USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Navy corpsmen aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrated the Navy Hospital Corps' birthday June 17, commemorating 108 years of helping sick or injured service members around the world.
"I think the Hospital Corps birthday celebration is significant because of the long, rich history Navy corpsmen have in the military," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (AW/SW) Tonya Carlson, a San Leandro, Calif., native. "The sacrifices that each and every corpsman has made over time, whether they were on ships or on shore with the Marines, can be attributed to one thing...we believe in putting our patients' wellbeing before our own."
Carlson, who has been in the Navy for 14 years, added that even though this celebration was smaller than in previous years, it was still special in many ways.
"The celebration wasn't the same as the Navy Corpsman's Ball, but it was still special," said Carlson. "The ceremony was very personalized, and that gave us [Ronald Reagan corpsmen] the opportunity to feel even closer as a corps."
The celebration began with an invocation and was followed by a few words from both Reagan's Commanding Officer, Capt. Terry B. Kraft and Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CCSG) 7, Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller. After a reading of the history of the Hospital Corps, the event continued with a cake-cutting ceremony.
The cake cutting is traditionally performed by the youngest and oldest corpsmen at the celebration. Hospital Corpsman (AW/SW) Kevin Wuthrich, who is Ronald Reagan's youngest corpsman at 20 years old, said being able to cut the cake gave him goose bumps.
"I feel really proud to be able to take part in this ceremony," said Wuthrich, a Sacramento, Calif., native. "In our history, we [corpsmen] have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and I think it is important to remember those that have gone before us."
Throughout its history, the Hospital Corps has been the most highly decorated enlisted rating in the Navy. Since the rating was established in 1898, Navy corpsmen have earned 22 Medals of Honor, along with thousands of other personal awards, including the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart.
Commissioned in 2003, Ronald Reagan is the Navy's newest Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carrier and departed San Diego Jan. 4 on her maiden deployment.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.