Navy Medicine’s force master chief is the Navy surgeon general’s senior enlisted advisor. He or she is also dual-hatted as the director of the Hospital Corps, the Navy’s largest enlisted rating and only enlisted corps.
Force Master Chief Hosea Smith Jr. assumed this position in March 2017. As the new force master chief, Smith reflects on his career and the value of Navy Medicine.
Why did you decide to join Navy Medicine?
I grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina as an Air Force brat, and as a result, I wanted to carry on my father’s legacy and join the Air Force. When I went to the recruiter’s office, the Air Force recruiter wasn’t there so I met with the Navy recruiter and decided to join the Navy without choosing what job I would have once I left boot camp.
While at boot camp, I originally wanted to do clerical and administrative type of work, but once I read about the hospital corps and saw what they were about, I chose my job and the rest is history.
What are some of the most distinct memories of your career in Navy Medicine?
My first tour as an Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) on USS O’Brian (DD 975) was probably the most challenging assignment I’d ever had. IDCs are different because they are trained to serve as the sole source of medical care for the Sailors and Marines they deploy with.
In my case, I was responsible for the health of more than 300 people with only two junior Sailors working with me. The whole crew entrusts their health care to their corpsmen and it’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly.
What is the Hospital Corps?
The Hospital Corps is comprised of more than 30,000 men and women who are ready to provide health care to Sailors, Marines and their families no matter the environment. Our corpsmen are the heart of Navy Medicine. They’re on the frontlines, standing shoulder to shoulder with doctors and nurses ensuring our shipmates and fellow Marines are receiving the best health care we can deliver. That’s why I’m proud to be a hospital corpsman myself, and to represent the force. My title may be Force Master Chief, but our hospital corpsmen are truly the force that keeps this organization running.
What is the Hospital Corps mission?
Our mission as hospital corpsmen is and will always be to support the warfighter and their families by providing them the best health care our nation can offer.
Why is Navy Medicine so important?
Wherever the United States has Navy and Marine Corps forces, Navy Medicine is there. Whether it’s on the sea, below the sea or on the battlefield with the Marines, we are there. Wherever our Sailors and Marines go there’s a corpsman, a nurse or doctor ready to take care of them, making us invaluable to the Navy and Marine Corps mission.