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Healing hands, fighting spirit: Heroic medic first responder for Combined Task Force Arrowhead

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“Medic!” - a shout often depicted in war movies, and often heard on the battlefield. To those at home watching, it is a sign that something bad has happened, but for Spc. Enrique Avila, it is a call to action.

Avila has been serving as the combat medic for 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, Task Force 1-23 Infantry and is now nearing the end of his year-long deployment. In that time he has treated nearly 30 casualties on the battlefield.

“Though the platoon itself hasn’t taken a lot of casualties, we have had to deal with a lot of them,” Avila said.

The 25-year-old Army specialist and Stockton, Calif., native has seen some of the worst things war can throw at a person.

“The first time I treated a casualty was crazy, he was a triple amputee and I was nowhere near prepared for that,” said Avila, when speaking about treating a member of the Afghan Local Police.

“The first few months were crazy because I had never seen anything like that before, except in training videos, but after my first incident I knew what to expect,” said Avila.

The young medic has been the first responder on almost every quick reaction force call the company responded to and also treated several civilians during the course of his deployment.

“There have been times when we have gotten into gunfights and the enemy will shoot rocket-propelled grenades at us, and often we end up treating local nationals who have been hurt in the crossfire,” said Avila. “They will take shrapnel from the RPGs and after the fight we see the locals coming to us for help.”

Though faced with some of the worst of war, Avila demonstrates a strong sense of resiliency.

“They did a pretty good job in my Advanced Individual Training of preparing us for combat,” said Avila. “Deploying is pretty much what I expected it would be. I may miss my family, but this is the job I chose to do and I can’t complain about it.”

When asked how he handles stress Avila spoke on the strength and bonds between him and his fellow soldiers.

“I think the whole platoon keeps each other strong. We have a lot of support for one another and I feel we have grown pretty close,” said Avila. “Any time I need to talk about something and am feeling down, I know I can talk to them.”

Avila will soon be returning home to his wife and two children, where he hopes to continue both his career and education.

“Joining the Army was something I wanted to do for a long time,” said Avila. “I plan on being a medic for a long time and hopefully one day going into med school.”

Article by Spc. Nevada Jack Smith, 117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment