FORWARD OPERATING BASE PAYNE, Afghanistan (01/01/2011) –
Throughout the history of the Marine Corps, the navy
corpsman has played a vital role alongside Marines,
cauterizing wounds on ships as far back as the Revolutionary
War and the days of the Continental Navy. Even in the iconic
photo for the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, Petty Officer 2nd
Class John Bradley, a pharmacist's mate (a previous hospital
corpsman rate), can be seen alongside Marines on Mt.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody T. West, a hospital corpsman, Embedded Training Team 2, Border Advisory Team 2, prepares for operation Eagle Hunt, an Afghan lead operation that began on Dec. 17, 2011 Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Photo by USMC Cpl. Daniel Wulz
After nearly ten years as a corpsman,
Petty Officer 2nd Class Cody T. West, Embedded Training Team
2, Border Advisory Team 2, began his third combat deployment
with Marines, Oct. 2011.
West originally joined the
Navy to become a parachute rigger and went to the Military
Entrance Processing Station in, Aug. 2001, but after the
attacks on the world trade center, Sept. 11, 2001, West
started pushing to go to boot camp as soon as possible. In
order to shorten his waiting time, West accepted a contract
as a hospital corpsman.
“I'm a corpsman by
accident,” West said, who hails from Colorado Springs, Colo.
“If I didn't enjoy being a corpsman, I wouldn't still be
here. I love taking care of people. I hate paperwork, but I
love the results. I love seeing people feel better because
“I saw a lot of people get hurt while I was
growing up, so when I went to boot camp I decided I would do
this job to the best of my abilities,” continued West.
“Because that's how my mother raised me.”
point in his training to become a corpsman, West read and
re-read “The Corpsman's Oath” for more than 14 weeks,
because of significance he saw in his occupation, he said.
According to West, the words of “The Corpsman's
Oath” held a great weight and responsibility that was to be
taken very seriously, much like “The Hippocratic Oath” that
doctors take when they graduate medical school.
was selected to participate in operation bulldog after
graduating from Field Medical Training Battalion East in the
summer of 2003. In May, 2004, West deployed with 3rd
Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment to Afghanistan as a platoon
corpsman. He returned from the deployment, Dec. 2004, and
was selected to go through an accelerated Emergency Medical
West utilized his emergency
training by working in ambulances and emergency care in
Norfolk, Va., with the Navy, before attaching to 3rd Bn. 6th
Reg. again for a second combat deployment with the Marine
Corps. Promptly after checking into 3rd. Bn., 6th Reg., West
began work ups to prepare for Iraq.
thing I've learned is that when you get to a new unit you
have to learn the rhythm of it and get into it. They won't
conform to your way of doing things so the best way to get
along with people and become a part of the team is just to
do things their way,” West said. “I've made a lot of friends
along the way by doing that.”
He arrived in Iraq in
Sept. 2006, and after being selected by the battalion
commander, served as the personal security detail corpsman
until 3rd Bn. 6th Reg. left Iraq in April 2007.
Feb. 2008, West went on limited duty due to post traumatic
stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries suffered during
his Iraq deployment. However, it didn't stop him from being
a corpsman or continuing to seek out opportunities to deploy
and work with Marines. West re-enlisted in the Navy for six
more years, Oct. 2009.
“You see and do a lot of
things in this job, and you have to have a sense of humor,
otherwise you'll lose your mind,” he said. “I have worked
for some really good people and had really good people train
me. That's part of what has kept me going through all these
In Dec. 2009, West received orders to 2nd
Marine Division, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion and
deployed to South America as part of Special-Purpose Marine
Air-Ground Task Force, Continuing Promise 2010, before being
sent to II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group for
his third combat deployment.
Now as the team
corpsman for his own embedded training team, West works
within the Border Advisory Team 2, helping to train Afghans
as well as providing the skills of an experienced corpsman
to the Marines he works with.
“He's a Corpsman
dedicated to his Marines,” 1st Lt. Lee T. Robertson, team
leader, ETT 2, BAT 2. “He's just so passionate about what he
does and how he does things. He knows how to handle himself
in every sort of situation and is a welcome addition to the
Embedded Training Team 2 is composed of only
three Marines and a corpsman who mentor, train and guide
Afghan Border Police on a daily basis.
by ourselves with the Afghan police and the skills that HM2
West are a vital part of completing our mission,” continued
Robertson, a native of Harleysville, Pa.
So far, West
has spent every day of the deployment working with the same
small group of Marines. According to him, his purpose as a
Corpsman never changes, but the level of camaraderie on this
particular deployment is higher than most.
the reason I keep going and what keeps me motivated is
pretty simple,” he said. “It's these Marines, and wanting to
do the best for them. You get to do more and go more places
than anyone else in the Navy. You are only limited by
yourself in this job.”
More photos available below
By USMC Cpl. Daniel Wulz
Regional Command Southwest
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