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Here’s why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren’t

Since its creation, the U.S. Marine Corps has been involved in some of the most epic military battles in hi…
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U.S. Navy Hospitalman 2nd class Gilbert Velez with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (1/5), participates in a Civil Affairs Group related patrol in Nawa District, Helmand province, Afghanistan on Nov. 8, 2009. The patrol was conducted to look at potential bridge projects in the area. 1/5 is one of the ground combat elements deployed with Regimental Combat Team 7, whose mission is to conduct counterinsurgency operations in partnership with the Afghan national security forces in southern Afghanistan. (U.S Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy Harris/Released).

Since its creation, the U.S. Marine Corps has been involved in some of the most epic military battles in history. From raising the flag at Iwo Jima to hunting terrorists in Iraq, it’s pretty much a guarantee that Navy Corpsmen were right next to their brothers during the action. The unique bond between Marines and their “Doc” is nearly unbreakable.

Since the Marine Corps doesn’t have its own medical department and falls under the Department of the Navy, the majority of the medical treatment Marines receive comes directly from the Naval Hospital Corps.

So, why are some Corpsmen considered Marines when they’re in the Navy and never went through the Corps’ tough, 13-week boot camp? Well, we’re glad you asked.

navy corpsmen
U.S. Navy Hospitalman Leonard Christopher, corpsman, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, poses for a portrait during Mountain Training Exercise 1-21 on Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California, Oct. 12, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Colton Brownlee)

It’s strictly an honorary title and not every Corpsman earns that honor. In fact, it’s hard as f*ck to earn the respect of a Marine when you’re in the Navy — it’s even harder getting them to say happy birthday to you every Nov. 10.

After a Corpsman graduates from the Field Medical Training Battalion, either at Camp Pendleton or Camp Lejeune, they typically move on to one of three sections under the Marine Air Ground Task Force, or MAGTF. Those three sections consist of Marine Air Wing (or MAW), Marine Logistics Group (or MLG), and Division (or the Marine Infantry).


navy corpsmen insignia
Navy and Marine instructors with Field Medical Training Battalion, Camp Pendleton, pin the symbolic Medical Shield insignia on the newest Fleet Marine Force corpsmen graduating from the school, March 25. More than 280 corpsmen graduated as part of the largest graduating class in the school’s history. (USMC photo)

Not every Corpsman goes through the FMTB and, therefore, some won’t have the opportunity to serve with the Marines.

Once a Corpsman checks into his unit, however, he’ll eat, train, sleep, and sh*t with his squad, building that special bond.

This starts the journey of earning the honorary title of Marine.

Also Read: 6 reasons why you need a sense of humor in the infantry

Once the unit deploys, the squad’s Corpsman will fight alongside his Marines, facing the same dangers as brothers. That “Doc” will fire his weapon until one of the grunts gets hurt, then he’ll switch into doctor mode.


Can you spot the “Doc” in this photo? It’s tough, right? I’m the tall drink of water in the middle.(Author photo)

After a spending time with the grunts, studying Marine culture, Corpsmen can take a difficult test and earn the designation of FMF, or Fleet Marine Force, and receive a specialized pin.

Behold, the almighty FMF pin in all of it’s glory.

Notice the mighty eagle, globe, and anchor placed directly in the middle of the pin. Once a “Doc” gets this precious symbol pinned above his U.S. Navy name tape, he earns a measure of pride and the honorary title of Marine.

Semper fi, brothers! Rah!