SAN ANTONIO (NNS) -- Two fallen Navy corpsmen were honored during a ceremony dedicating a new barracks to each at the Navy Medicine Training Center aboard Fort Sam Houston, Texas, April 19.
Both were killed while supporting contingency operations.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jaime Jaenke was killed June 5, 2006, by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 25 out of Fort McCoy, Wisc., Jaenke served as a unit medic. NMCB 25 personnel were involved in building schools, housing, airstrips and water wells among other projects in an effort to assist in restoring Iraq's infrastructure. Janke completed 25 missions, escorting 375 personnel in convoys across the country.
Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class John Fralish was killed Feb. 6, 2006, by enemy fire during a fire fight with insurgents while on patrol in Afghanistan. Assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, out of Marine Corps Base, Hawaii, Fralish served as a medic to Marines supporting provincial reconstruction and stabilization efforts in that country.
Calling a corpsman "Doc" is an honor fellow service members bestow on a Hospital Corpsman, communicating their trust that person will care for them. In the field a service member's life is in the "Doc's" hands because immediate access to a physician is not always possible, according to Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Robert Browning, who assisted Seabees from San Antonio-based NMCB-22 construct the cement pad and raise the flagpole for the Jaenke and Fralish barracks.
"It doesn't happen out of school, it happens when you bond with your Seabees, Sailors and Marines," said Browning. "It's a wonderful feeling. Remembering the first time he was called 'Doc.'"It gives me a sense of pride to drive by and see the flagpole."
"I'm glad that we can honor two corpsmen - two 'Docs,'" said Builder 1st Class Gary Ondrej, in charge of the flagpole project.
Several hundred Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers and civilians attended the event, where former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (ret.) Joe Campa served as guest speaker.
"All of us here know of the sacrifice these two individuals made while serving in distant lands," he said. "But the stories of these two S101ailors go well beyond the sacrifice they made on the battlefield. Their stories are of a young man and young woman who had a great love for their families, their country and the meaningful work they found in being hospital corpsman."
Helping people and serving her country was what Jaenke loved, according to her cousin, Tifani Eisentrager. As a civilian Jaenke had volunteered as an emergency medical technician and was planning to become a nurse.
Fralish was inspired to join the Navy because of 9/11. His uncle, John Fralish Jr., said that military service was a family tradition and the younger Fralish had wished to help others by becoming a doctor.
During the ceremony, larger-than-life portraits of each corpsman were unveiled. The Jaenke and Fralish portraits will grace the quarterdeck of each of the named barracks, and bronze plaques chronicling the circumstances under which each corpsman lost their lives were also unveiled.
"I am deeply honored that his name is there," said John Fralish Jr. "For years to come, that plaque will serve as a beacon for many classes of corpsman."
Family members then released gold and navy blue balloons, officially opening both barracks.
"Like ships they are only living things once the crew comes aboard and brings them to life," said Capt. R.G. Craigmiles, NMTC commanding officer, who emphasized that the buildings, like their namesakes, are of heroic proportions. "These halls are termed 'megabuildings'; each one over 330 thousand-square-feet of living space with 600 rooms housing 1,200 Sailors."
For more news from Navy Medicine Support Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/nmsc/.