YOKOSUKA, KANAGAWA, JAPAN
YOKOSUKA, Japan – U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka celebrated the 142nd birthday of the U.S. Navy Medical Corps with a ceremony and cake cutting in the hospital auditorium, March 4.
“All the corps, the medical corps, the medical service corps, the nurse corps and the dental corps, we all celebrate our birthdays every year,” said Capt. Mark Turner, USNH Yokosuka commanding officer. “The corps has a long tradition within the Navy and military, and this is an opportunity to look back at the members of the medical community and all the corps has done. It's also a way of looking forward to all the years ahead.”
The ceremony kicked off with the debut of USNH Yokosuka Voice Choir, Hospital Corpsmans Yolanda Neal, Morgan Jacobs and Elene Head, singing the national anthem. Then, following tradition, four officers representing each of the four branches read speeches on the significance of the day and Medical Corps birthday wishes to Rear Adm. Colin Chinn, chief of Navy Medical Corps.
Capt. Benjamin Lee, director Branch Health Clinics, then read a brief history of the Medical Corps and the accomplishments of notable people from the corps' history. According to Lee the Naval Appropriations Act of 1871 established the Corps of Physicians as an official Navy Staff Corps.
The first physician in the U.S. Navy was George Balfour commissioned March 9, 1798, and the first woman physician was Dr. Achsa Bean commissioned in the Naval Reserves 1943. Seven Navy physicians served as astronauts, six received the Medal of Honor and Navy physicians provided medical care to U.S. presidents as far back as 1801. The group of physicians started out as only 60 and grew to more than 13,000 during World War II and is now approximately 3,500.
“The medical corp birthday is different because it brings all of our branches together like a family,” said Lee. “Nobody is an island to themselves, we all interact and work together to make these services great.”
The ceremony ended with another traditional event, the cutting of the cake. The Navy cake-cutting ceremony is different from a regular cake cutting. The most senior and most junior officers, Capt. Turner and Lt. Jennifer Berarducci respectively, cut a piece for each other.
“This symbolizes unity of purpose. Capt. Turner offers the first piece to Lt. Berarducci; this symbolizes trust, confidence and experience being handed down to the young Medical Corps officer who is entrusted with the future of the corps,” said Cmdr. Anthony Silvetti, master of ceremonies. “Lt. Berarducci then offers a piece to Capt. Turner symbolizing respect for the past and commitment to the legacy of service of those entrusted to our care.”
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