Corpsman or Marine? - Page 2

December 29th, 2004  
Lil Hulk 1988
I might have a little experience with this topic....

Our Corpsman (in Battalion Recon, Force and Battalion were different when I was still active) in our team was required, like the rest of us, to have the ability and willingness to fight. They are assigned weapons and secondary weapons if heavy weapons are assigned to a team that was assigned to interdiction duty. Getting the chance to go to indoc is easier for a Corpsman, but that is because most do not even consider Recon, remember, they have an option to goto BUD/S too.

Corpsman is a tough job, with alot of psycological stress. Sit all day trying to patch up the Marine that was your Team Leader just seconds ago just to watch him die can get to you. Remember that when it maybe "easier" to get into Recon or BUD/S.
December 30th, 2004  
I figured it'd be a lot tougher psychologically, which is why I decided that I'm gonna stick with my original plan to go with the Marine Corps.

I'd much rather not have everyone depending on me to save someone's life in a way that requires skills that are far beyond my comprehension.

Thanks for all of your help.
December 30th, 2004  
Jason Bourne
read "Force Recon Diary 1969-70" it was a great book about a Corpsman who served with Force Recon in Nam and he describes how he got in. as for me you might see me in Force Recon in the future as that is what i am gonna try to get into.
December 30th, 2004  
I wasnt recon, but I can tell ya that the Corpsmen attached to us did everything we did, had the opportunities to go to the same schools, carried all the same stuff, EVERYTHING. I have also known some Corpsman that were crap birds. It again all depends upon what kinda person you are, what you are willin to do and how far you are willin to take it.
January 3rd, 2005  
and remember the easiest route isn't often the best or most rewarding way to make a career
December 24th, 2010  
DOC, One of Many

Topic: Perhaps I am Too Late Today...

Perhaps I am too late today; however, I hope that I am able to help the next person that asks this or a similar question. I got out after the Gulf War. (It is amazing how it feels like yesterday and yet, my education tells me it has been more than a few years.) My experience extends to participating in the development of the current use field medical service bag as well as serving in a wide variety of capacities in both the Division and Force Service Support Groups. I graduated in the 90th percentile of all the schools I attended which included far more than just Field Medical Service School at Camp Pendleton.

Firstly, those looking for the easy way need not apply; we don't want you. If The Corps is looking for a few good men, we are even fewer and when the best in the world need help, they -and my brothers and sisters; contrary to popular belief, we HM's are not bullet proof- deserve better than someone looking for an easy way to anything.

The Marine Corps Memorial is of particular import here because the footprints every Corpsman must seek to follow are evident there. Pharmacist Mate 2nd class -as Corpsman were titled at the time vice HM- John Bradley was there. He is the man behind Harland Bock, second on the right hand side and to the right rear of Rene Gagnon. Strank, Sousley, and Hayes complete the group all behind Gagnon on the left hand side of the flagpole. He was not there seeking glory or an easy ticket or a uniform. He was there because he was needed and as evidence of a claim to The Title, few things speak as strongly as his very anonymity; don't expect any glory.

The Hospital Corpsman that have served, are serving, or will serve in the Fleet Marine Force have a fine tradition of service and sacrifice. There are more Congressional Medals of Honor and Navy Crosses in our history than anywhere else. Nevertheless, a quick survey will serve to demonstrate that an overwhelming number of these awards are POSTHUMOUS. When others take cover, you will move to fire, to a place the enemy has already found and often in clear view and -until recently- armed with only a side arm most of the time because that is where your brother has fallen knowing full well that when you get there, you may find that there is nothing you can do medically. Nevertheless, this man will not be shot again if I have anything to say about it; this man will die comforted by your words and secure in the knowledge that we do not leave anyone behind.

You may find you can save him when you get there; nevertheless, the very life saving work that he needs is almost certain to cause pain. Should it not, bringing him to a safe secondary treatment location certainly will. Throughout the making of someone nicknamed DOC, you will be told that the wounded will be brought to you or some such nonsense. Often, it will be the very volume of return fire that will make it possible to rescue someone. Even in peacetime, the danger to others might be such that only you are trained to effect the rescue while minimizing the risk of further injury to the wounded.

John Bradley returned home from the Second World War to his family's funeral home business and never again spoke of the war. His son's quest for knowledge became the book Flags of Our Fathers. I am certain that the training would change anyone that sought to become a Corpsman for all the wrong reasons; I have only sought here to speak plainly and clearly. If a Corpsman is treated with any deference at all it is because your brothers and sisters know that you will never stop trying to keep them alive and, failing that, that they would never die alone.

I am forty now. However, I still wear a high and tight, I still wear collared shirts almost exclusively and, generally, tucked in (I do forget sometimes) and my feet dread anything but boots or dress shoes. I am very large and muscular and yet, still able to run three miles in about 26 - 27 minutes. Quite a change from the 17 year old kid who could do sub 4 minute miles and that began lifting weights in order to be able to do more than rescue myself. It is not a fetish or an affectation. It is a symbol for those in the know. I am very much a liberal in as much as many have died so that police states or dictatorships do not rule over any population and, often, people that are just getting to know me, are surprised that I am a Veteran.

I was what was termed at the time "Marine Regs" and wore my Dress Green Alpha (or Charlies or Bravos; I really do miss my woolly pully) with great pride knowing both the honor and responsibility that it represented. Although I am not innocent of resentment, on more than one occasion, looked at the Plan of the Day and the line that specified the Uniform of the day said Dress Green _______ with the equivalent Blue as optional wear. Every Marine (with the exception of the honor recruit) has to buy his or her own Dress Blue set with at least two pairs of buttons (anodized for non-inspection wear and solid brass for inspections) and the cost is extraordinary. Although I never saw anyone without the basics at the least, I often wonder if everyone around me felt the same way when the staff NCOs’ wore their formal dinner dress. I came to the realization that, like I imagine PH2 John Bradley, when it counted, all of the dress uniform envy would not matter one iota.

To those who say that Marine boot is harder I would ask that they consider what follows: The result of every PCS was not the exchange of memories of other postings but the opportunity to prove myself yet again. Neither I nor my brothers and sisters had the opportunity to dedicate fourteen weeks to learn the art and science of combat. Instead, we are saddled with knowledge of little or no use unless embarked and deprived of the guided practice under expert tutelage of skills that may one day save more than just one life. Civilians take over six months to learn what HMs must learn in three months. To achieve the level of training that I carried around would take over two years and at the end, they are recognized as EMT-Paramedics. We had months of 18 hour days (no one seems to remember that one still has to stand a post and that there are exams to study for) to pick up even more medical knowledge and learn as much as we could from our DIs (generally, one experienced HM (E6 or above) and one very outstanding and dedicated Marine DI that appreciated the importance of making good Corpsman) about being Marines. The school cannot be made into a de jure boot camp as far too many senior Corpsman find that they must attend the school to continue their careers even as, for the raw recruit just out of HM school, it may well be a de facto boot camp. It was a long time before I could feel competent enough to be more than a burden to my fire team and it is only recently that HMs have begun to be trained in the Marine Corps Martial Arts System. I envy those who could focus on learning their combatant skills and I hope the Commandant reads this: open the School of Infantry to HMs as a way of providing the skills that can make all the difference when the chips are down and let the Field Medical Service School become about medicine.
December 24th, 2010  
DOC, One of Many

Topic: Perhaps I am Too Late Today...II

To those who seek to join any specwar unit: The designator HM-8404 is insufficient. Therefore, the discussion of easy or hard is pointless. HM-8404 designated personnel must obtain HM-8427 and eventually obtain HM-8403. These designators, respectively Field Medicine Technician, Reconnaissance Corpsman, and, Reconnaissance Independent Duty Corpsman require an extensive pathway of training that includes not only Amphibious Reconnaissance School but also an extensive course in diving medicine as well as the joint special operations trauma medic course. All these courses have further prerequisites and the Dive and Jump qualifications must be maintained for the designator to be retained, which translates into little or no shore duty. Moreover, in the past, independent duty technicians from the surface force could achieve the designator 8403 by completing FMSS. This is no longer true: the designator 8427 must be achieved first and only endorsement from the MarCorSpecWar community to HQMC will result in the award of the designator after which, the candidate may still have to attend the Joint Special operations medical Sergeant course. In fact, the equivalent NavSpecWar designators 8492 (for 8427) and 8491 (for 8403) may be the only individuals who may serve in either capacity; however, how likely is a SEAL to fit in? This last, I defer to others. Nevertheless, I recall reading somewhere that you'd had better want it because the training is designed to make sure you do. Incidentally, SEAL team members get the shirts and the big badge etc.. MarCorSpecWar operators get Naval Jump Wings and a scuba bubble that is meaningless except to those in the know and you can't impress them with a uniform, a haircut, or a t-shirt. I still have two pairs of UDT shorts that still fit and that I treasure. I treasure them not because they say anything to anyone else, I treasure them because of what they say to me. Although it is clear that today's Corpsman are trained better, it is deplorable that the reason is experience paid for in blood.

I have a long day tomorrow but I've had longer. I have given thanks for what I am, what I have been, what I know, what I have learned, where I am, and, where I have been. Tonight, I will give thanks for those that have come after me. I will do so because, while I began inspired by rage; rage at someone calling my time in the service easy. Indeed, I had not felt such rage since my ex-father in law (himself an Army Medic with a tour in Korea and two in Vietnam and the PTSD and Survivor's Guilt to show for his sacrifice) called me rented (as if I was some kind of *****) I have found some peace in having my say tonight. I hope it helps someone see that one can achieve much quietly (I do not mean that in the sense of talk as I am quite chatty myself but rather in the sense of glory or uniforms) and without boastfulness but also that the moments one might be most proud of come while in utilities and often have a high price. One Last Thing: long ago, before name tapes on utilities, if someone shouted HEY MARINE! It was enough. Even the Commandant would come to help; nevertheless, when he got there, he would find several Corpsman already there. St. Peter might find that the streets of heaven are guarded by United States Marines but you had better believe that every "DOC" stands ready to stand a post.