During the battle at Iwo Jima, Marine WWII veteran Raul Avina, Sr. was critically wounded in combat. As the fight raged on, several U.S. Navy corpsmen ran towards him and dragged his body to safety. Because of their heroism, Avina lived not only to tell the story of his rescuers, but also to build them a monument.
In the summer of 1987, Camp Pendleton officially dedicated Avina’s hand-constructed concrete memorial to the Navy corpsmen who risked their lives to save Marines wounded on the battlefield. The memorial was originally placed in front of the old Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. Avina died in 2003, leaving behind his work and his legacy .
After decades of corrosion, Avina’s original statue was crumbling. To permanently preserve his work, the original sculpture was recast in bronze by the same builders currently constructing Camp Pendleton’s new Naval Hospital. The recast will remain in front of the new hospital as a tribute to Avina and Navy corpsman.
Officials at Camp Pendleton unveiled the new memorial on December 12th in front of nearly 200 people, including Avina’s family. Several military leaders spoke at the event, including First Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general, Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison.
It is said that a hard charging Corpsman is a sailor that will go through the very gates of hell to save a wounded Marine. There is no better tribute than the bond between Marines and Hospital Corpsmen and no better example of that bond than this monument, created by Raul almost 30 years ago. So to Raul, to his family, to all that made this possible and most importantly to the Hospital Corpsmen around the world today of whom this is a tribute, let me say, thanks shipmates it’s a privilege to serve with you.