CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Less than two years in the Navy and Seaman Darius L. Evans has found himself serving in a combat zone and participating in a ceremony to celebrate the birth of his illustrious corps.
Twenty-year-old Evans is a member of the Navy’s Hospital Corps and the youngest sailor within Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. This earned him a role in the cake cutting ceremony held here June 17 to honor the 107th birthday of the most decorated job field in naval history.
“I was proud to be part of this ceremony,” the hospitalman and Chicago native said.
Evans referred to the traditional cake cutting ceremony. In today’s ceremony Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division cut the birthday cake and presented the first piece to the oldest Sailor present, Chief Ronald Goforth, signifying the admiration and respect bestowed to those that now carry the proud heritage of the Navy. Goforth then presented the cake to the youngest Sailor present, Evans, signifying the passing of naval heritage to those who follow and will lead the Navy in the future.
“It was an honor to be part of the cake cutting tradition where a piece of cake is passed from the oldest Hospital Corpsmen to the youngest symbolizing the passing of knowledge and the continuation of the Hospital Corps,” the 2003 George W. Collins High School graduate said.
“Throughout my two years, I learned a lot going to schools and participating in various training,” Evans continued. “I also learned a lot from other corpsmen with more experience than me. They taught me tricks and shortcuts that make me more proficient at patient care.”
Sailors, like Evans, with the Hospital Corps have served alongside their Marine brethren in combat since their inception June 17, 1898. During this period, 22 Congressional Medals of Honor have been awarded to its members, most of them posthumously.
“The Hospital Corps provides medical care for Marines, Sailors, dependants and retirees both ashore (in the U.S.) and abroad. Where ever there are Marines and sailors there will always be a corpsman there,” said the division’s Command Master Chief, Master Chief Mark R. Williamson, a 21-year veteran. “We have been doing it for years and we will continue doing it.”
To honor their gallant service and care for wounded brothers-in-arms, Marines with the division joined their corpsman in celebrating this occasion.
“On behalf of the Marines of the 2nd Marine Division, I wish to extend to you congratulations and well-done as you celebrate more than one hundred years of valorous conduct and unwavering medical support,” Huck said in a statement to the corpsmen who have recently deployed with his command in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “We pause to reflect on your honored legacy as this anniversary is a day for Marines to thank you for your service.”
“It is also a day to reflect on those men and women of the Hospital Corps still out on the front lines accomplishing their mission in support of the Global War on Terrorism.”
The trust and respect of their Marine brethren has always been an important aspect to the success of a corpsman’s job according to Evans.
“It is important that we have the trust of the Marines and we trust them,” said Evans who accompanies Marines on patrols and convoys. “This mutual trust helps us ensure the Marines and Sailors come home.”
It takes more than mutual trust and respect to complete their mission though. It takes superb training in the ever-changing medical field.
“Corpsmen who serve with Marines are trained in combat medicine to ensure every Marine or sailor has quality medical care in a combat environment, this ensures quality intervention to save a marine or sailor life,” said Williamson, a Utica, N.Y. native.
“As medicine gets better, we have to train them in its use to better care for their patients,” he continued. “They also learn from personal and passed down experiences.”
Not only do the corpsmen train in medicine, they also train in basic infantry tactics.
“Line corpsmen (corpsmen with the infantry units) are doing what the Marines are doing. They train and live with them,” Williamson explained. “They learn what the Marines do.”
Their training, dedication and service have played a key role in the Marine Corps success over the decades.
“Since 1898, the Hospital Corps has written many chapters in its history replete with honor, duty and self-sacrifice,” Huck said in his message. “The glorious men and women in the medical corps have gone wherever the Marines have gone; they have shared the same hardships, misery, fears and loneliness many miles from their loved ones. Most importantly, however, they have shared in victory. Without our corpsmen, our missions could not be accomplished.”