Photo Information

Samd Mamhd, a student at the Joint Security Academy Southwest aboard Camp Leatherneck, lifts up his shirt to allow Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Gray, JSAS's Senior Medical Department Representative, to examine his stitches, April 27. JSAS corpsmen were able to quickly diagnose Mamhd with appendicitis and transport him to the nearest medical facility for treatment, essentially saving his life, April 16.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Bryan Nygaard

Joint Security Academy Corpsmen save Afghan policeman’s life

4 May 2011 | Lance Cpl. Bryan J. Nygaard

April 16 was another day of training for Samd Mamhd. The three-year veteran of the Afghan Uniformed Police was learning patrolling techniques at the Joint Security Academy Southwest aboard Camp Leatherneck when he started feeling intense pain in his upper abdomen.

After several hours, the pain had moved into the lower right portion of his abdomen and simple tasks such as walking became unbearable.

“I thought I was going to die,” said Mamhd, a native of Musa Qalah in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Upon arriving at the basic aid station, Mamhd was examined by Petty Officer 3rd Class Brent Williams, a general duty corpsman with JSAS. Williams, a native of Grand Junction, Colo., normally treats students for ailments as simple as headaches, body aches and dehydration. The corpsman knew this was different.

“He came up to me and said he could barely walk,” said Williams. “He couldn’t eat anything. He kept getting into the fetal position. So we decided to perform a rebound test.”

In a rebound test, a doctor uses his hands to apply pressure to the abdomen. If the pain increases once the doctor removes his hands, then the patient probably has appendicitis. For Mamhd, the test was positive.

“That’s a hallmark sign of appendicitis,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Terry Gray, JSAS’s senior medical department representative and native of New Albany, Ind. “I felt it was pertinent to push it to the next level and have a surgeon take a look at it.”

Gray then had Williams drive Mamhd to Camp Bastion’s trauma hospital. Mamhd’s attending physician confirmed that it was appendicitis. He was scheduled for surgery the next day.

Gray visited Mamhd after he woke up from surgery. Mamhd was very happy to see him. He gave him the thumbs up and even showed him the scar.

“He was a trooper,” said Gray. “He was complaining about the pain, but he didn’t let it get him down.”

Gray said that patients who have their appendix removed usually spend a week on bed rest and light duty. Mamhd didn’t play that card. He was released from the hospital the next day.

“I will never leave my job,” said Mamhd. “I will always do my part. I can now walk, run and shoot without any pain. I’m ready to go back to fighting the Taliban.

“[Gray] is my friend. He and the other doctors help us like a brother helps out another brother.”

Gray feels that if Mamhd had not been attending classes at JSAS when this happened, he more than likely would have died. Mamhd visits Gray every day to have his dressings changed. Gray attributes the quick diagnosis and trust gained by Mamhd to his fellow corpsmen.

“I’m very proud of how my team came together and was able to provide [Mamhd] with the help he needed,” said Gray.

“He’s a thriving man who’s eager to get back and serve his country,” said Gray. “It makes me feel good. It reaffirms why I became a corpsman in the first place.”