AL ASAD, Iraq -- Sailors and Marines gathered today to celebrate the 107th birthday of the United States Navy Hospital Corps here.
During a small ceremony, corpsmen and Marines from every squadron and group of the forward deployed 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, as well as corpsmen from Naval Construction Battalion 24 and the Naval Preventative Medicine Unit, gathered for a time of remembrance, reflection and celebration.
Speaking to the formation of corpsmen and the crowd, Brig. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr., 2nd MAW (Forward) commanding general, spoke of the essential tie between the Marine Corps and the brave, courageous ‘docs.’
“No one or nothing is held in higher esteem by Marines than their corpsman,” Brig. Gen. Milstead said. “Wherever you find corpsmen, especially in a time of war, you hear the
phrase ‘above and beyond the call of duty.’”
Every time Marines have gone to battle, the sailors of the Hospital Corps have been with them. Even on Iwo Jima, Petty Officer 2nd Class John “Doc” Bradley helped five Marines raise the flag that would become an icon of the Marine Corps.
After the invocation by Cmdr. Rondall Brown, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) chaplain, and the commanding general’s remarks, corpsmen from the wing’s squadrons cited the great history of the Naval Hospital Corps and read the Medal of Honor citations of Petty Officers 3rd Class R.E. Bush, R.R. Ingram and W.M. Caron, three of the 23 sailors to receive the nation’s highest award for gallantry.
“You have to know where you have been to get where you are going,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Tom D. Boggs, corpsman with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 and native of Lorain, Ohio. “Today we pause to remember those who have come before us.”
Formed by an act of congress on June 17, 1898, the sailors of the Hospital Corps serve on ships, submarines, foreign soil and the battlefield. Placing their fellow Marines and sailor’s lives above their own, they are woven into the fabric of our Corps.
Serving beside Marines in every single conflict and battle for more than a century, the courageous men and women of the Hospital Corps have earned the deepest respect and admiration of their Marines.
“We have the knowledge and tools today because of what our predecessors developed,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew T. Verspoor, hospital corpsman with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 and native of Delhi, N.Y. “They laid a foundation for all corpsmen to follow.”
After remembering the history and deeds of the Hospital Corps, the sailors repeated the oath of the Navy corpsman.
With right hands raised, the corpsmen reaffirmed their dedication to providing care under fire and selflessly performing their awesome tasks.
“…I hold the care of the sick and injured to be a privilege and sacred trust…,” they said. “…I dedicate my heart, mind and strength to the work before me…”
For the corpsmen of 2nd MAW, this year’s birthday held special meaning, as they celebrated in a combat zone with the Marines they have sworn to care for.
“It is extra special to celebrate here in Iraq,” Verspoor said. “This is what we have trained for — this is why we are here.”
Today, as well in their heroic past, corpsmen continue to live the words of their oath. Whether flying in helicopters to rescue wounded Marines from the field of battle, or in a fire team as Marines clear hostile streets, the beloved ‘Devil Docs’ of the Hospital Corps continue to answer the call…corpsman up!
*For more information about the Marines or news reported on in this story, please contact Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis by e-mail at email@example.com*