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Corpsman committed to serving others

AKASHAT, Iraq (March 9, 2008) -- A little Iraqi girl cried from the pain caused by chemical burns from an accident in her home that covered her chest, shoulder and the left side of her face.


March 9, 2008; Submitted on: 03/20/2008 09:46:37 AM ; Story ID#: 200832094637
By Lance Cpl. Paul Torres, 1st Marine Division

The little girl and her father had been on their way to the clinic in Akashat, Iraq, March 9 when their vehicle was held up at a traffic control point. The father approached the Marines to let them know that he needed help.

“We got a call from the commanding officer that we had a little girl who may have been severely hurt,” said Seaman Joshua Silvia, 20, from Cranston R.I., who is a corpsman with Blue Platoon, Company H, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5.

Silvia did what corpsmen are trained to do: he took care of his patient.

“First I had to remove all the blood with water, which put her in a lot of pain,” said Silvia. “I had the interpreter keep telling her she would be OK.”

Silvia then applied burn gel to her arms and face and bandaged them to help prevent infection. After Silvia bandaged the girl’s burns, her father took her to the clinic in Akashat for further treatment.

Silvia’s commitment to his job as a corpsman attached to an infantry unit is evident to the Marines around him

“He likes doing the ground work,” said Lance Cpl. James D. Lilly, 19, from Lakeland Fla., who is a TOW gunner with Blue Platoon, Company H. “He is one of the coolest corpsmen I know.”

Silvia, or “Doc Silvia,” joined 3rd LAR a few months before they deployed to the Al Anbar province of Iraq. His New England accent and ever present smile are a constant source of levity.

Whether he is doing his impersonation of Steve Irwin observing the living habits of non-commissioned officers or justifying his fear of horses, there is rarely a dull moment.

“Overall, I like being on the Marine side of things because I like to meet a lot of different people from different places,” said Silvia.

One of the most memorable people Silvia has met in Iraq was an old farmer who was sick.

“I just gave him some cough drops and he was so thankful he made like he was going to hug me, and then he kissed me on the lips,” said Salvia as the Marines around him laughed.

It is often said that laughter is the best medicine, and Doc Silvia seems to be generous with the prescriptions.