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Brig. Gen. David H. Berger, assistant division commander, 2nd Marine Division, cuts the cake during a ceremony for the 109th Navy Hospital Corps birthday here, June 18. The first two pieces of the cake are given to the oldest and youngest corpsman at the ceremony.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Katie Mathison

Navy Hospital Corps celebrates 109th birthday

18 Jun 2007 | Lance Cpl. Katie Mathison

Affectionately called “Devil Docs,” Navy hospital corpsmen have been attached to Marine units since the Spanish-American War. The 2nd Marine Division honored the establishment of the Navy Hospital Corps here, June 18.

The Navy Hospital Corps is the largest rate in the Navy and the most decorated. Twenty-one Medals of Honor have been awarded to corpsman, most posthumously.

At the ceremony, Brig. Gen. David H. Berger, assistant division commander, 2nd Marine Division, gave a speech to honor the Navy Hospital Corps’ past and present sacrifices.

“There are 14 Naval ships named for corpsmen,” Berger said. “That says a lot about the respect that the Navy and the Marine Corps have for corpsmen.”

Corpsmen have become an integral part of the Marine Corps. They go everywhere the Marines go, supporting every mission. Marines would struggle to complete a mission without the corpsmen’s support.

“When a Marine goes down, the mission continues, but when a corpsman goes down, the unit stops,” Berger said. “Everything comes to a screeching halt.”

Following the speech, the narrator, Chief Petty Officer Shawn Lawson, the battalion chief for 2nd Tank Battalion, read messages from the commander of Marine Forces Command, the master chief petty officer of the Navy and the force master chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

The cake detail wheeled a cake out for the oldest corpsman, 57-year-old Senior Chief Petty Officer Larry Tentinger with 3rd Battalion, 23 Marine Regiment, 4th Marine division, and the youngest corpsman, 21-year-old Petty Officer 3rd Class Jacob Tribett with 8th Marine Regiment. Berger served the cake to the oldest corpsman first, who represents the past, and then the youngest, who represents the future.

“I was very honored to be the oldest corpsman,” Tentinger said. “In 2003, I was told I was the oldest line corpsman in Iraq.”

The ceremony concluded when the band played “Follow Me,” the 2nd Marine Division song, “Anchors Aweigh,” and “The Marines’ Hymn.”

The ceremony represented the respect Marines have for corpsmen.

“There’s not a whole lot of difference between Marines and corpsmen,” Berger said. “That’s why we wear the same uniform.”