Gold Eagle Corpsmen Sew Up Over a Century of Service

Story Number: NNS030624-10Release Date: 6/24/2003 1:58:00 PM
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By Journalist Seaman Chris Fahey, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

ABOARD USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Hospital corpsmen (HM) of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 crowded the ship's medical ward recently to recognize their rate's 105th anniversary, two HM re-enlistments, and the annual renewal of the Corpsman Oath - pulling a departmental "hat trick."

With more than 50 people in attendance, master of ceremonies Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Juan Fraustro kicked off the event by thanking all who came, then provided a brief description of an HM: "A Navy corpsman is a long-haired, bearded Sailor who hates Marines ... but would travel to the gates of hell to save one."

Changing to a more serious tone, Fraustro described his true feelings. "If you've never served with a Marine battalion, take it from me, it's the single-most rewarding experience of your life. But if you don't do your job, they will kill you."

Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW/AW/FMF) Charles Rael took center stage to reveal some HM history. "There are many different corps, but the hospital corps is the only fully enlisted one."

Rael spoke of Hospital Apprentice Robert Stanley, the first HM medal of honor recipient; Hospital Apprentice Max Armstrong, the first graduate of the official HM school; and Ruth Flory, the first woman who enlisted in Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Rael recognized the three "first-timers" for their contributions to the HM rating: valor, technical progress and diversity.

The nostalgia of the day continued as Marine Fighter Attack Sqaudron (VMFA) 314 Black Knights Sgt. Maj. Timothy Lesane traveled back to his early years as a "devil pup," recalling his first impression of a corpsman, "He did his job, because he was paid to."

After recounting his experiences in the field, the Baltimore native said his perception changed, and a strong connection formed between him and his "devil doc." Lesane acknowledged the assembled corpsmen with a final thought. "I respect you, salute you and thank you."

Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Steven Pavlik stood tall while Vinson's senior medical officer, Lt. Cmdr. Dan Hohman, performed a not-so-routine three-year re-enlistment, asking all corpsmen to recite the re-enlistment oath in unison. In the same fashion, Rael was then re-enlisted by the ship's physical therapist, Lt. Cmdr. Mark Heniser.

With two HMs hitched for another three years, Medical Department Leading Chief Petty Officer Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Tracye Sherrill led her fellow corpsmen in the annual recitation of the Corpsman Oath. The renewal is required by all corpsmen Navywide. Applause erupted, and everyone bellowed a resounding "Happy Birthday."

Sailors and Marines bowed their heads and recognized their fallen comrades with a moment of silence before ending the afternoon with a final tradition.

The oldest and youngest "docs," Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Marvin Sleigh and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (SW) Amado Rivas, shared in cutting the first piece out of the stunning cake, symbolizing the Hospital Corps' new and old ends of history coming together in honor of the distinguished rate.

For Rivas, the entire celebration was "amazing ... just amazing."

The Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently deployed in the western Pacific Ocean as part of America's standing commitment to maintain peace and stability in cooperation with allies and friends in the region.

For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at

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