120 years of the Corpsman Celebration

by Lance Cpl. Nathan Maysonet
3rd Marine Division

U.S. Navy Corpsman with 3rd Marine Division celebrated the Corpsman Ball for their 120th birthday on June 15, 2018 on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan. The Navy Corpsman ball is meant to commemorate the U.S. Sailors that have come before them and to celebrate with the Corpsmen that are currently in Okinawa, Japan.

”The [U.S. Naval Hospital Corps] is the only enlisted corps in the Navy,” Said Petty Officer 2nd Class David Kamaal a field corpsman with 3rd Marine Division. “The Navy has 44 Medal of Honor recipients in total, of that number, corpsmen have earned 22 of those medals.”

Corpsmen were officially recognized as an organized unit of the medical department by an act of congress on June 17, 1898.

“In the military I think it is best we stay rooted and remember that the intent is to bring people together to share stories, to invigorate, rededicate, and move boldly into the future,” said 3rd Marine Division U.S. Navy chaplain Capt. James Johnson a former U.S. Navy corpsman.

During the Corpsman ball there is a cake cutting ceremony. This ceremony consists of the oldest and youngest corpsmen sharing a slice of cake.

“It’s more than just a piece of birthday cake; it is the passing on of tradition from the oldest [corpsman] to the youngest corpsman,” said Johnson, a native of Lake Park, Minnesota.

Formal dining nights give the corpsmen a chance to experience their history, from loblolly boys to hospital corpsman.

According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexander Moreno. The term loblolly boys was given to corpsmen back in 1814 when the surgeons assistant would help feed the patients in sick bays on ship. The porridge they served was called loblolly, which resulted in the nicknaming of the assistants to loblolly boys.

Although the corpsmen hold their ball only once a year, their pride in what they do and sense of brotherhood will last a life time.

“It’s like a brother hood that I’m a part of, and it’s finally starting to hit home,” said Moreno, a native of Yuma, Arizona. “[As a corpsman], you take care of so many real world problems at so many different levels, and it makes me proud to be a corpsman.”

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