News: Corpsman enables field training during exercise Cobra Gold 2013
Story by Lance Cpl. Adam Miller
BAN CHAN KREM, Thailand - When Marines and sailors go to the field, whether they are conducting training or are in an a combat environment, they need food, water and shelter just like everyone else. But do they think about what it takes to ensure the food and water is safe to consume and that their shelter is safe to sleep in? The short of it is: they don’t have to.
They do not have to worry about the safety of their food, water and shelter because that is what Petty Officer 2nd Class Harold D. Sylvester, and others like him, does every time he is in the field, and it is no different during exercise Cobra Gold 2013 at Ban Chan Krem, Kingdom of Thailand.
Sylvester is a hospital corpsman and preventative medicine technician with Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is attached to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, as part of the Marine Corps’ unit deployment program.
During Cobra Gold field training, Sylvester works from before the sun rises until well past sunset, ensuring the water and food Marines and sailors consume is safe, and the shelter under which they reside is free of disease-carrying pests like mosquitoes and flies.
“His long-term planning, precise execution and superior leadership have been nothing short of phenomenal,” said Chief Petty Officer Sanket S. Sadalge, a chief hospital corpsman and the battalion aid station senior enlisted leader. “HM2 Sylvester embodies what it means to have unparalleled technical expertise.”
Sylvester initiated a health safety certification process that local establishments where Marines and sailors eat are required follow. This had never been done before at Ban Chan Krem.
“It’s a testament to the type of sailor he is and the dedication to his profession,” said Sadalge.
Every day he runs a series of tests on all water sources used by the Marines and sailors, not only at base camp but at the firing ranges as well.
“I ensure the drinking water is free of communicable diseases after it has been pumped and filtered from a nearby pond; it is not safe for drinking otherwise,” said Sylvester.
Sylvester is responsible for inspecting Marines’ and sailors’ food and water. He also ensures the use of proper disposal procedures, mitigating the health risks caused by disease spreading insects.
“I inspects the few restaurants in Ban Chan Krem where Marines and sailors frequently eat, warranting the food being served is prepared in a sanitary manner,” said Sylvester. “I go around the camp doing vector control operations, spraying insecticide around the areas in which Marines and sailors conduct training and reside.”
A successful Cobra Gold field training evolution means that everyone involved is able to get quality training, explained Capt. Brandon M. Stibb, Headquarters and Service Company commander.
“I have never met a preventative medicine tech who is as thorough as Doc Sylvester,” said Stibb. “We didn’t have a single case of a Marine or sailor being pulled from this important training exercise due to illness, and I think it is all thanks to his dedication.”
According to Saldage and Stibb, the battalion’s success during Cobra Gold can be attributed to Sylvester because without him the battalion would not be able to train at full strength.
Exercise Cobra Gold is the largest multinational exercise in the Asia-Pacific region and provides the Kingdom of Thailand, United States, Singapore, Japan, Republic of Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia an opportunity to maintain relationships and enhance interoperability. The exercise includes humanitarian and civic assistance projects, a staff exercise and field training exercises.