POHANG, Republic of Korea -- POHANG, Republic of Korea – Navy Corpsmen have rushed into battle alongside Marines since the Navy Hospital Corps was established on June 17, 1898. In every conflict, from the Spanish-American War to Operation Inherent Resolve, hospital corpsmen have been providing medical support and saving Marine’s lives on the front lines.
Hospital corpsmen with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistic Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, celebrated the corpsman’s 119th birthday with military police officers from Bravo Company, 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Headquarters Group, III MEF, at Camp Mujuk, Pohang, Republic of Korea, June 17, 2017.
“There isn’t a better way to celebrate the corpsman birthday than with the Marines,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman (Fleet Marine Force) Edgar E. Cuenca, a preventive medicine technician with Command Element, III MEF.
The celebration started with the senior enlisted advisor of 3rd LE Bn, 1st Sgt. Derrick Benbow, expressing his appreciation for everything corpsmen have done for Marines in the past 119 years.
Benbow stated in his speech that throughout Marine Corps and Navy history, corpsmen were awarded 22 Medals of Honor, 174 Navy Crosses, 31 Distinguished Service Medals, 946 Silver Stars, and 1,582 Bronze Stars for heroics under fire. Also, 20 Navy ships have been named after hospital corpsmen throughout U.S. history.
After Benbow’s speech, the Marines and Sailors dropped to the floor in a push-up position. Benbow then lead the room as they conducted 10 four-count pushups in honor of Navy Corpsmen past and present.
“When the Marines dropped down to do pushups, we wanted to demonstrate our brotherhood with the Marines, and we got some with them,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (FMF) Jeffery R. Bowman, an independent duty corpsman, with 3rd Med Bn, 3rd MLG, III MEF.
During the birthday ceremony, tradition dictates the youngest corpsman and the oldest corpsman cut and share the first slice of birthday cake. The oldest Sailor present was Cuenca, 43, a Las Vegas native, and the youngest was Hospitalman (FMF) Joseph E. Clack, 21, with 3rd Med Bn, 3rd MLG, III MEF and a native of Chester, South Carolina.
“I feel really honored and proud,” Cuenca said. “The corpsman’s birthday means a lot to me. I been in the Navy for 19 years and each year I like to celebrate it with my brethren.”
After the ceremony, the Marines and Sailors conversed with one another while enjoying a meal of steak, mash potatoes, peas and bread rolls.
“The care you provide our Marines and Sailors, both in combat and in garrison, reflects your great commitment to excellence,” said Gen. Robert B. Neller, the commandant of the Marine Corps, in a recent press release. “Congratulations on 119 years and thank you for everything you do for our sea services.
During the 119-year relationship between corpsmen and Marines, the Hospital Corps has become the largest and most decorated rate in the Navy, with more than 25,000 corpsmen within its ranks.