Lindale Bronze Star Recipient ‘A True Hero

Lindale Bronze Star Recipient ‘A True Hero’
Staff Writer

LINDALE — Lindale resident Pvt. Kirk P. Rosenbalm is not only being lauded by his family and community members, but the United States Army has recognized the soldier by presenting him with the Bronze Star Medal.

He received the honor in April for “exceptionally meritorious achievement as a medic during operation Iraqi Freedom.” While conducting a dismounted patrol, an insurgent attacked with a grenade, severely injuring a fellow soldier in the gunner position. Rosenbalm immediately rendered aid to the soldier, who was bleeding profusely from the femoral artery. He packed the soldier’s wounds with several rolls of combat gauze, which stopped the bleeding until he reached an operating room. His mother, Michelle Howell, said Rosenbalm called a few days after the incident happened.

“He was very proud,” she said. “He was pretty excited that he saved a guy’s life. I was very proud of him but after that, reality hit. It scared me to death that he was in that situation. But it was meant to be for him to be in that place.”

The soldier, Spc. Andres Crespo, is in rehabilitation and doctors were able to save his leg, Mrs. Howell said. A surgeon noted that if Rosenbalm had not reacted the way he did Crespo would have died.

“His actions reflect great credit upon him, 25th infantry division, multinational division-north and the United States Army,” the award reads.

Rosenbalm graduated from Lindale High School early, missing his graduation, in order to leave for basic training on May 20, 2008.

Although Mrs. Howell said she remembers Rosenbalm playing “army soldier” and dressing in camouflage at nine years old, she was surprised when he enlisted in the Army.

Assistant Superintendent Jamie Holder was Rosenbalm’s junior high and high school principal while he attended Lindale Independent School District. He said he knew Rosenbalm would be a success because he was very respectful and driven. He said he was also a varsity football player who “thrived on Friday night for the competition.” “He is a very likable young man,” Holder said. “Once football was over with, he wanted to get on with his life. He was ready to serve his country. He graduated early for that sole purpose.”

He added, “He’s a true hero and I’m very proud of him. It’s a good feeling to see a young man like that who comes through your school system to serve our country and serve it well.”

Mrs. Howell said the skills learned as a medic has encouraged Rosenbalm to seek medicine as a profession.

“He just knows that it’s his calling,” she said. “He wants to do something in the medical field.”

Mrs. Howell said she is prayerful each night, awaiting the safe return of her oldest of three children. Rosenbalm is expected to return from his tour in Iraq in November and will be stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen.


Business Spotlight: Combat Medical Systems

Combat Medical Systems

Owners: Corey Russ, Shane Bobbitt and Jessica Perkins

Founded: February 2008

Location: 6441 Yadkin Road

No. of employees: 13

What it does: Helps partner companies develop tactical medical supplies geared toward the military, much of the time in exchange for product distribution rights.

How did you get into this business? “I had worked – me and Shane – in special operations. I was a medical combat developer. In that position, we had a lot of contact with industry, obviously, and I had about 15 years as a Special Forces medic on the ground. We kind of continued that. Shane was previously the project manager for the Army’s original hemostatic dressing.”

Did you see yourselves as filling a niche? “I think the real niche for us is we like to partner with what we call smart companies. There are a lot of companies that have great technology but don’t understand the military market. We take our personal knowledge and location near Fort Bragg and we help optimize their technology for the military. All our partner companies are great companies, but we help them achieve better results. In most cases, we exchange that with distributorship.”

How many partner companies do you have? “It fluctuates. At various levels, we have as many as 25 companies we work with.”

Are there any products you’re particularly proud of? “Our partner Jessica had worked previously for Z-Medica. They have a product line, QuikClot, which is used to prevent life-threatening hemorrhage. In the last year, we’ve worked close with them to take it through testing and safety testing with the Army. Right now, we’re DoD’s hemorrhage control dressing for all four services. We have just over a million units in theater. … It’s used in every soldier’s individual field kit, and every squad kit, medical kit and vehicle kit.” The product is Combat Gauze.

What is your assessment of opportunities for former specialized soldiers? “I think it’s huge. I think Fort Bragg is a great location to foster that, and in many ways, Fort Bragg has become the catalyst for a lot of new development.”

You could have located in D.C. or elsewhere. Why here? “Most military medical companies set up in Maryland around Fort Detrick, where procurement happens. Our company’s model … we focus on what soldiers need, and that requires us to be near Fort Bragg and where the experience is.”

Is there risk in modeling a business that’s tied to current world events? “I think that’s just business in general. … I do think that one thing that will be unique going forward after 9/11, particularly with medical, I don’t think this country or the military or Department of Defense is ever going back to that peacetime mind-set. I think at very large program levels, we may decide to not buy fighter jets or something, but at the unit level that’s on call to deploy on short notice, they’re going to support the soldier with the best medical equipment they can get.”

What advice would you offer to a start-up? “Two things for sure: Think ahead, prepare. We started preparing this idea about two years before I got out (of the service). There was a lot of preparing in that; switching from the military mind-set to the business mind-set takes some energy. And don’t underestimate what you’re capable of. You have 20 years of experience in the military. That’s significant. That’s knowledge and expertise that a lot of companies are looking for.”