CLB-31 dental officer recognized for exceptional leadership, service
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan – “The great thing about removing wisdom teeth is that the procedure is the solution,” said Navy Lt. Nicholas Crossland as he stood outside the Camp Hansen Dental Clinic on a sunny Friday afternoon. “Most dental procedures, such as fillings, may not always treat the patient’s pain, but with wisdom teeth, you know what the problem is and you know how to fix it. And once it’s fixed, you know it’s fixed. Its instant gratification and I love that.”
Crossland, a dental officer with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, is passionate about his work and the capability it provides to deployed Marines. His passion was recognized in a ceremony where he was awarded the Lt. J. G. Weedon E. Osborne Memorial Award at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan, May 4, 2018.
“I train physically and mentally to treat anyone that walks through the door,” said Crossland. “It’s all about giving my all to support the Marines and Sailors out in the field so they can do their job and keep up safe.”
Crossland, a native of Charleston, South Carolina and a graduate of Clemson University and Medical University of South Carolina, deployed with CLB-31 during the 31st MEU’s 17.2 Fall Patrol and 18.1 Spring Patrol of the Indo-Pacific region. During the deployments, Crossland provided critical dental surgery capabilities to the unit, including providing fillings, pulling and repairing damaged teeth for the Marines and Sailors of the MEU while on-ship.
“I do what I do to provide care and make things just a little bit better for that 18- or 19-year-old Marine who’s deployed to the front, living and fighting to make our lives a little bit safer,” said Crossland. “Making sure that Marine isn’t in pain, can eat and stay healthy while focusing on the mission.”
The award is named after Medal of Honor recipient Weedon E. Osborne, who received the nation’s highest military honor after the Battle of Belleau Wood during World War II. The Osborne award is given to junior dental officers in operational billets within the Fleet Marine Force who exhibit superior leadership while serving within field medical service. Crossland, who has served with CLB-31 since 2016, credits his family, friends and fellow service members for giving him the drive to excel as a medical professional and as a Sailor.
“I’m truly honored and excited to receive this award,” said Crossland. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and peers with the 31st MEU.”
Navy Cmdr. Jose Suris, the director of dental services for 3rd Dental Battalion, was Crossland’s officer-in-charge at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Dental Clinic before Crossland deployed with the MEU. Suris said Crossland’s technical proficiency, positive attitude and leadership maximized the critical surgical capability he provided for the base.
“He has a very ‘can-do’ attitude and that makes him very easy to work with,” said Suris. “It has been very rewarding to see his potential fulfilled and to watch him grow as a medical officer.”
Navy Capt. Sook Chai, the commanding officer of 3rd Dental Battalion, said Crossland’s work ethic and leadership qualities stood out to the battalion’s leadership, which lead them to submit his name for the award.
“Lt. Crossland, when I first met him, I was impressed by his demeanor,” said Chai. “He comes from a military family; he has great military bearing and team leadership skills. He is one of those junior officers that you know will go very far.”