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U.S. Navy Corpsman Eric Eberdong flushes out the head wound of an Afghan child Monday in the eastern Afghanistan village of Watapoor. Eberdong was attached to 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division for a five-day patrol. The child fell while running.
U.S. Navy Corpsman Eric Eberdong flushes out the head wound of an Afghan child Monday in the eastern Afghanistan village of Watapoor. Eberdong was attached to 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division for a five-day patrol. The child fell while running. (Steve Mraz / S&S)

WATAPOOR, Afghanistan — Shortly after noon Monday, Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Eberdong, a U.S. Navy corpsman with a Marine unit in Afghanistan, was called to action. The medic grabbed his bag and hurried to the downed man.

But instead of attending to an injured Marine, the 30-year-old from Agan, Guam, found an 8-year-old Afghan boy with a gnarly cut above his right eye.

Evidently, the child was running down a road in Watapoor in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar province, tripped and hit his head on one the ubiquitous rocks that dot the landscape.

When Eberdong arrived on the scene, villagers were huddled around the child, who was lying on a bed outside. The child had a bandage over his wound and had received rudimentary stitches from an Afghan doctor.

Eberdong pulled on a pair of medical gloves as villagers peeled off the child’s bandage. The wound had not been properly cleaned, and the stitches appeared to be performed with fishing line.

Eberdong swabbed the wound with betadine and thoroughly flushed it with water. The child did little more than squirm throughout the process despite his evident pain.

“He’s a tough kid,” said U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Barry St. Onge, platoon sergeant with 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, out of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. “I’d be crying like a little girl,” said the 28-year-old from Atkinson, N.H.

Some of the village elders seemed to agree, according to a translator. The elders told the boy that he was brave for not crying.

Eberdong, who was attached to the platoon during a recent five-day mission, gave some of the men nearby additional dressings for the child’s wound.

“Make sure you try to keep it clean,” he instructed them. “Change the dressing every day.”

The incident is just another example of Eberdong’s lending a helping hand to Afghans.

“I love it,” he said. “It hurts me to see them in pain, so I’m always taking care of them.”

The humanitarian assistance could help in winning over residents in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, a particularly dangerous province that borders Pakistan and has experienced several roadside bombings recently.

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