Petty Officer Third Class Dustin E. Kirby clutched the injured marine's empty helmet. His hands were coated in blood. Sweat ran down his face, which he was trying to keep straight but kept twisting into a snarl.
Petty Officer Third Class Dustin E. Kirby, at far left in foreground, and members of his platoon prayed for Lance Cpl. Colin Smith, who was wounded by a sniper.
He held up the helmet and flipped it, exposing the inside. It was lined with blood and splinters of bone.
"The round hit him," he said, pausing to point at a tiny hole that aligned roughly with a man's temple. "Right here."
Petty Officer Kirby, 22, is a Navy corpsman, the trauma medic assigned to Second Mobile Assault Platoon of Weapons Company, Second Battalion, Eighth Marines. Everyone calls him Doc. He had just finished treating a marine who had been shot by an Iraqi sniper.
"It was 7.62 millimeter," he continued. "Armor piercing."
He reached into his pocket and retrieved the bullet, which he had found. "The impact with the Kevlar stopped most of it," he said. "But it tore through, hit his head, went through and came out."
He put the bullet in his breast pocket, to give to an intelligence team later. Sweat kept rolling off his face, mixed with tears. His voice was almost cracking, but he managed to control it and keep it deep. "When I got there, there wasn't much I could do," he said.