Navy Surgeon General Honors Hospital Corps’ 115th Birthday

By Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery 

On behalf of Navy Medicine, I extend my sincere thanks and heartfelt appreciation to the men and women of the Hospital Corps, as you celebrate 115 years of service.

Since the Hospital Corps’ founding on June 17, 1898, you have answered the call, “Corpsman up!” in every major battle from the Spanish-American War to the war in Afghanistan.

Hospital corpsmen deploy with Sailors and Marines around the world, providing lifesaving care and critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield. No Marine has ever taken a hill without a corpsman by his side. As Sailors and Marines deploy in harm’s way, they take solace in knowing that “Doc” is beside them.

The Hospital Corps is the largest and most decorated rating in our Navy. Twenty naval ships have been named after hospital corpsmen. Since 1919, 178 corpsmen have received the Navy Cross Award. In the Vietnam War alone, hospital corpsmen received four Medals of Honor, 31 Navy Crosses, 127 Silver Stars, and 291 Bronze Stars for heroics under fire.

Due to our exceptional corpsmen and their training, we are experiencing the lowest battle mortality and non-battle injury rates in the history of armed conflict. This is unprecedented and something that you should all be extremely proud of.

Today, we honor your bravery in battle; your compassion during humanitarian assistance/disaster response efforts; your willingness to help those in need; and your superb performance at our medical treatment facilities across the globe. You have ensured our nation has a fit and medically ready fighting force, while providing  compassionate patient and family-centered health care.

To the more than 26,000 active duty and reserve corpsmen around the world, I thank you for your service, courage, and commitment for the work you do every day. Happy birthday Hospital Corps!