News: Medical officer awarded Bronze Star for lifesaving actions
Story by Pfc. Sullivan Laramie
CAMP LEJEUNE. N.C. - “Person to be decorated, front and center!”
Navy Lt. Wilfredo L. Lucas, the operations officer for 2nd Medical Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, marched out in front of his battalion and stood at attention.
Brig. Gen. Edward D. Banta, the commanding general of 2nd MLG, stepped in front of Lucas moments later, congratulated him and pinned a Bronze Star Medal to his chest during an award ceremony here, April 24, 2013.
“It was a humbling experience,” said Lucas, a Bowie, Md., native. “You never go out thinking you’re doing things for an award. You just go thinking that you’re out there for a mission.”
From December 2011 to December 2012, Lucas served as the senior medical advisor for 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army, or ANA. His mission was to decrease the dependence the ANA’s medical system had on United States and Coalition forces in Delaram District, Afghanistan.
“We started out from scratch with the ANA’s healthcare delivery system,” said Lucas. “There was no guidance. When I reported to the 2nd Brigade, they had doctors but lacked the knowledge and training to deal with the casualties.”
The ANA doctors sent almost 90 percent of their patients to Forward Operating Base Delaram’s shock trauma platoon, or STP, and regimental aid station, or RAS. Seventy percent of their patients were local nationals.
“They lacked confidence in treating patients,” Lucas said. “We’re talking [about] the regular sick call patients to the emergency patients. We basically forced them [to see patients], because eventually the STP did leave and it was my goal to have them totally independent within six months.”
Under the guidance of Lucas and his staff, 100 percent of the patients received by the ANA doctors were seen and treated by Afghan physicians. Their hard work and persistence gave the ANA more independence from outside assistance and empowered the Afghans to take more control during the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Lucas earned the Bronze Star for his actions during the deployment, which resulted in the treatment of approximately 1,800 patients, and included more than 260 lifesaving procedures.
“I don’t see this affecting me at all, because it’s just the way I’ve been through my whole career,” said Lucas. “You just do your best and try your best because it’s what is expected of you. It’s just about knowing that you’re giving 100 percent.”