MIL-OSI Security: Invoking Eras at NMRTC Bremerton Hospital Corps Ball

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Source: United States Navy (Medical)

The Hospital Corps of today rendered honors to their legacy of yesteryear while ready for the present and preparing for the future at Navy Medicine Readiness Training Command Bremerton 126th Hospital Corps Ball, June 8, 2024.

“There are [approximately] 960 staff at NMRTC Bremerton. Nurses, doctors, scientists, administrators, pharmacists, dentists, etc., but among us, only hospital corpsman are capable of going anywhere the Navy goes. The mission has remained essentially the same. To care for the men and women of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps and go into combat whenever and wherever that is, by their side. The respect and the fondness that is given to the Hospital Corps by Marines is legendary and paid for in blood. Your legacy is that of battlefield angel, doctor and priest. The dedication of corpsmen to protect their Sailors and Marines is so well known that the military had to change the uniforms to match the unit(s) they were with to make it harder for the enemies to target them,” said Capt. Patrick Fitzpatrick, NMRTC Bremerton commanding officer and Naval Hospital Bremerton director, in his opening remarks.

“As a Navy nurse, I have served with you for 27 years at military treatment facilities here and overseas,” continued Fitzpatrick. “From Guantanamo, Afghanistan and on humanitarian missions in 11 other countries. Your talents, ethos, tenacity and determination are well known to me – and others – and I will always have the deepest respect and love.”

Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Eric Morgan, command master chief and recent selectee to the rank of master chief, addressed those in attendance with his initial focus to recognize the Hospital Corps Ball Committee. “Without their tireless effort, tonight would not be possible.”

Committee members acknowledged were Chief Hospital Corpsman Joseph P. Nededog as chief advisor, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Gregory L. Deshields as president, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kaden N. Bridges as vice president, HM2 Joseph Towery as secretary, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class David S. Sidhu as assistant secretary, HM3 Corina M. Ramirez as treasurer, HM2 Crystal A. Munns as assistant treasurer, HM1 Rendel A. Basiga as public affairs officer, HM3 Genesis E. Ortega as volunteer coordinator, HM2 Kevin L. Aguirre as assistant volunteer coordinator, HM3 Karen N. Ortega as fundraiser chairperson, HM3 Timothy J. Lopez as fundraiser administrator, Hospitalman Kyler A. Coburn handling logistics, HM2 Jordan M. Busby as venue and decoration coordinator, HM2 Leeann E. Rodriguez as assistant venue coordinator and HM2 Anthony D. Winsor as assistant decoration coordinator.

“We remember those who came before us, trailblazers who set the standard of excellence we strive to upload today. We honor their memory by continuing to provide the highest quality of care, showing compassion and commitment and always putting our patient’s needs first,” said Morgan. “Let us also take a moment to acknowledge the families of our corpsmen. Their support and sacrifice are a vital part of our strength. To our spouses, children, parents and loved ones, thank you for standing by us, understanding the long hours and being our bedrock of support.”

It was on June 17, 1898, when then-President William McKinley signed a bill establishing the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps. Before that, the rate had gone through a number of iterations, from surgeon’s mate and surgeon’s steward to loblolly boy and apothecary, to name but a few. The title might have changed but not the collective courage.

There have been 23 corpsmen presented with the Medal of Honor, 179 who have received the Navy Cross, 31 who received the Distinguished Service Cross, 959 Silver Star Medal recipients and 1,600 presented with the Bronze Star with Combat V for Heroism.

There has also been great loss. Over 2,000 Navy hospital corpsman have been killed in action.

Guest of honor speaker Chief Hospital Corpsman Danny Garcia gave direct reference to the “The Eras Ball” theme, as he reflected on several past periods – taking his audience on 20-year jumps of time – tellingly demonstrating the Hospital Corps commitment of caring for the sick and injured.

“One of the eras I would like to take pause for tonight is those who served June 6, 1944, when almost 133,000 troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. Hospital corpsmen were there, swallowing the lump in their throat and stepping up to care for their wounded Sailors and Marines without regard for their own lives. During the assault, 2,501 were killed and an additional 5,000 wounded. The corpsman job was never ending, helping one only to hear the cry of “corpsman up” in the distance. These young Sailors were not without fear yet were unwavering in their duties. They replied on muscle memory and what little supplies they could carry to save lives,” shared Green, following by fast forwarding his monologue to the Vietnam War.

“Over 10,000 Navy corpsmen served with the Marines. They had to rely on knowledge passed from the previous eras, despite being told they weren’t hard enough or that their experience in life hadn’t prepared them. Despite the callus words the corpsmen of the Vietnam era adapted and did exactly what they were trained to do by saving lives even if it meant disregarding their own. There were 645 corpsmen killed in action and more than 3,300 wounded,” Green noted.

The next era Green touched upon was in October 1983, in Beirut Lebanon, with 1st Battalion 8th Marine Regiment deployed as part of the multinational peacekeeping force during the Lebanese civil war. At 6 a.m. on October 23, a young corpsman was already up walking the perimeter posts providing coffee and breakfast to his Marines.

“Around 6:22 he heard commotion near the front gate of the compound. Shortly after there was a large explosion. That explosion was a suicide bomber who drove a vehicle into the barracks where many were still sleeping. The young corpsman rushed to the scene to do anything he could to help. He relied on training and muscle memory to save lives,” exclaimed Green.

There were 241 U.S. military personnel killed in that bombing, of which 220 were Marines and 18 Sailors.

Another 20 years forward had Green describe another young corpsman – “maybe lightly overweight” reporting to a salty old senior chief for duty with the 8th Marines. After months of conditioning the unit deployed to Fallujah, Iraq,

“While eating with the salty senior chief, June 23, 2005, that young HM2 hears and feels the percussion from a large blast,” related Green. “He looks at the senior chief and knows it’s not good. As they rush to the surgical company, the young corpsmen on the scene do as those before them and reply on their training, muscle memory and the small amount of supplies to care for the injured. That day, six Sailors and Marines were lost with an additional 13 injured.”

Green stressed his narrative was not to incited unease but instead to invoke the strong sense of Hospital Corps character, spirit and pride in being part of a legacy which every era has stepped up to care for those injured despite all odds.

“Happy birthday to all corpsmen past and present and a special happy birthday to those who are serving in harm’s way and are unable to be with us tonight,” said Green.

Story originally posted on DVIDS: Invoking Eras at NMRTC Bremerton Hospital Corps Ball 

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