CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Seaman Matt M. Cannon came to Iraq to serve with the Marines – but now he is making it official.
The Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., native and the other sailors with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, gathered in a formation to become the newest recipients of the Fleet Marine Force certification, symbolized by a silver pin complete with an eagle, globe and anchor centered on the pin.
“We learned much of what we needed from the Marines we work with as well study with the sailors from the Battalion Aid Station,” explained the 2000 Lakeview Fort Oglethorpe High School graduate.
In July of 2000 the Navy enlisted personnel adopted a new tradition, the FMF pin. This certification recognizes Cannon and his fellow sailors who took time out of their busy schedule to master 14 subjects including Marine Corps history and different weapons systems and their maintenance.
The corpsmen of every company in the battalion are an important asset to maintaining a healthy and stable work environment according to Capt. Ed Nevgloski, Weapons Company Commander.
The pin shows they know their Marines they serve with and what it is they do on a daily basis. The corpsmen earn this pin by passing written, oral and practical exams. They go through tests on weapons handling and firing, using a field radio, and knowing how to successfully navigate themselves in different terrain.
“Having the pin shows the Marines you know enough to get out and do what they do,” Cannon explained.
Cannon and the other sailors spent a considerable amount of time learning the knowledge it takes to become certified. They spend time with the Marines they work with along with quizzing each other and working with the BAS training petty officer.
“We spend at least two to three hours per day working with and teaching the sailors,” explained Petty Officer 3rd Class Shandon E. Torress, BAS training petty officer. “It took me almost two years to get my pin and they have done it in five months or less.”
Cannon works a busy schedule with his company as they are on the road everyday but the loss of his free time paid off when he was finally able to display the pin on his uniform.
“The corpsmen in this company blend in and do what all the Marines do out there,” explained Nevgloski. “They have become force multipliers because they are an additional asset, giving us extra sets of eyes and ears.”
Time with the Marines is time well spent for Cannon and the other corpsmen. He was able to learn what he needed to know for his qualification and learned even more about his comrades.
“For me, I came from a hospital and this all has helped me advance in my overall knowledge,” Cannon said.
The dedication of Cannon and his fellow comrades is apparent in the sacrifice of personal time to learn about the Marine Corps after patrolling and fighting in the war against insurgency during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“The Marines have the utmost confidence that the corpsmen can take care of a wide range of injuries or casualties,” Nevgloski explained.