USS GERMANTOWN, At Sea --
There is a group of Sailors within the United States Navy that accept the responsibility of being medical professionals. Within that small group exists a smaller portion of Sailors that accept the responsibility and the challenge of providing medical care to the Marines.
Six corpsmen with Company G., Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, were presented with Fleet Marine Force pins here, June 28.
The ceremony took place just before the ship departed to join the rest of the 31st MEU and Amphibious Squadron 11 for a scheduled summer patrol. Earning the FMF pin requires a lengthy and significant effort on the part of the corpsman.
“I started studying for the FMF pin when I first joined the unit eight months ago,” said Seaman Mark J. Weatherhead, a corpsman with Co. G., BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and native of Woodridge, Ill.
“Since then, it was a long evolution of learning and ensuring I didn’t forget to study. Eight months might seem daunting, but the significance of the pin is definitely worth it.”
“Green side” Sailors, a term for those who operate with Marine units, are required to earn their FMF pin by intimately learning a large quantity of information typically used to make Marines combat-ready. Their studies span the sphere of Marine Corps operations, allowing the corpsmen to gain proficiency in battlefield tactics and weapons systems, just like their Marine brothers.
“That’s the great thing about earning the FMF pin; it’s not a required check in the box, but something that makes them better corpsmen,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer William R. Janic, independent duty corpsman for BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and native of Parkersburg, W.V. “They learn everything there is to know about the Marine Corps, and that in turn makes the Marines they attach with appreciate them and their efforts that much more.”
Sailors undergo three trials to prove they are worthy of the pin. The first is a written test that covers topics from Marine Corps history to the maximum effective ranges of service weapons. The second is a practical application of their knowledge, requiring them to demonstrate skills in land navigation, weapons handling and asset identification. Finally, each Sailor stands before a board of FMF pin-holders to test their retained knowledge under the pressure.
If all three trials are successfully completed, the Sailors receive their long-sought FMF pins, and the approval of their Marines.
“Even though they’ve already earned our trust, it makes us trust them more,” said Corporal John D. Jaggers, a team leader with Co. G., BLT 2/4, 31st MEU, and native of Louisville, Ky. “It solidifies the fact they know what they’re doing when they go out with us and can fall right in line with whatever we have to do outside of their medical training.”
Marines can also study for and take the tests for an FMF pin; however, they will only receive the completion certificate if successful. Even though uniform regulations negate their ability to wear the pin, a few Marines of 2/4 are currently pursuing their FMF certification.
The 31st MEU is the only forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.