For Chief Hospital Corpsman Marvin B. Guzman, the answer could be where he was born, Orion, Bataan, Philippines, or where he became a United States citizen, San Diego, California, or where he graduated high school, Oceanview High School in Agat, Guam. Yet it might also be at Field Medical Service School where he received his training and began working with U.S. Marines as a Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Hospital Corpsman.
Due to his father being in the Navy, Guzman moved constantly throughout his life. And while Guzman’s original plan was to stay put as an adult, his eventual enlistment in the Navy had other plans.
“Growing up, I never thought of joining the military because I didn’t want my family to go through what I went through as a military child,” said Guzman. “Between always having to relocate, being the new guy at a different school, always leaving and having to make new friends, there was just no stability in my social life.”
After establishing friendships and a romantic relationship in Guam, Guzman's father, a Machinery Repairman (MR), received orders to Hawaii, and he became more open to the idea of enlisting in hopes of not moving again.
“I went to an Army recruiting station and enlisted in the Army where they guaranteed me a duty station at the Army Corps of Engineers in Guam,” said Guzman. “I enlisted in the Army for all the wrong reasons: to stay in Guam where all my friends where, and mainly because that’s where my girlfriend was at the time. I rose to the ranks of Specialist (E-3), and in 1998, I got out of the Army.”
Guzman joined his family in Hawaii and planned on enlisting again – this time in the Marine Corps, but family friends convinced him to join the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman (HM).
“I could have the best of both worlds, being in the Navy and serving with the Marines, but most importantly, I’d be part of the most highly respected and decorated rate in the Navy,” said Guzman. “The history of the HM rate speaks for itself, and it’s what lead me to become an HM myself.”
Numerous stories of heroic and selfless actions by HMs on the battlefields of Belleau Wood, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Khe Sanh and Fallujah have been documented in history. To date, HMs have been the recipients of 22 Medals of Honor, 199 Navy Crosses and some 984 Silver Stars, and being a member of the rate is a very personal honor to Guzman.
“I am proud to be able to serve my country and follow the century of tradition of those before me,” said Guzman. “It is a great privilege to take care of the sick and wounded that have been entrusted to my care. I have touched and saved numerous lives and earned the title ‘Doc,’ serving with my fellow Marines in combat.”
Guzman has been in the face of danger, almost losing his life by being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).
“My buddy, U.S. Marine Cpl. Chris Reeves, and I were in a middle of a firefight when we took cover behind a partial wall of a blown-up house,” said Guzman. “As we were shooting rounds toward the enemy, some of my Marines started yelling 'Doc, John's hit!!’ I heard another scream, ‘I'm hit!’ At that very moment, I was only focused on getting to and helping my wounded Marines to save their lives.”
Though bullets were flying around him, Guzman remained focused on his wounded brothers-in-arms.
“I immediately attempted to climb over the 4-foot wall, but as soon as I put one foot on top of the wall, my buddy grabbed and tackled me,” said Guzman. “As we were both falling to the ground, him on top of me, an RPG flew over us right where I was standing. If it wasn't for Reeves' quick reaction I could've been hit by that RPG. I was directly in its flight path. I owe my life to Cpl. Chris Reeves and all those Marines I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to serve with.”
For some who’ve had the misfortune of experiencing military combat, being a Corpsman means living with yourself even if those fighting alongside you don’t make it home.
“I have had survivor's guilt for years after my deployments,” said Guzman. “I am still dealing with some of it today. What has helped me the most to get through the dark times is talking to fellow Corpsman and Marines who have been (in the action), since we all knew someone who didn't make it back home alive.”
Despite his struggles on the home front, his fellow Corpsmen and Marines have helped him to remain strong and keep moving forward.
“They always tell me, ‘Doc, you went above and beyond,’” said Guzman. “You're not God and can't save everyone.’ They let me know that if they could choose any Corpsman to go into battle with, it would be me because they saw how passionate and able I was, and they knew if something were to happen to them that they would be in good hands.”
Guzman, now the medical talent acquisition specialist at Talent Acquisition Onboarding Center Surf City, sees it as his mission to recruit only highly qualified and motivated individuals to become medical officers in the Navy, and contributing to the next generation of medical providers is very important to him.
“I want the best men and women to take care of the fleet and - more importantly - the families who allow our Sailors to serve in the Navy,” said Guzman. “I took the opportunity to become a medical officer recruiter because I wanted to give back to the Navy and the Hospital Corps.”
Fifteen months into his recruiting tour, Guzman’s says that the most rewarding aspect of recruiting is helping others fulfill their goal of joining the Navy.
“My accomplishments are not about how many people I put into the Navy or how many awards I get out of it,” said Guzman. “It is all about making dreams come true, and to me, that is the greatest accomplishment I can ever ask for. Seeing the joy and tears of these young men and women after notifying them of their selection into a scholarship and or a direct commission is priceless.”
After 22 years of Navy service and five IA (Individual Augmentee) tours that were mostly combat tours between Iraq and Afghanistan, Guzman knows what it takes to be a medical professional in the military.
“I have met some very knowledgeable, professional and caring medical officers, and becoming a recruiter is my chance to seek out those highly qualified medical professionals and students in hopes in commissioning them into the Navy,” said Guzman. “I am always on the lookout for someone who is honest and professional, passionate about medicine, is eager to serve our country, thinks of ways to improve how we practice medicine, is career minded and has leadership qualities. I’m looking for someone who is not afraid to step outside his or her comfort zone.”
Renamed in December 2020, NTAG Southwest encompasses 210,000 square miles covering Arizona, Nevada and Southern California. Headquartered at Naval Base Point Loma, the command has three Talent Acquisition Onboarding Centers (TAOC Fleet City, TAOC Surf City and TAOC Paradise City) managing 43 Navy Recruiting Stations and Navy Officer Recruiting Stations in the tri-state region and employs more than 300 recruiters, support personnel and civilians.
For more news from NTAG Southwest, visit www.dvidshub.net/unit/NRD-SanDiego or https://www.cnrc.navy.mil/pages-nrd/sandiego/default.html. Also you can follow the command on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ntagsw), Twitter (@NRD_SanDiego) and Instagram (@ntagsw).
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