News: Connecticut corpsman receives Silver Star for heroism in Afghanistan
Story by Cpl. Walter D. Marino II
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Petty Officer 3rd Class Todd Angell received one of the nation’s highest military awards for valor, the Silver Star, for his heroism in Afghanistan as a corpsman with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division.
Cpl. Brandon Rumbaugh, a close friend of Angell’s and a Marine whose life he helped save in Afghanistan, pinned the medal on the Bethel, Conn., native during a ceremony April 27.
Rumbaugh, a Uniontown, Pa., native, became a double amputee after stepping on an improvised explosive device. Angell was one of the service members who rushed to his aid and started him on intravenous fluids and medication.
“One of the hardest (casualties) I worked on was Rumbaugh; he was one of the most unstable casualties I had. He was actually less stable than a kid I treated with a gunshot wound to the head,” said Angell. “I did everything I could, but I didn’t know if it was enough. Having him pin me meant the world to me. Just to have Rumbaugh alive to pin me, that’s more than any Silver Star or any medal.”
Rumbaugh wasn’t the only one Angell saved during his tour in Afghanistan. Angell risked his life on many occasions to save others because he said, “If that means being hurt on the way, so be it.”
During one incident Oct. 12, 2010, Angell took a Marine fire team and unknowingly ran more than 500 meters through an IED hotspot to provide immediate care for Marines injured by IEDs, rather than wait for vehicles to navigate the difficult terrain in the area.
“I just grabbed my gear and just ran. It was a long run, probably the longest run of my life. I was pretty broke off by the time I got up there,” said Angell.
Another incident Nov. 8, 2010, involved the treatment of an Afghan National Army soldier who stepped on an IED. Angell was following a Marine handling a minesweeper to get to the wounded soldier when the Marine struck an IED. Angell assessed the Marine’s injury before moving toward the soldier, where he applied tourniquets to both amputated legs, administered intravenous fluids and stabilized the soldier. As he was treating the soldier, an explosive ordnance disposal Marine working onsite also struck an IED, receiving minor blast injuries. After treating the three injured men and ensuring the safe evacuation of the soldier, a firefight broke out, resulting in a local resident being shot in the head. Angell treated the civilian promptly and saved his life.
Angell wasn’t done yet. On Dec. 20, 2010, it was his combat skills that shined. During a firefight, Angell killed two insurgents at distances up to 400 meters. As the firefight continued, Angell also acted as the assistant mortar gunner. By the end of the day, he had fired 17 mortar rounds at enemy positions.
“I don’t see Doc Angell as a corpsman,” said Cpl. James D. Freeman, a rifleman and a native of Woodberry, Tenn., who spent the latter half of his deployment in Angell’s platoon. “He’s just another Marine who knows how to fix people better than we can.”
Angell’s platoon leader said he also felt he was one of the best corpsman he’s seen in his 17 years in the Marine Corps.
“Doc Angell is a constant professional; they broke the mold with that guy,” said Staff Sgt. Ysidro R. Gonzalez, Angell’s platoon sergeant during the deployment. “Doc Angell never hesitated under fire, and I believe that his devotion and dedication to his Marines is what drove him in the eyes of the enemy to perform the way he did. He never once thought of himself; he always thought of his Marines, no matter what was on their collar, and for the Afghans as well. I just can’t say enough good things about that kid.”
The ceremony brought out many different emotions from fellow service members in attendance, but the most commonplace was pride.
“It made me feel very proud of that kid. I’m very proud of him and proud to know him and (to) have been a small paragraph in Doc Angell’s life,” said Gonzales, a San Diego native. “The only other way I can describe it is like a father watching his son graduate (recruit training) or something. Doc Angell is a great American; he saved a lot of lives. Everybody always talks bad about the kids of this generation, your youth and all that, and how they don’t measure up to everything else, but whoever says those things have never seen a young man like Doc Angell in combat.”
Marines in Angell’s squad describe him as confident in his medical abilities, a people person, and, most importantly, someone who made them feel safe on patrol.
“I’d say Doc Angell was there for me every time we stepped outside the wire. He loved to take care of his Marines,” said Lance Cpl. Timothy J. Hagem, a mortarman in Angell’s platoon during the deployment. “When he came up and helped Rumbaugh out, I was there for that. I’d say it was a combination of his duty and love of his Marines. Yes, he knew he had to do his job as a corpsman, but he had the drive of like, ‘I’m not just doing this as a corpsman, I’m doing this because these guys are my friends. Yeah, I want come home, but I want to see these guys come home just as much.’ If you love that person who’s hurt, you’re going to get there no matter what, and Doc Angell and Rumbaugh are real close.”
Angell acted with complete disregard for his own personal safety, and his actions are a testament to his devotion to the Marines he served, but he humbly attributes his successes to those around him.
"This is not an individual award," said Angell. "Even though it was awarded to me, this is for all of my Marines; because they did their jobs, I was able to do mine."