Tribute to Navy Corpsmen
For those of us who heard and used the term "Corpsman Up!" it is a term that remains everlasting in both our hearts and our minds. The truth is that we ask and expect far too much from these young men and women who are called Corpsmen, and who like most young Marines were first exposed to the horrors of war in ways most will never forget. Those assigned to the Fleet Marine Forces Marines (FMF) lived the way we did and that of the units to which assigned, and they endured and participated in every hardship and disappointment, as well as the praise and glory awarded their units.
The truth is many in Vietnam were 18 years old and upwards, and were just as fearful of being hurt or killed as the rest were and like the rest failed to receive mail for extended periods of time. Like every other Marine in the ground combat units, Corpsmen dug their foxholes with other Marines, ate the same C-rations as the rest, felt the stings of ants, leeches, bees, and scorpions, and they also dug their own toilets like the rest of us and they also buried their cans, papers, etc., after cooking and eating their meals. They were Just as tired as the rest and at times just as afraid of the unknown as was anyone else. However, Corpsmen still had to check on the sanitation of our locations, as well as tending to the minor and major injuries and ailments suffered sooner or later by all. And those aliments and injuries ran the gamut from diarrhea to coughs and colds, and from Elephant grass cuts which usually festered into very large and ugly sores, to the usual heat related issues such as heatstroke, and on to more serious mental and physical issues to include VD and other issues of that nature.
Our Navy Corpsmen did all that while still carrying the gear needed to care for a platoon or company sized unit as well as carrying their own gear and weapons. And often times they were told to help out the locals with their illnesses, injuries, or wounds, and that in turn meant using up precious bandages and medications, which the Corpsman had carried in his pack and medical bags for his fellow Marines. That then caused the Corpsman to pray or ask help from somewhere that he would not run short of needed medications and supplies, and just in case and when the next firefight, or mine explosion, or enemy mortars or artillery might happen upon his unit.
To ask the above of a young 18-22 year old FMF Corpsman, is asking much more than many in the field ever realized until much later and after the fact. After all, that Corpsman is thought by many to be an "expert" on wounds, or how to handle other major injuries, in addition to which medication might be needed and requested to be used for everything from fleas or hair lice to trench foot or crotch rot or pink eye. While every Corpsman that our units had in Vietnam might not have been quite as astute, courageous, gifted, and the logically- minded individuals we make them all out to be, I would love to have just one more time to shake their hands and hug them all, and to thank them all for that which they did for so many over the years, and especially for those units I was honored to be a part of.
DOC, THANKS FOR YOUR SERVICE, BRAVERY AND CARING
Thanks to Ben Cascio for passing this along...
You have done such an amazing job with this communication. I look back at some of the first periodicals (paper copy) I received and it has been a monumental progression you guys have made. Many thanks and OO-RAHs to you.
Keep up the great work please, thank you.
Wants to Contact
Any way if I can find out whether this gentleman was on O.P. 10 with me in the sprig/summer of 1969?
MOS: 1811, Tank Crewman
1st Tank Bn. B Co; 1968/1969
Enlistment Hometown: Van Nuys, CA
Thank you so very much for the time and effort you have put into this organization so we will not forget the things that went on there and also to help get us in touch with others we would like to keep in touch with. It has taken me many years to be able to sit down and write the script that I have written. Please feel free to make any corrections necessary to make it grammatically correct. This is the one that I think is a must print. I have one or two more that occurred to me that I may write a little later. My personal thanks to you for recognizing the fact there are few articles about the Hospital Corpsmen. Thank you so very much and may God Bless you.
William L. "Doc" Cox HM2
|Dr Oscar Gilbert Video|
| A Tribute to HM3 Joel Arnold Balcom |
by William "Doc" Cox
It was the procedure of the Battalion Aid Station assigned to the 1st Marine Division, 1st Tank Bn, if you were within a week of going home, you were taken off the duty roster. Such was the case for HM3 Joel Arnold Balcom.
On 3 November 1969, some enemy rockets and mortars had fallen short and hit the civilian community of Da Nang. The injured civilians were pouring into the Aid Station. We needed help from anyone that had medical experience. Joel came in to assist even though he was off the duty roster, The phone rang and it came in that a Deuce and a Half had wrecked on the road leading to "Three Fingers Outpost" in Quang Nam Province, and the Hospital Corpsman there was requesting an ambulance pick up for the injured Marine. This was the last thing we needed... more casualties. HM3 Balcom said he would take the ambulance and pick the wounded Marine up.
When Joel arrived at the road leading up to "Three Fingers," he came upon a Deuce and a Half that was turned over on its side. Joel was not sure if anyone was still in the vehicle so he stopped to check it out. Finding no one in the vehicle he continued on the way to the outpost. Joel arrived, found the injured Marine and loaded him and the Three Fingers Corpsman into the ambulance for the return trip back to the Battalion Aid Station. As Joel started back down the road, he was stopped by other Marines and told the entire road had been mined and he should wait until the road was cleared before proceeding on. Joel stated the Marine needed vital medical assistance that could not be furnished in the field and he stated "If I stay in the very same tracks I made coming up, then we will be "O.K." Joel's decision was based on the condition of the injured Marine only, not his and the other Corpsman's safety. At this time Joel got out of his vehicle and was only ¼ width of the left front tire of the ambulance when a land mine detonated, killing Joel instantly. The Corpsman from Three Fingers and the injured Marine that had now suffered two mine explosions within an hour's time, were blown from the ambulance and landed in a rice paddy face down. The Marines that were clearing the road ran to their assistance pulling them from the rice paddy. They called in a Medevac, and the injured were sent straight to First Med.
While Joel was in country, he had been notified by the family that he was the proud Father of a son. This would be a son he would never see.
To Joel's son: You can be so very proud of your father. He was a very dedicated Corpsman and gave his life attempting to get medical help for an injured individual.
Rest in Peace, Joel. You are not forgotten by the ones that were there with you, your family and friends.
|Causalities (All Battalions) NEED MAY????|
Secure Credit Card Donations [ IRS Tax EIN 91-2111544 ]
2013 Donors: Thank you for your support!
Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds*
LtCol Phil Weigand, USMC (Ret)
Bobby Joe Blythe
LtCol Williard Lochridge, USMC (Ret)
Dr John D Price
LtCol Ray Stewart, USMC (Ret)**+
LtCol Ev Tunget, USMC (Ret)
Maj Frank Box, USMC (Ret)
David 'Doc' Forsyth
Robert F. (Bob) Singer
LtCol Frank Slovik, UISMC (Ret)
Maj Ed Stith, UISMC (Ret)
Stephen C. Arnone
Bobby Joe Blythe
The Foundation is proud to announce that there has been quite a positive response to our e-mail asking for your help; financial assistance, submission of your personal stories, and recollections of your "Vietnam Days," adding to the Foundation Library, and volunteering to carry some of the day-to-day work load. The level of financial contributions are recognized with an Award Certificate as follows:
Platinum Plus ~ $1,000 Plus
Platinum ~ $250 - $999
Gold ~ $100 - $249
Silver ~ $50 - $99
Bronze ~ $1 - $49
There is a parallel process for rewarding your in kind, non-monetary (books, documents, articles for the Breech Block, etc.), and volunteer effort (assisting with Command Chronology research, Oral History summary report writing, etc) as well. Just contact me and we'll agree on where your work would be most meaningful for you in the context of our day-to-day goals attainment effort, the type of non-monetary donation you would like to make, and/or your planned article. Each Breech Block will cite donors and the VTHF web site will periodically post the up-to-date cumulatives.
If you desire to make your gift specific to our Book Project, please so indicate. Unless you specify otherwise, we will apply your donation where most appropriate. Of course, should you desire to remain anonymous, we'll honor that wish as well.
Thank you for your assistance.
**In-Kind & Monetary
Your continued support is appreciated.
Please send your Tax Deductible Donation to:
MCVTHF, 707 S.W. 350th Ct., Ste. #1
Federal Way, WA 98023
IRS Approved Tax EIN 91-2111544
A 501(c)(19) Non-profit Historical Foundation
|Official United States Marine Corps Playbook |
TRICARE and New Emergency Centers
Week of April 22, 2013
TRICARE beneficiaries may have noticed new kinds of "Emergency Centers" popping up in their area. Free-standing emergency rooms (ER) that are not affiliated with a hospital may not be TRICARE-authorized, which can leave a beneficiary stuck with a big bill. Beneficiaries need to "know before you go." Check a free-standing ER's TRICARE status -- before emergency care is needed. Beneficiaries can check if a provider is TRICARE-authorized by calling their regional contractor. Contact information for regional contractors is available on the TRICARE website at www.tricare.mil/contactus. All TRICARE network providers are also searchable at www.tricare.mil/findaprovider. Learn more about emergency care under TRICARE on the TRICARE Emergency Care webpage at www.tricare.mil/emergency.
For guides to all TRICARE benefits, visit the Military.com TRICARE section.
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
October 31 to November 5, 2013
San Antonio, Texas
We have contracted with the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the River Walk for a $99 per night room rate.
Free daily self-parking.
We will also get a 20% discount on food and drinks (not alcoholic drinks) in the hotel restaurants and bars.
We will be allowed this same room rate for three days prior and three days after the reunion if you want to spend more time in the city.
Call the hotel at 1-888-623-2800 after 10/1/12 but before 10/1/13 to make room reservations.
Our hospitality room (that we call "The Slop Shute") will be the same size as the one that we had in San Diego in 2011.
There will be lots to do while we are visiting this San Antonio. We are formulating activity plans that will be announce as they are completed.
Please mark your calendars and start saving your money to meet and greet with your brothers in arms.
We encourage you to bring your wives or your girl friends and as many of your family members as you want to attend.
USMC ONTOS Reunion
May 8 - 11, 2013, Quantico
Details: Final agenda
Contact: Louis Nafjus,
September 4 - 8, 2013
Clarion Branson Hotel
2820 W 76 Country Blvd, Branson, MO 65616
Call for room reservations: (800) 725-2236
Mention you are w/the Marine Corps Mustang Reunion
Marine Corps Mustang web site if you have any questions or concerns please contact Joe Mouton, Roger Speeg, or Dwayne Dupeire.
We Really Need Your Assistance
One of the toughest job in any organization is keeping membership information up-to-date.
You might believe we have all your information since you are already receiving the Breech Block newsletter but, the simple facts are we do not. Even though your membership in the Historical Foundation is free when you join the USMC Vietnam Tankers Association that information is not automatically shared with the Foundation.
From time to time we send out pertinent information to those that served in the various Tank Battalions, i.e. 1st Tanks, 3rd Tanks, Ontos, etc.
Please take the time to go to the bottom of this newsletter and click on "Update Profile/Email Address."
You guys are terrific; we appreciate your support.
Dick Carey, V.P.
Director Public Relations
Can't Access Links
|We have had a few emails stating that it was not possible to click on a link or the wording, photos, etc. were not as they should be on the page. |
With each issue of the Breech Block and other important emails sent to you there is a wording at the top of each email that states: "Having trouble viewing this email? Click here." If you are having an issue such as this be sure to click on the aforementioned link. This should resolve any problem, if not let us know.
Try phrases like: dramatic savings, clearance, overstocked, reduced rates, buy 1 get 1 free, treat yourself, you deserve it, and don't miss out. Insert a link in the promotion to your website. Because links are tracked, you can see which promotions generate the most interest in your customers.
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THE BREECH BLOCK
Vice President & Editor
Marketing & Production
Richard "Dick" Carey
LtCol Raymond A. Stewart USMC (Ret.)
Archivist in Residence
BA in History, MLIS
Author in Residence
Dr. Oscar "Ed" Gilbert
Historian in Residence
BA and MA in History
Lloyd 'Pappy' Reynolds
Board of Directors
LtCol Raymond A. Stewart,
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
Richard 'Dick' Carey
Founder, USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
Charles 'Chuck' Garrison
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
LtGen Martin R. Steele,
USMC Vietnam Tankers Association
Col William 'Bill' Davis,
Robert 'Mike' Flick
David 'Doc' Forsyth
Dr. Ken Estes,
LtCol, USMC (Ret)
MGySgt Donald Gagnon,
Robert Hugh Gage
1st Marine Division
1st Tank Battalion
03 July 1966
PP/ Staff Sergeant
30 September 1974
"Marines" and the Eagle, Globe and Anchor are trademarks of the U.S. Marine Corps, used with permission. Neither the U.S. Marine Corps nor any other component of the Department of Defense has approved, endorsed or authorized this newsletter.