MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Throughout history, U.S. Marines have seen many battlefields. From World War I and WWII to Vietnam and countless fights that have shaped the story of the country. But those Marines never went to war alone; they were joined by a group who perhaps they can call their best friends, their “Docs.”
Navy Corpsmen have played vital roles in almost every battle Marines have fought. Since 1950, a fair share of those field medical professionals have earned their place on the battlefield next to U.S. Marines after graduating from Field Medical Training Battalion West, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
This year marks 65 years since FMTB-West opened its doors to train young Sailors to become field medical service technicians. On Sept. 18, 2015, as FMST Class 2015-040 graduated, and aboard the same Marine Corps installation where it all began, the battalion celebrated its 65th anniversary.
Marines and Sailors, along with family members and loved ones, were part of that celebration. They were joined by past FMTB-West staff members who were invited to be recognized.
“Thank you for paving the way and allowing us to carry on the legacy of the Fleet Marine Force Corpsman,” said Navy Capt. Dan Cornwell, FMTB-West commanding officer. “Because of your hard work and dedication, you provided the foundation for us to build upon.”
Cornwell, who graduated from FMTB-West years ago, spoke about the core mission of the institution.
“There have been many changes since I graduated, but the goal remains the same,” said Cornwell. “Provide the highest quality of instruction in order to save the lives of our Marine Corps brothers.”
Sergeant Maj. Bradley Kasal, Sergeant Major of I Marine Expeditionary Force, was the guest of honor for the graduation and anniversary celebration.
Kasal used the opportunity to express his appreciation for the Navy Corpsmen and thank them for their hard work.
The Navy Cross recipient also addressed the new graduates and said that now that they’ve earned the title of Fleet Marine Force Corpsmen, they need to earn a more important title, the title of “doc” among their Marines. The title that solidifies the trust and long standing bond between Corpsmen and Marines.
The event also included a cake-cutting ceremony, in which the most senior Navy Corpsman present cut the first piece and offered it to the most junior one, similar to the one performed at Marine Corps Birthdays.
Sailors, like their Marine brothers, will continue to share traditions like the cake-cutting ceremony, and FMTB-West will continue to train those young men eager to earn the title of Devil Docs.
“Today FMTB-West is 65 years young,” said Cornwell. “We opened our doors in 1950 and have grown bigger and better with each passing day, and we look forward to the next 65.”