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Navy corpsman known for battlefield heroics

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By Asia Harris

The Cincinnati Herald

Brodmon Drakeford Jr. Photo provided

At age 21, Brodmon Drakeford Jr. joined the military becoming a member of the U. S Navy. A native of Cincinnati, Drakeford attended the Academy of World Languages in Evanston and studied zoology at Hughes STEM High School.

His decision to join the Navy was prompted when his father, Brodmon Drakeford Sr., told him he would have to begin to decide on how he would care for himself as a young adult after graduating from high school. Drakeford chose to join the Navy alongside his brother Elijah Drakeford, who had earlier become a sailor.

He is the son of Brodmon Sr. and Paula Drakeford.

Drakeford Sr. describes his son as someone who loves people, and would help people however he could.

Since joining the service nine years ago, he has earned honors for his heroic service. He has earned a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his “heroic achievement in the superior performance of his duties while serving” as a Fleet Marine Force corpsman in combat with Company F, Second Law Enforcement Battalion with the second Marine Expeditionary Force, while fighting alongside Marines in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Just three months into his tour, while conducting a combat patrol, his platoon came under heavy small arms fire. “Drakeford maneuvered across 300 meters of open terrain under fire in order to close with the enemy, causing them to retreat and ultimately end the fire fight,’’ according to the Summary of Action accompanying the award he received in 2013.

“That’s how the infantry trains,’’ he said. “That’s their mission to close in and destroy the enemy. It becomes second nature. You just react.’’

Drakeford also reacted three weeks later when a member of his squad stepped on an improvised explosive device, which instantly amputated both of his legs. Drakeford was knocked down by the explosion.

According to his letter of commendation in 2013, Drakeford suffered a concussion and a ringing in his ears from the blast. Despite Drakeford’s concussion and confusion, he immediately placed himself in further danger as he tended to his fellow Marine to dress his wounds and administer morphine to alleviate the pain. If Drakeford had not acted so quickly the Marine would not have survived, the commendation states.

Drakeford was deployed in a combat environment with the battalion for six months. Even though he wore a Navy rank, the Marines welcomed him as one of their own, he said.

Drakeford said he earned the title “Doc,’’ which means they trusted him. “They know I am pretty good at my job, and that I know how to react and maneuver in a firefight,’’ he said.

Drakeford also has served as the most senior medical person stationed at a patrol base that did not have a medical officer. He also provided treatment to Marines during sick call and provided medical treatment to more than 150 nationals to help gain rapport with the population, the summary states.

Drakeford had been the leading petty officer at Naval Hospital Lemoore’s Deployment Health Department at Naval Air Station in Lemoore, Calif., where he oversaw young medics and officers joining the service. He is now stationed at 1st Battalion 3rd Marine Hospital at Kananoe on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.

Drakeford will soon undergo surgery on his back to relieve injury caused from carrying heavy materials in combat, his father said.

His son’s daring acts were at one time a cause of concern for the family, Drakeford Sr. said. “There were times I was afraid that someone in that uniform would show up at my front door while he was away,’’ he said.

But Drakeford Jr. has survived the hardships of being in battle. His achievements and bravery have allowed him to be promoted to second class petty officer.

Brodmon Drakeford Sr. said his son “doesn’t look at himself as a hero. He feels he was just doing his job for his company.”

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