FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- They wear desert pattern digital utilities, tan boots to match, and carry the fighting load of a Marine, but their left breast pocket reads U.S. Navy. Corpsmen are considered brothers-in-arms to Marines and an invaluable asset to any Marine unit.
Corpsmen were spread among every unit at Exercise Rolling Thunder in Fort Bragg, and responded to all injuries and sicknesses in the field. Their goal for the training was to support the 10th Marine Regiment’s operational tempo.
“Troops need to work,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Lynn Chaplin, a corpsman with Headquarters Battery, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, from Rosenhayn, New Jersey. “If they’re not feeling well, they’re not productive. We need to keep the Marines in the fight.”
The corpsmen brought enough equipment to cover most medical emergencies, except those requiring a surgeon. Their equipment ranged from basics like Band-Aids and pain medication to field diagnostic machines and ambulances.
Petty Officer First Class Rob Mackey with the unit and Rockaway, New Jersey native, said typical field injuries they see include rolled ankles, lacerations, and fevers.
In addition to providing basic medical care, the corpsmen of Headquarters Battery, 10th Marines, also conducted a mass casualty event on Oct. 25, 2014. The training allowed Marines to practice battlefield trauma techniques on their fellow Marines, who simulated lost limbs, blindness, shrapnel wounds, and other battlefield injuries.
The corpsmen said the Marines did well with applying what they learned during the event. Many Marines expressed a desire for more advanced training in life-saving techniques.
“I would like to go to a combat life-saver class, so I can be better prepared to help my fellow Marines if I were to deploy,” said Lance Cpl. Marshall Little, a fire direction control man with 10th Marines, from Crestview, Florida.
While aiding the Marines in their training, the corpsmen had the opportunity to do some learning of their own during their time in the field.
“Rolling Thunder gives us a lot of great training opportunities that we don’t typically get,” said Mackey. “We have sailors practicing driving with night vision, setting up tents, and getting familiar with the equipment we would bring with us to a deployed environment.”
The field environment also allowed Marines and sailors an opportunity to build team camaraderie. The sailors took time to share the wealth of knowledge and experience they had between them, said Chaplin.
“It’s good for teams to get to the field and get to know one another,” said Chaplin. “The field is the glue that keeps everyone together.”