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Petty Officer 2nd Class, a hospital corpsman with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, playing an enemy aggressor, sits waiting to ambush unsuspecting corpsmen on patrol.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

New ‘Thundering Third’ corpsmen feel sting of combat raining

29 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

Corpsmen from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, participated in a four-day training exercise, May 18 to 21, at the Combat Center’s Del Valle Field to prepare them for the battalion’s upcoming deployment.

Veteran 3/4 corpsmen serving as instructors teamed up with Craig Carter and David Baker from Pure Force Martial Arts in Twentynine Palms, Calif., to teach their junior sailors essential combat and lifesaving techniques.

“We basically started off day one with about eight full hours of martial arts and hand-to-hand combat training,” said Navy Lt. David Viayra, the battalion’s medical officer.

During the hand-to-hand instruction, the sailors were not only taught how to fight with their fists, but more importantly, how to defend themselves from an aggressor, Carter said. They also trained in weapons manipulation techniques using rifles, sticks and knives, teaching them how to counter attacks from aggressors and prevent enemies from disabling them.

The next day, Ken Charles from the Combat Center’s Special Response Team instructed the corpsmen in more combat tactics such as fire and maneuver, shooting drills and target acquisition, Viayra said. The third day was dedicated to more martial arts and hand-to-hand combat training.

“This whole week has been great,” said Seaman Chris Marsh, a hospital corpsman with 3/4. “This is the kind of training people who join the military expect to get.

“All the guys training here recently arrived to the battalion within the last three months, so we really haven’t gotten a chance to experience anything like this before,” he said.

To end the training package, the instructors put together a scenario involving patrolling and casualty evacuation, along with fire-and-maneuver techniques. The objective was to patrol to a certain point, establish a casualty collection point, and retrieve the friendly casualties.

The corpsmen, armed with Airsoft guns, also had to fend off instructors acting as equipped enemy aggressors using the fire-and-maneuver techniques they learned in their second day of training.

“The week culminated with a mass casualty exercise,” Viayra said. “This is where we are teaching them to hammer down the basics and apply the training.

“This training helps these guys not only learn the skills they need to be effective, but also helps them get more acquainted with the Marine side of the spectrum,” he said.

Viayra said the training turned out to be a huge success.

“I’m really proud of how far my guys came in such a short amount of time,” he said. “The battalion commander was out here too, and he wants to see more of this training.

“We hope to integrate the Marines into the scenarios next time,” Viayra said. “That way, the corpsmen can get more familiar working with Marines on patrols while still focusing on their specialty.”

Since the corpsmen going through the training are new, they have not yet been given the opportunity to go to the field and work directly with the battalion’s Marines.

“This was good, realistic training because it put more emphasis on tactics and medicine together,” Marsh said. “We actually got to learn how to patrol and collect patients, then take them to the casualty collection point, which is what we have to worry about when we’re deployed.”

The new corpsmen will soon be pushed out to the line companies to begin working with the Marines more closely. The entire battalion will continue to train for an upcoming deployment.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms