Photo Information

Naval Corpsman celebrate their 107th birthday during thier current deployment while aboard USS Kearsarge. Hospital Corpsman 1st Class, Shawnreno Ricks, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), sings a song he wrote about the life of a corpsman. The MEU is currently deployed to the Arabian Gulf as part of the theater reserve unit for Central Command. (Official photo by Sgt. Mario Gonzalez.)

Photo by Sergeant Mario Gonzalez

Corpsmen on Kearsarge celebrate 107 years

16 Jun 2005 | Gunnery Sgt. Mark E. Bradley 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Celebrating the 107th birthday of the U.S. Navy’s Hospital Corps, Marines and Sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the amphibious assault USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) gathered on the mess deck here for a cake-cutting ceremony featuring music, prayer and reflection.

This storied corps of Sailors was officially created in the late 1890s when the threat of the Spanish-American War accelerated the need for a hospital corps.   This need was addressed in a bill aimed at building the armed forces. President William McKinley approved the bill on June 17, 1898.  From that date to the present, either generically or by rating title, medical Sailors have been called "hospital corpsmen,"  according to HMCS (FMF) Mark T. Hacala's article on the history of the Hospital Corps.

The birthday celebration here began with a prayer followed by a saxophone rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and the reading of letter from a Marine extolling the selfless efforts of Navy corpsman everywhere.

The 26th MEU’s own Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Shawnreno Ricks then jazzed up the celebration performing his original song about the life of a corpsman titled “Corpsman Up!”  The song’s name is derived from the well-known battle cry used by Marines to summon a corpsman to the location of an injured man.

Plucking his bass guitar though the funky rap song, Ricks had the Marines and Sailors here singing along and clapping to the music by the time he was done.

The celebration concluded with a cake-cutting ceremony by the oldest and youngest corpsmen present.  The oldest corpsman was Master Chief Tommie Thompson, 46, from the Kearsarge.  The youngest was Hospitalman Sean M. Kane, 20, from Weapon's company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn, 8th Marines.

To read the complete history of the hospital corps, Hacala's article can be found at

26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)