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Face of Defense: Sailor Represents Navy at Afghan Base

Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr., USMC Special to American Forces Press Service

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Reynaldo S. Datu patrols on a mountain in eastern Konar province, Afghanistan, with his Marine embedded training team and soldiers from 3rd Kandak (Armored), 3rd Brigade, 201st Afghan National Army Corps. Datu is part of Embedded Training Team 7-2, which is deployed from Okinawa, Japan, to work with the Afghan National Army. He is the only sailor based out of Forward Operating Base Naray, Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr., USMC

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 18, 2008 – The only sailor at Forward Operating Base Naray here is making his mark every day, using his experience, instincts and personality to improve the lives and welfare of his embedded training team and the Afghan National Army.

Petty Officer 1st Class Reynaldo S. Datu, a 42-year-old hospital corpsman assigned to Embedded Training Team 7-2, has been in Afghanistan for about six months. The team is deployed to Afghanistan from Okinawa, Japan.

A native of the Philippines who now calls San Diego home, Datu provides medical care for the team, acts as a mentor to the 3rd Kandak (Armored), 3rd Brigade, 201st Afghan National Army Corps, doctor and medics, and intervenes when civilian Afghans seek medical assistance from the base’s trauma center.

Datu’s impact as a member of ETT 7-2 started immediately upon his joining the Marines in training. “He’s kept us all up to date with our (medical) requirements” said Marine 1st Sgt. Matthew S. Seamans, a 42-year-old Shorewood, Minn., native and the senior enlisted mentor with the ETT. This has been the case since the unit began preparing for deployment.

A few days after Embedded Training Team 7-2 arrived in country, they joined the Afghan army in Operation Nowruz Jala (New Year Hail) in Kapisa province, where Datu put his medical experience to use.

“Doc ran out under fire and dragged an ANA soldier out (of the kill zone) to treat him,” said Seamans, one of the three Marines Datu now works with at FOB Naray.

Since Operation Nowruz Jala, Datu has personally provided medical training to the Afghan soldiers and has bridged a working relationship between the Afghan and U.S. Army medics on FOB Naray.

“Doc’s the consummate team player, which is real important to our training team,” said Marine Lt. Col. James F. Werth, the team’s chief. He added that the team can always count on Datu’s upbeat attitude.

The other Marines with Embedded Training Team 7-2 agreed that Datu’s personality has helped him develop the working relationships needed for the team’s success with the Afghan soldiers. “Right from the beginning he’s developed a good relationship (with the Afghan army),” Seamans said.

“He’s picked up the (local) language better than the rest of us,” said Marine Sgt. Will D. Craig, a 26-year-old Culleoka, Tenn., native, and mentor with Embedded Training Team 7-2.

Datu has put his communication skills, personality and initiative to use by helping the Afghan medics gain confidence in their skills. He also wants Afghan soldiers to gain confidence in their medics. If Afghan soldiers come to him for medical care, he ensures they have been seen by their own medical staff before he helps them.

In a recent visit to Anchagal village in Naray district, Datu said he was pleased to stand back and mentor while the Afghan army doctor and medics cared for the local Afghans. It’s all a part of the effort to make the ANA, “independent and capable,” he said.

(Marine Staff Sgt. Luis P. Valdespino Jr. is assigned to Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan Public Affairs.)

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