"Corpsman Up!"

20 Jul 2002 | Staff Sgt. Amy S. Contreras 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

"Corpsman Up!" Throughout history these two words have been yelled by desperate Marines on a battlefield awaiting their Navy brethren to answer the call and save lives. Today's battlefields are no different as the corpsmen of the Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 26, 26th MEU, remain ready to step up to any challenge that may arise. "The corpsmen here are all handpicked volunteers," Chief Petty Officer Larry A Hintsala, MSSG 26 detachment leading chief, said. "They all want to go above and beyond their normal duties." The MSSG's 16 corpsmen came primarily from 2nd Medical Battalion and brought with them a wide range of experience from previous deployments and time attached to other Marine Corps units during combat operations. As with every unit, training is essential in keeping them ready to answer the call. The corpsmen practice what they can on each other and read as much as possible to stay ahead of current trends and procedures in medicine. "We put a corpsman in every place a Marine is training," Hintsala, an Escanaba, Mich., native and 18-year veteran, said. "Although reading about something helps, to completely grasp it, you have to experience doing it in a training environment." During workups, even the most junior corpsmen gets much needed hands-on experience. For Seaman Dante R. Cabello, who was having a little difficulty administering an IV during training, the urgency of a real emergency gave him the confidence to get it done. When a Marine went down as a heat casualty, Cabello and his platoon sergeant, Petty Officer 2nd class Fahey, were the only medical personnel on the scene. "[Fahey] threw the IV catheter at me and said put it in," Cabello, the most junior MSSG corpsman with only two years experience, said. "I said, you want ME to put it in him? He said, 'yes, this is when it counts.'" The junior corpsman was able to complete the task and he said it also boosted his confidence.Working as a team and believing in one another's abilities is another way this team of corpsmen enhances its' medical support to Marines."We are a really tight unit," Petty Officer 1st class Troy D. Haynes, a Mansfield, Ohio, native said. "If we're working on a patient, one will be working on one part and the other will automatically start working on the other without speaking."Marines look after their corpsmen and treat us well," Haynes said. "They know that when they need us, we'll be there." Haynes and his fellow MSSG 26 corpsmen are scheduled to deploy early next year with the 26th MEU. For more information on the critical role of the MSSG and the 26th MEU, visit their website at