Since its creation, the U.S. Marine Corps has been involved in some of the most epic military battles in history. From raising the flag at Iwo Jima to hunting terrorists in Iraq, it’s pretty much a guarantee that a Navy Corpsman was right next to his brothers during the action.

The unique bond between Marines and their “Doc” is nearly unbreakable.

Since the Marine Corps doesn’t have its own medical department and falls under the Department of the Navy, the majority of the medical treatment Marines receive comes directly from the Naval Hospital Corps.

So, why are some Corpsmen considered Marines when they’re in the Navy and never went through the Corps’ tough, 13-week boot camp? Well, we’re glad you asked.

Here’s why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren’t
U.S. Navy Hospitalman Leonard Christopher, corpsman, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, poses for a portrait during Mountain Training Exercise 1-21 on Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport, California, Oct. 12, 2020. Marines participated in MTX to hone their combat and survival skills in an austere mountain environment. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Colton Brownlee/USMC)

It’s strictly an honorary title and not every Corpsman earns that honor. In fact, it’s hard as f**k to earn the respect of a Marine when you’re in the Navy — it’s even harder getting them to say happy birthday to you every November 10.

After a Corpsman graduates from the Field Medical Training Battalion, either at Camp Pendleton or Camp Lejeune, they typically move on to one of three sections under the Marine Air Ground Task Force, or MAGTF. Those three sections consist of Marine Air Wing (or MAW), Marine Logistics Group (or MLG), and Division (or the Marine Infantry).

Field Medical Training Battalion Navy Marine instructors
Navy and Marine instructors with Field Medical Training Battalion, Camp Pendleton, pin the symbolic Medical Shield insignia on the newest Fleet Marine Force corpsmen graduating from the school, March 25. More than 280 corpsmen graduated as part of the largest graduating class in the school’s history. (USMC)

Not every Corpsman goes through the FMTB and, therefore, some won’t have the opportunity to serve with the Marines.

Once a Corpsman checks into his unit, however, he’ll eat, train, sleep, and sh*t with his squad, building that special bond.

This starts the journey of earning the honorary title of Marine.

Once the unit deploys, the squad’s Corpsman will fight alongside his Marines, facing the same dangers as brothers. That “Doc” will fire his weapon until one of the grunts gets hurt, then he’ll switch into doctor mode.

Here’s why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren’t
Can you spot the “Doc” in this photo? It’s tough, right? I’m the tall drink of water in the middle (Courtesy of author)

After spending time with the grunts, studying Marine culture, Corpsmen can take a difficult test and earn the designation of FMF, or Fleet Marine Force, and receive a specialized pin.

Here’s why some Corpsmen are considered Marines, and some aren’t
Behold, the almighty FMF pin in all of its glory.

Notice the mighty eagle, globe, and anchor placed directly in the middle of the pin. Once a “Doc” gets this precious symbol pinned above his U.S. Navy name tape, he earns a measure of pride and the honorary title of Marine.

Semper fi, brothers! Rah!


This article was written by Tim Kirkpatrick and originally published on WE ARE THE MIGHTY.