|Although corpsmen go back to the very beginning of the Navy, it isn't until June 1898 that the Hospital Corps is officially established.|
|In 1814, Navy Regulations mention a "loblolly boy" who is to serve the surgeon and the surgeon's mate. The loblolly boy prepares for battle by filling containers with water to hold amputated limbs. In addition, his duties call for maintaining the braziers of charcoal to heat the tar which is used to stop the hemorrhaging from amputations. Keeping the deck safe for the surgeon around the operating area is a duty during battle. The deck, slippery with blood, is treated with buckets of sand. Sounds gruesome, but cannon balls and cutlasses are not tidy weapons and amputation is the standard treatment for compound fractures.|
|The "surgeon's steward" replaces the loblolly boy. Recognizing the need for additional trained help, surgeons select promising young men for training in elementary medical procedures. More than a clean up person, this specialist is probably the true forerunner of today's corpsman.|
|When Congress establishes the Hospital Corps, the Secretary of the Navy appoints 25 senior "apothecaries" as Pharmacists. These 25 are the charter members of the Hospital Corps.|
|Some corpsman are selected to enter "Field Medicine" meaning they are assigned duties as corpsman with the U. S. Marine Corps. Although there are many good natured put downs between the Navy and Marines serving side by side, Marines take special care of their corpsman. The individual Marine knows that "Doc" will respond, no matter how deadly the situation, when the call "Corpsman Up!" sounds.|
Twenty-two Navy corpsman are recipients of the Medal of Honor, America's highest decoration, for extreme heroism. Many are awarded posthumously.
In February 1945 on Iwo Jima, the heroism four Navy Pharmacist's Mate's is recognized with the Medal of Honor.
In addition, Navy Pharmacist's Mate John Bradley is one of the men who raise the flag over Mt. Suribachi on Iwo Jima, a moment made famous by the Joe Rosenthal photograph. The Clint Eastwood directed film, Flags of Our Fathers, is a tribute to Doc Bradley and the Marines of Iwo Jima.
During World War II, seventy-six Navy Pharmacist's Mates are awarded the Navy Cross, the second highest award for heroism for the Navy and Marine Corps.
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