By Vice Adm. Forrest Faison
U.S. Navy Surgeon General and Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
On behalf of the Navy Medicine family, I would like to thank all of our hospital corpsmen and help them commemorate 118 years of excellence.
Since their establishment in 1898, the Hospital Corps has grown exponentially from its first 25 apothecaries to the more than 30,000 corpsmen delivering world-class care to those entrusted to us across the globe.
Today we celebrate the strength, bravery and resilience of our corpsmen that gallantly tend for America’s sons and daughters.
No Marine has ever taken a hill and no Sailor has ever boarded a ship, a submarine or a plane without a “doc” by their side standing ready to heed the call “Corpsman Up!” at a moment’s notice.
The corpsmen entrusted with the care of our Sailors and Marines today are the most highly-trained, highly-qualified force of medical professionals in Navy Medicine’s history.
Since the original school for hospital corpsmen was established in 1902 in Portsmouth, Virginia, to the current Navy Medicine Education and Training command based out of Fort Sam Houston, Texas, hospital corpsmen have played an integral role in contributing to the highest battlefield survival rate in the history of war.
Our corpsmen comprise the largest rate in the Navy; they are the most decorated and some of the most versatile Sailors in the Navy. Twenty-two corpsmen have received the Medal of Honor, among many other awards. Since the end of World War I, 179 corpsmen have been awarded the Navy Cross. Since World War II, more than 1,600 hospital corpsmen have been awarded a Bronze Star, and 959 corpsmen have earned a Silver Star. Twenty naval ships have been named in honor of corpsmen worldwide.
This year, I had the honor of attending a ceremony at which the Silver Star was presented to one of our corpsmen, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alejandro N. Salabarria. I also had the privilege of announcing Chief Hospital Corpsman Jessica Wentlent as the 2015 Navy Shore Sailor of the Year. These two corpsmen are a testament to the excellence of all the brave men and women who wear the caduceus and so selflessly serve our Sailors, Marines, their families and those entrusted to our care.
To the more than 30,000 hospital corpsman serving across the globe today, have a happy birthday and thank you for everything that you do. Happy 118th birthday, Hospital Corps! I am proud of you and honored to serve with you.
Editor’s note: This blog was originally published on Navy Medicine Live on June 16, 2016.