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The Docs: WHAT THEY MEAN TO THE CORPS

21 Nov 2011 | Lance Cpl. Ali Azimi

Navy hospital corpsmen, more commonly known as the “corpsmen.” They wear the Marine Corps uniforms but they have never trained at Marine Corps Recruit Depot. They have saved the lives of hundreds of Marines, yet they do not claim the title themselves.

Corpsmen have a long standing tradition of serving alongside Marines because the Corps does not train medical personnel. They stand as a necessary part of a Marine fleet. Their mission is to prevent or treat any injury Marines may come across in the unpredictable combat zone.

The training corpsmen receive is nothing like the first aid Marines are taught throughout recruit training.

Corpsmen go through rigorous training through the Medical Education and Training Campus on Fort Sam Houston, Texas, learning to become experts in their field. Not only do these corpsmen need to be well-rounded with their occupation, they must also be a rifleman.

In order to be a well-functioning, integrated part of the Marine Corps, they must be combat oriented as any Marine from any military occupational specialty.

Corpsmen for the Corps go through a seven-week course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., or Camp Pendleton, Calif., similar to Marine basic training. There, corpsmen must learn the trade of the Corps-everything from markmanship and patroling to uniform regulations.

“It was an introduction to a different world,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bradley T. Furtado, a preventative medicine technician with Combat Logistics Battalion 7. “They immerse you into the Marine Corps world.”

Corpsmen are accepted into each unit like brothers. They are regarded as equals for their training as well as their vital role in the unit.

“It really is a title in itself,” Furtado said. “Nobody knew my rank, they knew me as ‘Doc.’”

In the field, they serve as any Marine would, digging fox holes or laying down cover fire. When the time comes when a Marine is down, the ‘Doc’ sprints to the aid of his comrade.

It is not a question of if they will be needed, but rather, when.

“The most important part of the job is to look after the welfare of the Marines,” Furtado said, after his recent return from deployment.


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