Side-by-side signs: Left, the original marker honoring Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Anthony Carbullido at a medical facility at Camp Stone, Afghanistan. Right, a new sign designed by Guam National Guardsmen earlier this year, paying tribute to his island home and his naval career. (Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Army National Guard)
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A marker with simple black lettering had been placed on the side of a medical facility in Afghanistan, meant to preserve the memory of a fallen Navy corpsman killed in August 2008.
But by 2013, few service members at Camp Stone, Afghanistan, knew the story behind the “Carbullido Troop Medical Clinic”: How Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Anthony Carbullido had been assigned to an Army unit in western Afghanistan; how his tour reportedly was supposed to come to an end in July but was extended twice through the end of August; and how he died when his convoy vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Sangatesh.
Flags on Carbullido’s home of Guam flew at half-staff after news of his death reached the island. Guam’s delegate in the House of Representatives, Madeleine Bordallo, entered his story into the Congressional Record, calling him “a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.”
But the Guam-based soldiers of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, who arrived at Camp Stone in May didn’t know the story, either.
However, they knew the name.
“ ‘Carbullido’ is a common name on Guam,” Staff Sgt. Peter San Nicolas said in a Guam Army National Guard news release. “We checked the medics, and nobody there had any history of the [troop medical clinic]. There was no picture of Carbullido, just a sign.
“Once we knew he was from Guam, we took it upon ourselves to do something better for him.”
A rededication was in order. The unit built a new 3-by-3-foot sign packed with symbolism — an anchor, a caduceus and a background honoring Carbullido’s island home, including a border sporting the colors of Guam’s flag.
Delta Company members reached out to Carbullido’s family, and they didn’t have to reach far — 1st Sgt. John Carbullido was stationed at Kandahar Airfield, southeast of Camp Stone. He and HM2 Carbullido were first cousins, according to the release. The first sergeant was heading home to Guam — escorting the body of a fallen soldier — when his cousin died.
“When I first heard of this, it ripped me apart,” he said in the news release. “Just knowing that he was still young ... and that he had a family that will grieve for the rest of their lives was hard to understand.
“On behalf of Tony Boy’s family, I appreciate the time and effort Delta soldiers took to honor him.”
The sign was unveiled at a July rededication ceremony, where the soldiers from Guam honored the sailor they’d never met in a land 5,000 miles from their common home.
It included an original song from Guam native Sgt. 1st Class Dan Pocaigue. The title: “So Far Away.”