FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan – Critical to the success of the Afghan mission, the Brigade Mentor Team trains and advises the soldiers of the 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, Afghan National Army.
One sailor takes great pride in the role he plays in that mission.
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Green, a corpsman with the BMT, Regimental Combat Team 6, trains ANA medics how to take care of their patients.
“When we have patients come in, we really try to have (the ANA) do the work, and then if it’s necessary, we step in,” said Green, of Macclenny, Fla. “If it’s life threatening injuries, we take over. We mostly let them do what they can, and they actually got real good at (treating patients).”
As with most Americans serving in a mentorship and training role in Afghanistan, Green says one of the hardest things about working with the ANA is the language barrier.
“We have translators, but it’s still kind of hard,” said Green, 25. “Especially with medical stuff when things need to be done real fast, the language barrier can be a problem sometimes. Their lack of medical knowledge at first was a pretty huge barrier too.”
With the challenges also comes pride when progress is made. Green says he enjoys watching the ANA learn and progress.
“When we first got here, they weren’t very knowledgeable and wanted to send everything to the shock trauma platoon,” Green said with a smile. “Now we’ve got them where they actually treat the patients themselves. It’s good knowing that when we leave maybe they can save a few extra lives with the knowledge we’ve gave them.”
Green says he will never forget one of his experiences from this deployment. An elderly Afghan man had been shot in the thigh by a .762 round.
“The guy was old, he walked in with an AK-47 round in his leg.” Green added with emphasis.
Green recalls that the man simply laid down on a bed, pulled his pant leg up and let the medics and corpsman do their job as if nothing was wrong. The medical staff pulled the round out and the ANA cleaned, sutured and wrapped his wound.
“He just stood up put his shoes on and walked right out,” Green added with a sound of astonishment. “He was just the toughest old guy I’ve ever seen. He just walked right out. It was crazy.”
During his time in Afghanistan, Green has built friendships with the ANA medics he helps to train.
“I’ve become close to a few of them actually,” Green added. “I go up to one of them to (joke) around with and give him a friendly push and just say ‘sup man?’ He’ll just look at me and smile, then push me back. He’s a cool guy.”
Before joining the Navy, Green worked different jobs such as delivering pizzas and working for a construction company that remodeled chain restaurants. He enlisted in the Navy because he wanted to work with Marines.
“I came in the Navy to be a corpsman,” Green said. “I was going to go in the Marine Corps, but they didn’t offer anything in the medical field. I really wanted to deploy with Marines.”
He says that when he told the Marine recruiter that he wanted to be in the medical field, the recruiter informed him that the Marine Corps doesn’t have a medical field. The recruiter then pointed him in the direction of the Navy.
“They weren’t going to give me (the medical field) at first,” said Green talking about his time spent in the Military Enlistment Processing Station. “They said they were closed out at first. I just kept saying ‘I want to go to Iraq with the Marines.’ They kept saying they couldn’t get me the job.”
According to Green, he received his desired current military occupational specialty because a sailor overheard his enthusiasm to deploy with a Marine unit to Iraq.
“He just came up to me and asked ‘so you want to deploy with Marines huh?’,” he said. “I just told him that that’s the whole reason I wanted to be in the Navy, to deploy with Marines and help Marines.”
To this day Green is not sure who that sailor is but believes he somehow managed to get him his desired job.
Green says the hardest part of his deployment is being away from his daughter.
“I have a four-year-old daughter, Teagan Kathryn in Florida,” he said longingly. “It’s probably the hardest part. It’s definitely the hardest part. I miss her more than anyone or anything.”
He enlisted in the Navy to better provide for her.
“It’s pretty much been the reason I’ve done everything,” he continued. “I mean I miss her, but at least I can support her and give her health care, benefits and take care of her.”
According to Green, he is still unsure on whether or not he plans to reenlist. However he does have short term goals in mind such as earning the Fleet Marine Force badge, a badge Navy personnel attached to a Marine unit can earn if they successfully pass a series of tests on how Marines operate. He also wants to get promoted to the rank of petty officer 2nd class.
Editor’s Note: The Brigade Mentor Team for 2nd Brigade, 215th Corps, Afghan National Army, is a part of Regimental Combat Team 6. RCT-6 falls under 1st Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.