SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 3, 2015 - Since June 17, 1889, sailors of the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps have been providing lifesaving care to the men and women of the U.S. Marine Corps. Marines have no medical services organic to their branch, but Navy Corpsmen have fought in every clime and place, right along their sides.
Petty Officer Third Class Ryan Holmes, platoon corpsman with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command, continues this 117-year tradition of providing medical care to Marines in combat.
Holmes first started considering joining the military his senior year at Higley High School in Gilbert, Arizona. He was accepted into many colleges, but he didn’t have an idea of what he wanted to study. He said the military seemed like the best option for him while he figured out his future education plans.
“I remember a friend of mine wanted to join the military and asked me for a ride to the recruiter’s office,” the Arizona native said. “While my friend wound up not being able to join for medical reasons, that’s how I got started talking to recruiters.”
Holmes explained that when he initially joined the delayed entry program he chose search and rescue swimmer as his military occupational specialty. Unfortunately he found out during his time in the DEP that he was color blind, requiring him to change his MOS.
“I chose Corpsman because it was another lifesaving MOS,” He said. “I wanted to be able to take pride in the fact I was helping other people. Being responsible for other people’s lives seemed like it would be worthwhile.”
Holmes shipped to navy recruit training aboard Naval Station Great Lakes, Aug. 14, 2011, where he became a basically trained sailor.
Upon graduation of recruit training on Oct. 7, 2011, Holmes attended Navy Hospital Corps School, also aboard Naval Station Great Lakes. There he learned basic medical techniques and procedures across a broad spectrum of medical disciplines.
“When you graduate from corps school, you choose what field you want to specialize in,” Holmes said. “Many of my instructors through corps school were infantry corpsmen, which influenced my decision to become a field medical technician. Since choices are based on your class grade point average and I had one of the higher GPAs in my class, I got my first choice.”
Holmes then went to Field Medical Training Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, from May – July 2012. FMTB takes the basic clinical knowledge sailors learned in corps school and applies it to a field environment.
There is a higher focus on emergency trauma care such as gunshot wounds or lost limbs, and simulating combat situations by forcing corpsmen to provide competent care in stressful situations.
Medicine isn’t the only thing Holmes learned in FMTB, however. Since field medical technicians, or "green-side docs" work with Marines, they must also cover some of the same training Marines go through in their recruit training. This includes Marine Corps History, customs and courtesies, marksmanship training, and close-order drill.
Holmes’ first duty station was at Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington, from July 2012 – July 2014, where he worked in a family medicine department.
In July of 2014, Holmes got orders to Marine Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, where he was attached to Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, and 7th Marine Regiment, which is currently deployed with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Crisis Response – Central Command.
“We got Doc Holmes just before the workup for this deployment,” said Lance Cpl. Trevor Meador, rifleman and team leader with Lima Company. “He came to us when we had our old corpsman, ‘Doc’ Stuggal, who hand-picked him to join our platoon."
“We kinda look at him as the ‘son of’ our old corpsman,” Meador added. “He had all the same qualities as our old doc, so he fit in right away.”