« 2/7 remembers its fallen | Main | Phony Marine nabbed at Lititz vet's funeral »

FMTB makes ‘groundbreaking’ changes to save Marines’ lives

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. — Marines have learned from day one at recruit training that their best friend is the M16A2 service rifle. However, what they may not know is the vital importance corpsmen play in the lives of Marines—literally.


12/17/2008 By Cpl. Jin Hyun Lee, Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune

The commanding officer of Field Medical Training School, Navy Capt. Efren Saenz, recognized the significance of the role and responsibilities of the field corpsmen to their fellow Marines. Saenz proudly introduced the groundbreaking of the new state-of-the-art facility FMTS will have as a new home, Dec. 4.

Currently, where Marines are constantly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, and with all the technology involved in today’s war, it is important corpsmen have the knowledge to administer proper aid to Marines.

“We need this groundbreaking due to the changing medical technology,” said Saenz. “This facility will have all the new technology required in today’s training environment.”

FMTS has been preparing sailors for the combat zone in a building that was erected during the 1950s. Since then, the building has been renovated several times. However, the school is not able to facilitate the training necessary for the new type of combat due to outdated equipment.

The Navy, and most importantly, the Marines, needed a technically efficient training facility to better prepare the future corpsmen for today’s warfare environment. Finally that push has paid off.

“The significance in the groundbreaking of this school is that we will be training in a completely new facility,” said Saenz. “Our building has been here since 1950, and over the years, many COs have made the effort to receive funding for a new facility. As a result of their hard work, we now get to this point in building this new school.”

In tribute of John “Doc” H. Bradley, the new facility will be dubbed Doc Bradley Hall. Bradley, a petty officer second class with 28th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division, was one of the famous flag raisers at Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima.

“Let us not forget that there was in fact a corpsman with the Marines as they raised the flag on Mt. Suribachi,” said John Francis Richter, retired petty officer first class. “I feel compelled to pay respect to those who serve with and treat those Marines in their time of suffering. For those of you who don’t understand the love/hate relationship with the Navy, I can only say that at no time and in no place will you need to worry about the medical care received by Marines.”

Bradley represented the spirit of what all future corpsmen aspire to achieve, the love and loyalty for the Marines they were sworn to protect when they took their oath. Therefore, it is fitting for the new FMTS building to be named after him.

“When pressed, (Bradley) would gloss over and downplay how he had won the nation’s second highest award for bravery-- the Navy Cross,” said former Commandant Gen. Charles C. Krulak. “He earned that decoration by rushing to the aid of two wounded Marines, and then shielding them with his body while he tended to their wounds. When Bradley hurried to their aid, he didn’t exactly rush...he crawled...crawled, because he had been shot through both legs just a few minutes before.”

The sacrifices Bradley made for his comrades, the Marines, are highly stressed in the code of honor among corpsmen.

“They couldn’t have picked a better name for what Doc. Bradley symbolizes for all corpsmen to follow,” said retired Navy Capt. Bill Brown.

The new facility will provide all new equipment to include lifelike human models, with bodily functions to simulate various scenarios in times of war and garrison.

“The new building will better prepare corpsmen to help Marines going overseas because they will have state-of-the-art equipment. The only thing that’ll be better is actually working on Marines,” said Brown.

The new 28,000-square foot facility will cost approximately $8 million to build and is scheduled to be completed by December 2009, said Saenz.

Until then, the future corpsmen of FMTS will continue to learn and carry on the honor and the bravery Bradley set as the example. The Corpsman’s Prayer sums up the role of the Doc to a fellow Marine perfectly.

“These are my friends I’m trying to save. They are frightened at times, but You know they are brave. Lord, I’m no hero -- my job is to heal.”