halted the patrol. He and Sgt. John S. Mosser, reconnaissance team leader, assessed the situation and estimated the height. We then prepared sling ropes to rappel," Bushay said. "Price removed his rucksack and proceeded to climb down the cliff with his 782 gear and weapon. He said `I'm the point man; I go first.'"

In the side of the cliff was a protrusion that obstructed the view and feel of the rope. It was difficult for Price to determine if the rope's length was sufficient.

"As he rappelled down he didn't think it was long enough and realized that the rest of the team would have a difficult time descending down, so he headed back up. As he started to get close to the top he started to lose grip on the rope. The edge of the cliff had a steep incline, so Mosser and I formed a human chain. Mosser tried grabbing for Price's hands, but they were just missing each other. So, we called for more guys to get down to the cliff. That's when Price fell," Bushay said.

They immediately organized a team comprised of six U.S. and Filipino Marines to locate him. They couldn't get down at the same spot, so they moved south along the ridge.

"Mosser and I got down there first and located where he was. He was face down with a rock on top of his legs, but he called out to us. Price was alert and verbal, so I kept talking to him to keep his mind off things. He kept talking about his job and how much he loved it," said Bushay. "His chief complaints were back pain, trouble breathing, and he couldn't feel his body below his sternum."

They rolled the rock off his legs and assessed his back and neck to make sure there were no spinal injuries. At that time they located a large bump in his back. The team then moved him to level ground, placed a C-collar around his neck to stabilize it, and put him on a backboard to await transportation by Zodiac.

"The Filipino Marines were eager to help out with anything they could," said
Bushay. "They got water for him and cleared a path to the beach."

Price was transported three kilometers by Zodiac to be loaded into a truck and transported to a landing zone where he was airlifted to a hospital in Manila. Since then he has received medical treatment at U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa, and is currently at Naval Medical Center, San Diego. Soon he will be admitted to a rehabilitation clinic in La Hoya, Calif.

"This was a non-tactical injury, but the Marines still maintained their professionalism even though bullets weren't flying at them," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class, Anthony J. Shattuck, corpsman, Deep Reconnaissance Platoon. "A lot of common sense occurred that night, (which is) something we've developed into our training."

Recon Marines are trained by corpsman for emergency medical treatment. It's part of their training because of the high level of intensity in their occupational field.

"You don't have to be a corpsman to attend to someone," said Capt. Matthew T. Schramm, platoon commander, DRP. "Because of Bushay's actions he saved Price's life."

In the fall, Price received extensive spinal column damage, a fractured skull, broken ribs, and a depressed chest, according to Schattuck.

"It went from maybe he can walk, won't, can't, to maybe he'll walk again. The past few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster. Now it's not a question of if he'll come back, it's when," Shattuck said. "Price is a silent professional, he doesn't complain. No matter what happens he will ensure the mission gets done. That's the way he wants it. He cares about his job a lot and won't back down from anything. The fact that he fell 60 ft. and lived says it all."


SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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