by Sarah Hauck
Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune
August 15, 2018
Collecting his thoughts after being expectedly announced as the first Admiral Cullison Award senior recipient, Master Chief James Baker returned the shock with insight into the mind of a Corpsman during the special ceremony June 15, 2018 on the Quarterdeck.
“One the greatest honors we could ever have is to be called ‘Doc’ on the battlefield,” said Baker. “There is nothing greater than walking out there, running out there, crawling out there, whatever you have to do to get to your brother who’s fallen and have them look at you in your eyes and have a sense of calm come over them despite their wounds, knowing you’re about to take care of them. There is no feeling greater in the world.”
The Admiral Cullison Award is a brand new award specific to Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune Corpsmen.
Named after former Commanding Officer Rear Admiral Thomas Cullison for his dedication and contributions to furthering the Hospital Corps, the award aims to annually recognize both a senior and junior Corpsman.
The honor was introduced in a joint Hospital Corps Birthday gathering on the medical center Quarterdeck.
A senior Corpsman, such as Baker, will be recognized for their lifetime of service and contributions to the Hospital Corps.
Hancock explained Baker’s dedication and desire to the future of the Hospital Corps is only one of many reasons he was nominated for the first presentation of the award.
“He has had all of the hard jobs and has lived the life. Days before his retirement, at 8:30 at night, is training corpsman, on leave. That speaks volumes,” said Hancock. “It is my absolute honor to stand in front of you and for the Corpsman Birthday, for the cake cutting today, and to have Admiral Cullision here to present this award to Master Chief Baker who is a very, very, very deserving Corpsman. As every year goes by, I want every one of you to want to be that name, to be ready to go tonight.”
The award also honors a junior Corpsman for their exemplary skills and willingness to be ready to fight at a moment's notice.
“It is being given to a corpsman that we feel is the corpsman best fit to fight tonight,” said Hancock. “The most prepared, the one that has done everything in his or her power to be able to go tonight. That means physically; outstanding PFT. That means mentally; highest rate exam. Mentally; working at the top of his credentials or her credentials. That means being able to understand not only the hospital role, but the combat role.”
Hospital Corpsman, Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick O’Meara was presented the junior honor from Baker, the nomination citation highlighting O’Meara’s always-engaged nature.
“From the moment he checked into Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune he’s proven himself as a motivated, self-starter,” read the citation. “His skill set as a corpsman coupled with the qualifications as a paramedic and ICU corpsman make him absolutely ready to go into any theater of operations where he would undoubtedly excel. He epitomizes readiness and is the perfect example that military treatment facilities can absolutely be the right platform to train like we fight and fight like we train. He embodies the HM rating, and what is needed to forward deploy and save lives when called upon.”
O’Meara, equally shocked to be recognized in a ceremony attended by more than 100 medical center staff members, was honored to have received the award, but more honored to share the inaugural presentation with Baker.
“If anyone asks who is Master Chief Baker, you don’t have to elaborate on who he is; everyone already knows,” said O’Meara. “If you say you’re doing something with Master Chief Baker, it is automatic accreditation because of who he is.”
Baker and O’ Meara’s names will appear on plaques on the front of a statue gifted to NMCCL by Rear Admiral Thomas Cullison.
Cullison was originally given the bronze statue upon his retirement as Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy by the Chief’s Mess for his dedication to the Hospital Corps.
Cullison explained the significance of the statue would be lost had it not been retired to NMCCL and used to honor a pair of Corpsmen dedicated to saving lives.
The statue, depicting two Corpsmen assisting a fallen service member, will find a permanent home at NMCCL as a means of memorializing the dedication of Corpsmen no matter in what arena they find themselves serving in.
“I think our corpsmen are the shining example of how we should uphold the Navy’s tradition,” said Cullison. “I really encourage you to take what you learn here, apply it on the battlefield and we’ll all be fine. As CAPT Hancock has heard me say in the past as we deployed, I ask two things of you; take good care of your patients, and take good care of each other.”
In the following years, two new Corpsmen will be selected based on a rigorous list of requirements to include physical and mental tests as well as exemplification of the Corpsman tradition.