Hospital Corpsmen served on the beaches not only
in the island campaigns of the Pacific, but in Europe as
well. Teams of Navy medical personnel formed aid
stations with beach battalions at Sicily and Normandy,
treating Army and allied wounded under fire. Hospital
Corpsmen ensured the survival of these casualties until
they could reach hospitals in England.
Of all the Hospital Corpsmen in World War II,
Fleet Marine Force personnel endured, perhaps, the
most grueling side of war. As they swarmed numerous
beaches in the Pacific, they became targets themselves
as they braved fire to reach downed comrades. At
Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Saipan, Tinian,
Kwajalein, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, Hospital
Corpsmen bled and died, often in greater numbers than
the Marines for whom they cared. Hospital Corps
casualties in the 4th Marine Division at Iwo Jima, for
example, were 38 percent.
Members of the Hospital Corps treated some
150,000 combat casualties during the war.
number does not include thousands of othersthose
plagued by disease and injured in the line of
dutywho were aided by their medical shipmates.
The cost of this service was high: 1,170 Hospital
Corpsmen were killed in action and thousands more
But their valor was rewarded.
Hospital Corpsmen earned 7 Medals of Honor (almost
half of those awarded to Sailors in the war), 66 Navy
Crosses, 465 Silver Star Medals, and 982 Bronze Star
A NEW HOSPITAL CORPS
Massive reorganization of the armed forces took
place after World War II. A new Department of
Defense was established, and the Army-Navy Medical
Service Corps Act removed commissioned allied
health and medical administration officers from the
Hospital Corps. This law also provided for a separate
Dental Technician rating, which remained a
component of the Hospital Corps until 1972. Women
in the Hospital Corps had previously been WAVES, a
Figure APP-I-3.Women entered the Hospital Corps in World War II as WAVES.