immeasurable confidence to your comrades underarms. Their bravery was fortified by the knowledge that the corpsmen, the sailors of solace, were literally at their sides with the skill and means to staunch wounds, allay pain and to carry them back, if need be, to safe shelter and the ministrations of the finest medical talent in the world.
You corpsmen performed fox-hole surgery while shell fragments clipped your clothing, shattered the plasma bottles from which you poured new life into the wounded, and snipers bullets were aimed at the brassards on your arms. On Iwo Jima, for example, the percentage of casualties among your corps was greater than the proportion of losses among the Marines. Two of your colleagues who gave their lives in that historic battle were posthumously cited for the Medal of Honor. One of the citations reads: By his great personal valor in saving others at the sacrifice of his own life (he) inspired his companions, although terrifically outnumbered, to launch a fiercely determined attack and repulse the enemy force. All that he had in his hands were the tools of mercy, yet he won a memorable victory at the cost of his life.
No wonder men and women are proud to wear the emblem of the Hospital Corps! It is a badge of mercy and valor, a token of unselfish service in the highest calling the saving of life in the service of your country.
Your corps men and women toiled, often as dangerously, never less vitally, in areas remote from battle: In hospitals, on hospital ships, in airplanes, in laboratories and pharmacies and dispensaries. They helped, and are helping (for the task is far from over) in the salvage of mens broken bodies and minds that is the grim product and perennial aftermath of war. Some of you contributed skills in dental technology, some engaged in pest control to diminish unfamiliar diseases, others taught natives of distant islands the benefits of modern hygiene, even to midwifery and everyday sanitation.
Scores of corpsmen, made prisoners of war, used their skill and strength to retain life and hope in their fellow captives through long years of imprisonment and deprivation.
Whatever their duty, wherever they were, the men and women of the Hospital Corps served the Navy and served Humanity, with exemplary courage, sagacity and effort. The performance of their duties has been in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. That, to any man or woman, is the highest of praise. The corps has earned it and continues to earn it.
For, as I said, the task is not yet completed. Thousands of the wars casualties will long need the ministrations of physicians, nurses, and the Hospital Corps before they can return to normal, peacetime pursuits. Hundreds may have to be cared for as long as they live; that these unfortunates are so few is in large measure due to the prompt, skillful aid accorded our wounded and stricken, by your corps.
Illness and accident will add to these numbers, of course. There will always be the sick and injured, and there will always be need for trained personnel to help restore them. The Navys best laboratories are forever engaging in research to combat disease, to speed the healing of torn flesh and broken bones, to devise new aids for the maimed to lead a normal life. And so I am impelled to address this message not only to the men and women of the corps who have completed their service to the Navy, but to those who are presently in the Corps, and, also, to those who are joiningor rejoiningin that inspiring career.
It is no easy profession, even in peacetime. There is danger in the test tubes and culture racks as menacing as in the guns of an unvanquished enemy. The Hospital Corps is never at peace. It is forever on the firing line in the ceaseless war against disease and premature death. That is why the corps emblem is truly the red badge of courage, a designation to all the world that the person who wears it has been self-dedicated to the service of humanity.
Customarily the Well done signal is reserved for the closing phrase of a message of congratulations, but I placed it in the forefront where, in this instance, it most fittingly belongs. I repeat it,