MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Sailors and Marines celebrated the 116th birthday of the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps during a ceremony held aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 13, 2014.
The ceremony included several speakers, a cake cutting, and Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsmen who jumped into the ocean from a helicopter, swam ashore and built a battlefield cross in memory of fallen sailors and Marines.
More than 800 Marines, sailors, and their families attended the annual ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton. The birthday is celebrated, in some capacity, on every military installation where corpsmen are stationed throughout the world.
“I love seeing all the people come together on the birthday,” said Chief Petty Officer Brandie Mendoza, a chair member of the celebration and corpsman with Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. “Seeing their reactions to the ceremony has to be one of my favorite parts.”
The ceremony is held to honor the history of the Hospital Corps and the role corpsmen, past and present, play in the conflicts throughout the history of the United States.
“This is a very important celebration,” said Command Master Chief Petty Officer Eric Faulkner, the Command Master Chief of Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton. “It keeps the new generation of corpsmen attached to their history and traditions in regards to what it means to be a Hospital Corpsman.”
The ceremony started with the dropping of SARC’s, from a CH-46E Sea Knight into the ocean. Several speakers addressed the audience and a traditional cake was served as the SARC’s swam ashore.
The cake was cut with a ceremonial sword and the first three pieces were served to the guest of honor, the youngest corpsman and the eldest corpsman.
Finally, when the SARC’s reached the shore, they walked to the stage and built a battlefield cross in honor of fallen sailors and Marines.
“I thought the ceremony went fantastic today,” said Faulkner. “From the SARC’s coming in and building the battle cross, to all the special guests and speakers, I think it turned out to be a fantastic event with a great turnout.”
The ceremony taught young corpsmen and families about the different roles that corpsmen hold and the importance of each. Corpsmen in five utility uniforms came on stage and explained what corpsmen wearing each uniform specialize in and how it correlates to the rest of the Hospital Corps and the other branches of service.
“My favorite part about being involved in this is watching the young sailors come out and enjoy themselves,” said Faulkner. “This is an opportunity for us to break away from our daily tasks and pay homage and recognize just who we are.”
Thanks to the efforts of Faulkner, Mendoza and all the others who helped to organize the event, sailors and Marines were able to learn more about the Hospital Corps and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.