COMBINED ARMS TRAINING CENTER CAMP FUJI, Japan -- For more than 239 years, Navy corpsmen have been known as the enlisted force which has supported Marine operations and training both garrison and the field.
These corpsmen carry out their responsibilities in harsh conditions alongside Marines. They are required to complete a secondary, more rigorous course which furthers their abilities to function in high stress situations and field conditions in addition to the basic medical training required of all corpsmen.
The additional training is crucial, because corpsmen attach to operational units to provide continuous care to service members within, according to PO1 Morty Ervin, a hospital corpsman with the Yokosuka Naval Hospital, Japan, who is assisting corpsmen with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment; currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force under the unit deployment program.
“Working directly with Marines in less-than-ideal conditions provides corpsmen with a greater understanding of the real-world application of their training,” said Ervin, a Denver, Colorado, native. “It allows corpsmen to build a better relationship with Marines through shared experience.”
The interoperability of corpsmen and Marines is exemplified in training exercises such as Exercise Fuji Samurai, which is held annually at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji during the month of January.
The exercise includes countless fire and maneuver drills and other combat-based training evolutions which take place over two weeks. During this time, Marines and corpsmen face the challenges of CATC Camp Fuji, as they spend night after night subject to the winter elements.
“This place gives my corpsmen a chance to endure the same training, cold weather and natural elements the Marines undergo here in Japan,” said Navy Lt. Christopher Rossetti, the assistant battalion surgeon attached to 3rd Bn. 5th Marine Regiment. “Knowing that they are able to scale the challenging terrain alongside the Marines and do as they do makes me confident they can stand ready to serve in any place in the Asia-Pacific region.”
During most training evolutions, corpsmen are present to ensure procedures are carried out safely and immediate medical evaluation and care can be provided immediately, in case of emergency.
“It has been a great experience working closely with the green side corpsmen,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher Welch, motor transport operator, CATC Camp Fuji, serving as an ambulance driver for the exercise. “Before working out here on Fuji, I didn’t know how involved they are in our training. Whenever we have ranges or any kind of live-fire training, the corpsmen are there right by our sides.”
Among the many training events, Marines and corpsmen participated in combat marksmanship drills, during which shooters must show proper weapons handling, combat-style shooting and confidence with the M16A4 service rifles and M4 service carbines.
“Corpsmen carry rifles and participate in training just as Marines do,” said Rossetti, a Willowbrook, Illinois, native. “When corpsmen attach to Marine units in the field, they get more specific experience and training with line companies and infantry assets. They are almost indistinguishable from Marines when they are participating in Marine operations. It is this ability to engage in training and operations in less-than-ideal conditions which fosters the strong relationship between Marines and corpsmen.”
Exercise Fuji Samurai is scheduled to continue until Jan. 15 and encompasses training with artillery, convoy safety, fire and maneuver, and offensive combat tactics.
"It's a rite of passage to serve with the Marine Corps and to be able to carry the Eagle, Globe and Anchor on my chest," said Ervin. “Going through training with Marines serving alongside them has given me a sense of camaraderie, brotherhood and alliance with the Marines. I love my Marines and I'd do anything for them."
CATC Fuji continues the work of Marine Corps Installations Pacific through its training facilities to stand as the strength behind America’s ability to respond quickly to crisis in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region. MCIPAC strengthens power projection with our allies and partners; enables strategic launch and recovery of military capabilities to save lives and to preserve regional peace, stability and security; and enables operational force readiness to guarantee victory.