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Navy hospital corpsmen at the Marine Aircraft Group 16 flight line aid station ensure medical readiness, perform injury assistance and offer medical support during squadron deployments.

Photo by Cpl Aubry L. Buzek

Flightline aid station ‘Docs’ keep pilots, aircrew flyin’

18 Sep 2009 | Cpl Aubry L. Buzek

Wherever there are Marines there’s a Navy hospital corpsman nearby, whether at sea,  in the desert or on a Marine installation.

For Marine Aircraft Group 16, “nearby” means just feet away from the air station flight line. In a small, aged white building in front of hangar 5, a group of corpsman stand ready for anything that might come their way.

The sailors at the flight line aid station are available for injury assistance should a Marine need help, but the main parts of their job consist of medical readiness and medical support during a unit deployment. The daily mission consists of keeping up with immunizations, physicals and medical records. By being so close to the flight line, the sailors are better able to keep up with the Marine’s medical readiness.

“The Marines are a lot more accessible,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jacob Rottsolk, the senior squadron corpsman at the flight line aid station. “Medical readiness is better because we are here as opposed to the clinic.”

 “The main thing is making sure the pilots and air crews are good to go and good to fly; it reduces the amount of mishaps that could happen,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Rene Salazar, a corpsman at the flight line aid station.

Working directly with the Marines on the flight line and in the field is an opportunity many corpsman don’t get. Many stay in the main clinic, and the ones that end up with the Marines on the flight line have different duties.

 “Being stationed with Marines is totally different than being with a Navy unit,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Brokar, the leading petty officer at the flight line aid station. “You actually get to do more with a Marine unit than with a Navy squadron. Whenever a squadron deploys, we go with them.”

The difference between the corpsman’s role at home and their role deployed is a wider range of duties. While deployed, they must perform everything from routine medical care to treating potable water.

“It’s a challenging experience, but we have more opportunity to learn,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Raquel Havig, a corpsman at the flight line aid station. “There is a broader availability and necessity of what you have to provide to the Marines.”

By being so close to the Marines on the flight line and helping them maintain medical readiness, the sailors at the flight line aid station experience a relationship with the Marines many corpsman working at the clinic do not.

 “This is my first time stationed with Marines,” said Brokar.  “Working with and taking care of [them] has been great. I feel like I’m doing something that matters.”

A corpsman is a necessity when it comes to mission accomplishment, because when Marines are medically ready and healthy they can perform their best to get the job done. For Marines of MAG-16, this link to mission success is right on the flight line whenever they need a hand.


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing