By Lisa Johnson
Five medics, corpsmen and pararescuemen were honored at this year’s Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) ‘Angels of the Battlefield’ gala in Washington, D.C. on March 26.
Hospital Corpsman First Class Kevin Toland, a 32-year-old Fleet Marine Force corpsman from Atlanta, Ga., and 26-year-old Hospital Corpsman Second Class Michael Marchante, of Murrieta, Calif., were two of the five ASYMC ‘Angel’ honorees.
Keynote speaker, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld, Jr., spoke of the unselfish bravery these men and women displayed while performing their duties without regard to their own safety.
“The honorees tonight will tell you that they were just ‘doing their jobs’, said Winnefeld. “They did their jobs instinctively, and under some extraordinary circumstances.”
The ASYMC ‘Angels’ represent each of the five service branches of the U.S. military, and were chosen by their respective services. More than 300 guests, including senior military and enlisted service members, gathered at the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. to honor the 2014 recipients at the 8th annual event.
“There’s no higher honor than honoring our heroes,” said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. “Our military is blessed to have the very finest medical team, and our honorees tonight have displayed extraordinary valor, expert care and selflessness.”
When an improvised explosive device (IED) hit a local bazaar in Afghanistan in 2012, Toland’s instincts and training kicked in. He took immediate action and triaged and treated patients. His actions saved many lives.
“I am honored to accept on behalf of all the other corpsmen who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Toland. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to represent the hospital corps.”
Marchante, who has twice deployed to Afghanistan, was recognized for performing life-saving medical care on the battlefield. While under active fire, used his body to shield an already severely wounded soldier in Afghanistan from further injury.
“To be recognized tonight is a huge honor,” said Marchante. “My wife and parents are extremely proud of my service.”
The YMCA first served the military over 150 years ago during the Civil War. Its armed services department developed later into the ASYMCA that still serves today.
Each year, the ASYMCA honors medics, corpsmen and pararescuemen for providing life-saving medical treatment on the battlefield. This event is the only event which specifically recognizes the frontline actions of military medical personnel.
“These are the men and women that risk their lives each day, so our service members make it home to their families,” said Mike Landers, president and chief executive officer of ASYMCA. “Recognizing them for their sacrifices and tremendous sense of valor is one small way to demonstrate how grateful we are for their service.”
The ASYMCA is a top-rated 501 (c) (3) charity. ASYMCA provides services and support programs for junior enlisted service members and their families at 45 of military installations across the U.S. They offer childcare, wounded warrior support, spouse and deployment assistance, and other programs to help make military life easier. For more information on ASYMCA, visit www.asymca.org.