MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Two hundred ninety-six hospital corpsmen graduated the Field Medical Service Technician course, June 24.
The eight-week course at the Field Medical Training Battalion introduces hospital corpsmen to daily Marine Corps operations through hands-on training and interaction with Marines. Marine instructors are chosen as trainers based on combat experience, rank and their infantry background.
The students learn a variety of skills during the course including weapons procedures, basic marksmanship, basic infantry skills and field medical techniques.
Sgt. Thomas Welsh, 24, from Decatur, Ill., and an instructor with FMTB said the students conduct up to four field operations during training. They conduct patrols and simulate reactions to events like direct fire and treatment of wounded comrades.
“The practice they get here is what they’re going to use once they get to the Marine Fleet Forces,” Welsh said. “During training they learn one thing, then we go right into practical application and they start working on what they just learned.”
Welsh said the Marine instructors guide and mentor the hospital corpsmen. He said as the course continues, sailors will start to emulate their instructors by displaying the leadership traits they picked up from their mentors.
“You have to be that shining diamond in the middle of the coal pile because a lot of the sailors have never worked with Marines before. You have to give them a good mentor to grow off of so they can be good sailors in the future,” Welsh said.
Welsh said 80 percent of the graduates will be assigned to active Fleet Marine Force units while the rest will return to reserve units.
Welsh said it is important that hospital corpsmen are efficient in providing medical aid in the field because they are going to deployable units.
“A lot of the guys that I’ve put through the class already have gone to their units, and two months later they’ve deployed,” Welsh said. “I have a bunch of students in Afghanistan right now, and they’re emailing me and telling me about their stories and how I helped out. That’s my sense of accomplishment.”
Sgt. John Shafer, 25, of New Braunfels, Texas, and an instructor at FMTB said his former students are in the FMF.
“It feels good knowing that somehow I made a difference, whether they are teaching other junior corpsmen or teaching Marines what they know or if they’re actually saving someone’s life,” Shafer said. “It’s a good feeling. It’s humbling to say the least, that we’re making a difference.”
Welsh said the training regiment for FMTB sailors is continuously advancing, resulting in fewer casualties.
“We do not have to deal with as many deaths because now we have these corpsmen that are well trained. They know what to do, they know how to operate, and they’re out there saving lives. Now we’re able to bring more people back alive than in previous wars,” Welsh said.
Seamen Recruit Evan Kanack, 19, from White Water, Wis., a student in the FMST course spoke about the pride he feels after completing the course.
“Graduating from this course is really worth it after being here the past few weeks. After all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into it you really feel like you’ve earned the title of Doc. Even if people don’t refer to you like that, you still know what you have accomplished,” said Kanack.