Monday, May 28, 2007

Perspective: Wounded Marine deals with loss of buddy

When Lance Cpl. Ricardo Gutierrez Jr. heard the shots and saw a platoon sergeant fall to the ground in Fallujah, Iraq, the Saginaw resident knew what he had to do.

Go get his fellow Marine.

The 2001 Arthur Hill High School graduate climbed out of the Humvee he drove that day, ran to wounded Staff Sgt. Marcus Golczynski and bent down to pick him up when a sniper's shot struck Gutierrez above the left knee.

He went to the Humvee to drive it around to protect his wounded comrade when a second shot hit Gutierrez in the buttocks.

"This couldn't be happening," he said to himself. "We're almost home, but it's war."

After seven surgeries and recuperating for about a month and a half in military hospitals abroad and stateside, Gutierrez received a Purple Heart from the U.S. Marine Corps in a brief ceremony Thursday at the Armed Forces Reserve Center, 3500 Douglass in Saginaw.

Golczynski, 30, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., died during the March 27 attack.

"I really didn't want to receive (the Purple Heart), but that's what happened out there," said Gutierrez, 24, a reservist attached to Company B, 1st Battalion, 24th Marines in Saginaw.

A fellow Marine pinned the medal on Gutierrez's green camouflage uniform under the blue spring skies of mid-Michigan -- far from the turmoil of Fallujah with its searing temperatures and the ever-present threat of enemy firefights, Gutierrez said after the event.

"When you lose a buddy, you have to find a way to deal with that," he said.

Read the rest at the Saginaw News