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COMBAT OUTPOST SHIR GHAZAY, Afghanistan – As a senior in high school, Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Ricky Lattimore decided to serve his country. One month after his May 2008 graduation, he was on his way to basic training.
Lattimore, a corpsman with Company B, 2nd Tank Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 6, said that after playing football and basketball in high school, he did not receive a scholarship to play sports in college. Unable to afford continuing his education, he enlisted in the Navy.
“After my senior year, I didn’t get a scholarship to play football or the chance to go to acting school,” said Lattimore, from Dublin, Ga. “My mom couldn’t afford to pay for it, so I had to figure out a plan to get out of there. At the same time, I had to get an education. One day I met a Navy recruiter who had stopped by my job. He asked me if I wanted to join the Navy, and I was all for it after that.”
Not wanting a manual labor job, Lattimore said, he decided to get a job in the Navy that would challenge him mentally.
“I didn’t want some kind of hard labor job. Instead I was looking for a job where I would need to work with my mind,” he said. “When they offered me the corpsman job, I thought it would be a challenge. I’ve always liked helping people out too, so what better way to do that than providing medical care? It seemed like the perfect job for me.”
As a corpsman, Lattimore has been able to work both as a “blue side” and “green side” corpsman. “Blue side” corpsmen primarily work with the Navy at military hospitals and clinics, while “green side” corpsmen work alongside Marines.
“I was blue side, and during that time I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, working at the naval hospital. I loved it out there -- the environment and the people were so nice,” Lattimore said. “After I was done, I had the choice to go on a ship or go green side. I didn’t want to really go on a ship, and getting the chance to work with Marines kind of intrigued me.”
Since coming over to the green side, Lattimore has been working with the Marines from 2nd Tank Battalion.
“I love tanks. I’ve gotten to learn a lot about them just from being stationed with them,” Lattimore said. “Being with tanks on this deployment has been very interesting. I mean, there might be a firefight or something going on, but once the insurgents see the tanks, they usually cease all hostile acts. I’d rather not go anywhere else. I’d like to just stay with tanks the whole time on I’m on the green side.”
To deal with being separated from his loved ones, Lattimore said, he takes time to relax while listening to music.
“The best way that I’ve found to cope with being away from my friends and family is just to find a nice little space where I can listen to some music and kind of zone out for a few minutes,” Lattimore said. “I like to just forget everything that’s happening around me, and everything is usually all right after I do that.”
Since enlisting in the Navy, Lattimore said, he has wanted to deploy. “I’ve always wanted to go to Afghanistan just so I could say I served my country and did my part,” he added.
Lattimore’s daily tasks include caring for and looking after the Marines in his platoon and going on any combat operations where he might be needed.
“Doc Lattimore is pretty laid back. He knows his job real well, and he’s a great mentor. He definitely looks after us and makes sure we’re all doing all right,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Guensly Dorisca. “In the Marine Corps community we have corpsmen, but I’ve never worked with a corpsman like him before. I mean he’s part of the platoon. Everything we do, he’s always a part of it.”