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College football player hangs up helmet for stethoscope

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Dec. 9, 2005) -- It is often said that nothing is given to a Marine — it is figuratively beat into the psyche of every young man and woman who steps on the yellow footprints at the recruit depots in San Diego or Parris Island, S.C., that they are going to have to earn the title “Marine.”


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The eagle, globe and anchor symbol is the most coveted emblem signifying the transformation from civilian to Marine. It doesn’t come easy. Only individuals who have survived the trial by fire in boot camp or Officer Candidates School rate to wear this symbol of the Corps on their uniform.

But there is also a group of Sailors considered so vital to the Marine Corps mission, and so ingrained in Marine Corps history on the battlefield, that they too are authorized to don the eagle, globe and anchor.

These Sailors are called corpsmen, and they are very often the only difference between life and death for a Marine wounded on the battlefield.

“Corpsmen take care of Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Tyler Weed, a 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, administrative clerk and Iraq veteran who witnessed the bravery of hospital corpsmen firsthand in the battle for Fallujah. “They are out there on the front lines with the Marines, putting their lives on the line to save us, if we get shot up. You’d be hard pressed to find a Marine who has served in battle who doesn’t have the highest respect for corpsmen.”

Weed, a Tacoma, Wash., native, said he has the utmost respect for all corpsmen, but noted that Petty Officer 1st Class Tim Gorman stands out above the rest — literally.

Gorman was recently promoted to his present rank through the Navy’s Combat Meritorious Advancement Program as a result of his exemplary service with 1/3 on their last combat deployment.

He also stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs in the neighborhood of 250 pounds, but carries the weight more like a gladiator than the defensive lineman he was during an All-American high school football career that led to a scholarship to the University of Arizona in Tucson, where Gorman played from 1988 to ‘91.

Today, Gorman said he has no regrets about joining the Navy or the long road that led him there, even though many of his teammates at Arizona and players he knew from other teams went on to play in the NFL.

“We moved 11 different times throughout the country, when I was a kid — as a result of my father’s job at IBM,” explained Gorman, who was born in Queens, N.Y., and attended high school for three years in Southern California before moving once again, this time to New Jersey.

“The hardest move was just before my senior year in high school. In California, I was starting to get recruited by some big name schools. We finished the year undefeated, got a lot of media attention, and played all our games on Friday nights in front of 1,300 screaming fans. In New Jersey, we played on Saturday mornings in front of a couple hundred people, mostly just family and friends.”

Despite the change in scenery, Gorman didn’t fall off the radar with the college football scouts and received a visit from Nebraska’s legendary football coach, Tom Osborne, in addition to being courted by other big-name programs such as Oklahoma, USC, Florida and Florida State.

In the end, Gorman signed a letter of intent to play football at Arizona on a full-ride athletic scholarship. During his collegiate career, Gorman played in the Copper Bowl and the Aloha Bowl. A photograph of him raising his helmet in jubilation after he and his fellow Wildcats won a game has become part of Arizona football lore. The photo hangs in the lobby of Tucson’s Embassy Suites Hotel, flanked on both sides by two other illustrious University of Arizona athletes, former NBA All-Star Sean Elliott and former MLB All-Star and gold-glove winner Kenny Lofton.

“It’s crazy, but I really can’t remember what game that photo was taken at,” admitted Gorman. “It was just one of those surreal moments that got captured in time.”

Gorman’s football career ended before he had a chance to test the NFL’s waters, when he was involved in a car accident that nearly took his and the lives of three of his friends.

“It was a miracle none of us got killed,” said Gorman, reflecting on that summer night nearly 15 years ago. “After the crash, I kind of had an epiphany of sorts, and decided I needed to find other things in my life besides football.”

Shortly thereafter, Gorman left school just a few credits shy of his degree in exercise and sports science and embarked on an entrepreneurial career that saw him buy, manage and sell nightclubs all over the country.

“I started moving around a lot, again,” commented Gorman, who mentioned that he still considers Tucson his adopted home, but now subscribes more to the philosophy that home is wherever you hang your hat.

“I got married to Patti — we’ve been married almost 12 years now, and we have a son, Zakkary, 11. We just started investing in and managing all these different clubs, first in Tucson, then in Georgia, then Texas and finally Virginia. After six or seven years of that, I just decided that I’d had enough of the business. I’d always sort of talked about joining the military, and one day I had some Navy brochures laying around that I was looking through. Patti just came up to me and said, ‘Either do it, or don’t do it. Just go down and join right now, or put that stuff away forever.’ So, I went down and joined.”

Nearly 30 at the time, Gorman was one of the oldest recruits at basic training, but was unfazed.

“I’ve always been one to look ahead, not behind,” commented Gorman. “I never got caught up in that, ‘If I’d only joined 10 years earlier, I’d be so much further along in my career right now,’ type mindset that a lot of older Sailors get trapped in. I just said to myself, ‘This is where I’m at now, so make the best of it.’”

And make the best of it he did.

Just five years into his career, Gorman is now holding a rank that often takes longer for the average Sailor to attain.

“I served with HM1 (petty officer first class, hospital corpsman) Gorman in Iraq,” said Navy Lt. Aric Aghayan, 1/3 battalion surgeon and a native of Overland Park, Kan. “His experience, leadership and maturity was a great asset to us over there and continues to be here. He’s an excellent corpsman. You don’t need to look any farther than his promotion through the Combat Meritorious Advancement Program to see that.”

“Plus, he’s one big dude,” added Aghayan, jokingly. “So nobody messes with us.”

According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Darian “Doc” Holiday, a 1/3 hospital corpsman and Iraq veteran, Gorman is one of the most reliable and hardworking corpsmen he has ever seen.

“If he’s not the person to go to, I wouldn’t know who else would be,” admitted the Chinle, Ariz. native. “HM1 Gorman is extremely dependable and can be counted on to be there for the Marines. But he’s also there for the other corpsmen, too, when we need advice.”

According to Gorman, when it comes to giving advice, nobody gives it better than his wife, Patti.

“She’s got that ‘tough love’ thing going on,” chuckled Gorman. “I’m glad for it though. She has supported me throughout our marriage and never more so than during the constant deployments I seem to make.”

Indeed, after receiving orders to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, from his previous duty station at the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Gorman has spent most of his time deployed either aboard ship in Okinawa, Japan, as part of the Unit Deployment Program, or to Iraq. He is currently slated to deploy with 1/3 again on their upcoming combat deployment — this time to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“I volunteered to go to Afghanistan, because taking care of these guys is what I love to do,” said Gorman. “The Marines in 1/3 are amazing. I saw guys get shot in Iraq and then just laugh about it afterwards. I’m talking these Marines are crazy brave. I saw other Marines not let anyone know of their wounds for days so that they could stay with their men. And of course, I saw some Marines die. The level of courage all these Marines possess is hard to fathom sometimes. These men in 1/3 are the bravest of our generation, and wherever they go, I’m gonna go. I’m a corpsman by trade and a Lava Dog by heart.”