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Corpsmen, We Call Them Doc
by U.S. Navy Pfc. Nicholas Rhoades - June 30, 2012

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IWAKUNI, Japan (6/15/2012) - Navy Corpsmen and guests gathered in celebration of their 114th birthday here at the Club Iwakuni Ballroom June 15, 2012.

Seaman Aaron Chrostowski (left) and Petty Officer Third Class Andrew Barr, Robert M. Casey Branch Health Clinic corpsmen, stand solemnly behind an empty chair during the Corpsman Ball in the Club Iwakuni Ballroom here June 15, 2012. The table honors fallen corpsmen. Photo by U.S. Navy Pfc. Nicholas Rhoades
Seaman Aaron Chrostowski (left) and Petty Officer Third Class Andrew Barr, Robert M. Casey Branch Health Clinic corpsmen, stand solemnly behind an empty chair during the Corpsman Ball in the Club Iwakuni Ballroom here June 15, 2012. The table honors fallen corpsmen. Photo by U.S. Navy Pfc. Nicholas Rhoades

“The overall mission of the ball is to help us remember what our heritage is,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Luke R. Peet, committee president and Robert M. Casey Branch Health Clinic preventative medical technician. “There are a lot of junior sailors here at the clinic, so it's that one day a year to take time from the clinic and to reflect on everything that is related to the overall awesomeness of being corpsmen.”

The corpsmen displayed many traditions in their ball, including the bell to represent high ranking officers entering or exiting the deck, a cake-cutting ceremony, an empty chair to represent fallen corpsmen and a recitation of the Corpsman Pledge.

“When a corpsman graduates ‘A' school, he recites the Corpsman Pledge and the pledge brings up everything that you need to do your job correctly,” said Peet. “Every year at the Corpsmen Ball, we renew that oath that we took so it can remind us of what we need to do to accomplish the mission and fill the role of being a United States Navy corpsmen.” Corpsmen all work toward the same goal, but perform a variety of tasks in order to complete their mission of keeping service members healthy and mission capable.

“The corpsmen rate is unlike any other billet or specialties in the military. Only corpsmen are trained to do all the different things they can do,” said Navy Capt. Shawn Niemann, Senior Medical Officer at Branch Health Clinic. “Being the largest rate in the Navy, they can do a multitude of tasks, from the most junior corpsman assisting providers in a normal outpatient call, all the way up to being the only medical provider on a ship or out with Marines and doing all kinds of subspecialty type of jobs.”

Some of the sub-specialty jobs corpsmen perform include preventative medicine, pharmacist technician, radiology technician, and other specialties depending on where a corpsmen is stationed and his or her training skill set.

A corpsman's job will change profoundly depending on where they are in the field, meaning aboard ships, with Marines on the ground, or in garrison. It is the difference between a clinic, full-sized hospital or whether they work alone, in a group, or a full team providing one vital mission, said Niemann.

The Corpsman Ball is an old tradition used to pay respects for their history and what every corpsman can accomplish on a daily basis.

“This ceremony truly represents the hard work that Navy corpsmen have done in the past and all the responsibilities we have to live up to,” said Seaman Seth B. Anderson, corpsman.
Anderson said it was great to see such a variety of people from around base come out to show respect for what corpsmen do. “I had an amazing time being able to celebrate another great and successful year, not only for the clinic, but also for all the Navy corpsmen around the world, past, present and future.”

By U.S. Navy Pfc. Nicholas Rhoades
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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