Marines

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Navy Capt. David A. Lane, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune commanding officer, retired Maj. James Capers, guest of honor, and the youngest corpsman cut a cake celebrating the 116th birthday of the U.S. Naval Hospital Corps aboard the Henrietta III river boat in Wilmington, N.C., June 14.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Mark Watola

Navy Corpsmen celebrate 116 years of service

19 Jun 2014 | Lance Cpl. Mark Watola

Navy corpsmen set sail to honor 116 years of dedicated service during the Hospital Corpsmen Ball aboard the Henrietta III river boat in Wilmington, N.C., June 14.

The Navy Hospital Corps was signed into law by President William McKinley, June 17, 1898, establishing the role of corpsmen in the Navy. Now, corpsmen serve alongside nurses and doctors, caring for service members both deployed and stateside.

More than 350 corpsmen from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune community attended the ball to celebrate their history and build camaraderie.

“I enjoy everyone coming together to have a good time,” said Navy Capt. David A. Lane, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune commanding officer, who served two years as a corpsman before attending the Naval Academy. “It’s a good morale builder for all the corpsman in the Lejeune community. The blue side, the green side and the special operations side all come together and have fun.”

With a large corpsmen population gathered aboard the boat, the sailors had the opportunity to bond and spend quality time together.

“Sailors of past and present built camaraderie through the event,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nathaniel Cooper, hospital corpsman at NHCL and chairman for the corpsmen ball committee. “They came together to celebrate men and women who have gone before them, with the common mission to take care of people.”

The theme of the ball was “Your life, our hands,” referencing the role corpsmen have served for 116 years.

The guest of honor, retired Maj. James Capers spoke about the value of corpsmen during his life. Capers served three tours in the Force Reconnaissance community during the Vietnam War and was awarded a battlefield commission to second lieutenant.

“No matter how bad the situation, there was a corpsman there to take care of me,” said Capers. “I’m here today because corpsmen made it possible.”

Capers recognized corpsmen as the true heroes who save lives. After he spoke, the ceremony continued with the cutting of the cake.

The youngest and oldest former corpsmen, Lane and Capers, cut the cake. The cake was served to the guests and the festivities continued.

“Many times, I’ve seen corpsmen running through the sands, treating Marines under fire,” said Capers to the corpsmen. “You’re always taking care of your Marines, and we appreciate it so much.”