Navy Corpsmen

During my years in Vietnam working on the battlefield with U.S. Marines, I encountered men who were not Marines but sailors, from the U.S. Navy. These men’s job was to take care of the wounded during battle. As I eventually learned, the Marine Corps, unlike the army, didn’t have medics, that is, enlisted men trained to care for the wounded. They depended on the navy to provide that service. The sailors who cared for the wounded were called Navy Corpsmen.

The corpsmen assigned to combat units wore uniforms indistinguishable (to me, anyway) from those of the Marines, olive green camouflage fatigues. I identified them only when a troop was wounded and they rushed forward to care for him. They carried with them all manner of bandages and medicines and were lightly armed. The troops invariably called them “Doc.”

I still know today and stay in occasional touch with two former corpsmen. One still goes by the name of “Doc.” They were both in Vietnam on the battlefield in 1967, but I didn’t meet them there, and they don’t know each other. They are, justifiably, proud of their military history and the lives they saved.

I am honored to know them.

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