Friday, March 28, 2008


(note, I didn't write this, just using it by permission, it tells a bit about what I do)

I recently was engaged in a heated argument with a young sergeant during this argument the sergeant said to me “You are just a corpsman” This angered me to no end, as we continued with the patrol I thought about his statement. You are just a Corpsman.

I realized that even though he may have thought he was disrespecting me he paid me one of the highest complements that could be given to a warrior. Yes I am just a Corpsman.

You can call me a squid, pecker checker, sailor you can make fun of my Dixie cup hat and bellbottoms but let me tell you about myself………….

A common description of 8404 hospital corpsmen could be found in the 1980 book, Green Side Out Marine Corps Sea-Stories by H. G. Duncan and W. T. Moore, Jr.

– "A long haired, bearded, Marine-hatin' Sailor with certain medical skills, who would go through the very gates of Hell to tend to a wounded Marine

I have my own symbol the Caduceus. It is very old and understanding its origins can be somewhat confusing. The link between the caduceus of Hermes (Mercury) and medicine seems to have arisen by the seventh century A.D., when Hermes had come to be linked with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as the sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as "practitioners of the hermetic arts". There the caduceus was the magic staff of Hermes (Mercury), the god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and theft, and so was a symbol of heralds and commerce, not medicine. The words caduity & caduceus imply temporality, perishable ness and senility, while the medical profession espouses renewal, vitality and health.. Like the staff of Asclepius, the caduceus became associated with medicine through its use as a printer’s mark, as printers saw themselves as messengers of the printed word and diffusers of knowledge (hence the choice of the symbol of the messenger of the ancient gods). A major reason for the current popularity of the caduceus as a medical symbol was its official adoption as the insignia for the Medical Department of the United States Army in 1902.

I myself think that the Hermes angle is better because, I will sell my soul to save your life. If I have nothing left to use I will invent a way to save your life, I will travel through anything including the very gates of hell to save you and I have often stolen you from the very hands of death.

But I am just a Corpsman.

I am Francis Junior Piece who while continuously under fire while carrying out the most dangerous volunteer assignments, I gained valuable knowledge of the terrain and disposition of troops .Caught in heavy enemy rifle and machinegun fire which wounded a corpsman and 2 of the 8 stretcher bearers who were carrying 2 wounded marines to a forward aid station I quickly took charge of the party, carried the newly wounded men to a sheltered position, and rendered first aid. After directing the evacuation of 3 of the casualties I stood in the open to draw the enemy's fire and, with my weapon blasting, enabled the litter bearers to reach cover. Turning my attention to the other 2 casualties I was attempting to stop the profuse bleeding of 1 man when a Japanese fired from a cave less than 20 yards away and wounded my patient again. Risking my own life to save my patient I deliberately exposed myself to draw the attacker from the cave and destroyed him with the last of my ammunition, Then lifting the wounded man to my back, I advanced unarmed through deadly rifle fire across 200 feet of open terrain. Despite exhaustion and in the face of warnings against such a suicidal mission, I again traversed the same fire-swept path to rescue the remaining Marine. On the following morning, I led a combat patrol to the sniper nest and, while aiding a stricken Marine, was seriously wounded. Refusing aid for myself I directed treatment for the casualty, at the same time maintaining protective fire for my comrades. Completely fearless, completely devoted to the care of my patients, I inspired the entire battalion.

But I am just a Corpsman.

I am John Bradley who is immortalized in the Marine Corps memorial. I am the one with an empty canteen pouch. It is empty because I gave the last of my water and canteen to a wounded Marine 24 hours earlier.
But I am just a Corpsman.

In August of 1942, the first major USMC assault landings against the JapaneseEmpire occurred in the Solomon Islands, Pacific. The island chosen for the invasion was Guadalcanal. As they moved inland, four Marines were walking point into the jungle. Advancing into an open area without cover, they came under heavy fire from the entrenched Japanese. All four Marines were wounded but managed to crawl into a shell crater, about fifty yards from where they had emerged from the jungle. I ran from cover into the crater with the wounded Marines, and ran back to cover, under fire. Having dressed the wounds of the Marine, I sprinted back for another, only this time I was hit. Not stopping to dress my own wounds, I carried the second Marine to cover receiving a second wound. After giving aid to the Marine, I was hit for a third time going into the crater. Staggering toward the tree line with the third Marine, I was again struck by enemy fire. When the third Marine's wounds were dressed, I started after the last Marine in the crater. I still did not stop to care for my own wounds. In a final valiant effort, I stumbled toward the crater, where I was brought down by concentrated enemy machine gun fire. I lunged forward into the crater falling across the fourth Marine, finally giving up I life. But I am just a CorpsmanFifteen Corpsmen were counted among the dead following the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983.

But they were just Corpsmen

I am John Harlan Willis who was constantly imperiled by artillery and mortar fire from strong and mutually supporting pillboxes and caves studding Hill 362 in the enemy's cross-island defenses, I administered first aid to the many marines wounded during the furious close-in fighting until I was struck by shrapnel and was ordered back to the battle-aid station. Without waiting for official medical release, I quickly returned to my company and during a savage hand-to-hand enemy counterattack daringly advanced to the extreme frontlines under mortar and sniper fire to aid a Marine lying wounded in a shellhole. Completely unmindful of my own danger as the Japanese intensified their attack, I calmly continued to administer blood plasma to my patient, promptly returning the first hostile grenade which landed in the shell-hole while he was working and hurling back 7 more in quick succession before the ninth one exploded in my hand and instantly killed me.

But I am just a Corpsman.

I am fearless, dedicated, tough and caring. I have delivered babies and treated the old. On submarines I have performed appendectomies even though I am no surgeon, I do this because it is what needs to be done. I will tranfer my own blood to your body from mine if that is what I have to do. I have the skills to keep you breathing even if you have no face. I will stop the blood from leaving your body in an singleminded effort to save your life while ignoring everything else including my own safety.When you are injured there are three things you scream out Oh God ,Momma and Corpman up. The first two usually don’t show up and the only thing that will stop me from getting to you is death itself. I have taken an oath to do this. I take that oath very serious.

I am just a Corpsman.

I have always been with you don’t you remember? Was I not there during the freezing winter in the Chosin resevoir. Did I not help you semaphore 100s of injured Marines. Did I not fight as hard as you did on Okinawa. In Belleau wood did I not keep you alive so that you could continue to do what you do best? Do you not recall during the TET offensive how I carried all that extra weight in the form of equipment to keep you alive? Was I not in Somalia? In desert storm did I not repel the enemy out of Kuwait with you.. Im sure you realize that I am still here with you fighting next to you in Iraq. I have spilled my blood here too. I have saved your life here as well. Don’t you remember?Was I not in Fallujah, Ramadi and Habaniyah. I know you realize that right now I am on a mountain in Afghanistan . I live in that battle position with you, I sleep next to you. I patrol with you, I suffer where you suffer.

I am just a Corpman.

I stand by you with pride don’t I deserve the same? have I not earned your respect?.I cry when you cry, I cheer when you cheer. Your battles have always been mine. I practice medicine through firepower. I will gladly take a life to save yours and give mine in your stead. That is what I am here for. I am just a Corpman. When the Marine Corps Hymn plays I stand a little taller and a tear wells up in my eye because I know that it is also my song. I have earned that by blood. You did not give it to me, don’t you see? Just like the Blood represented by the stripe running down your leg my Caduess is also red.

I am just a Corpsman

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