Corpsmen Never Forget

Every time I hear news on the television that one of our servicemen was killed overseas it brings to mind my time when I served as a corpsman with 2nd Bn 5th Marines in 66 and 67 in Vietnam. Our Battalion had lots of Marines killed and wounded and I personally was involved with providing medical care to many of them either in Hotel Company or while at the Bn Aid Station. The Marines depended on their corpsmen to perform their duty when the time came. Far too often, many of the wounded had horrific wounds from mines or other high intensity explosions and our best was not good enough to save their lives.

Heroic acts during these times left the corpsman to ponder their own mortality when nothing worked. We all knew things would happen that we could not control and all we tried to do was save a good buddy’s life. We knew most of the Marines we took care of as we lived among them for months and considered them our brothers and at times cared more for them than our own family members. Combat does that to people.

Most of the corpsmen serving with grunt units were young, usually 19-22 years of age and some older. Our medical training was adequate at the time but not enough when things got really sour. We were expected to provide emergency medical care that a trauma trained surgeon would be hard pressed to perform under the circumstances. When our best failed and we lost a Marine, we were the first to know it, many hours before their family would receive word. I remember thinking I let my Marines down when I was unable to save a friend. It haunted me then, it haunts me now and even more on the day when they died. It never fades for memories last forever and I remember every wounded and dead Marine I took care of. I am sure many others out there feel the same way. Marine corpsmen never forget and I just wanted to express my thoughts because Memorial Day is almost here.

Roger Ware
2/5, 66-67, Vietnam

Sgt Grit wants to hear from you! Leave your comments below or submit your own story!


  • Russ Brayton

    Corpsmen. Everyone of them a Marine! Thank you for watching after us. It is easier to do some of the things that needed done knowing there was someone right next to us doing their level best to look after us when disaster struck. Oorah, Devil Docs! They had a better handle on Semper Fi than many who earned the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.

  • Robert E. Hays

    Thanks for that brutally honest post. I was attached as Sr. Corpsman to Delta Co., 1/4, 3rd Mar Div ’68-’69. I ALWAYS felt inadequate, even though several Marines have told me since then that I was really good. I am just glad to hear someone else say what I have wanted to say for a long time.

  • Gunny48

    In reply to Patriot0311.
    “that there are certain things that a Marine would have no problem killing for, trust me, right at the top is our Doc.” – And the rest of us will help you hide the body….Semper fidelis.



  • Lionel “Leo” Caldeira

    Roger, your sincere and heartfelt sentiments, which were probably difficult to pen were however, profoundly well expressed. It’s generally understood that Navy Corpsmen, especially those who serve within Marine infantry units during time of war are recognized as a special breed of men, especially by the Marines they accompany. To serve in such a physically and mentally demanding capacity reveals a person who possesses an unselfish attitude and a genuine desire to do that difficult job. As personal, traumatic experiences cannot be altogether forgotten nor past events altered, I think all we can really do afterward is to always remember and revere those who died, being ever mindful of their individual, ultimate sacrifice (also, not forgetting of course, those who were severely wounded, either physically or mentally). Here’s wishing you and all Navy Corpsmen the best….and like all Marines, offer our deepest appreciation for all you and the others did and to Corpsmen everywhere who continue to perform that extraordinary duty. Semper Fi

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