MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Two sailors with different backgrounds both have a similar passion, and they brought it with them to serve as hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy.
Petty Officers 2nd Class Devin L. Turner and Wendell Tabios are the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element’s hospital corpsman. There are no medical personnel organic to the Marine Corps. For these needs, Marines rely on the Navy’s corpsmen, more commonly referred to as “docs.” As a team they are in charge of meeting the medical needs of 15th MEU personnel.
A MEU’s command element can have as many as four corpsmen working to accomplish the same mission that Turner and Tabios do. However, the dynamic duo doesn’t settle for only meeting a standard. They ensure they go above and beyond for each of the command’s Marines.
“Whatever the medical issue may be, we try to see if it can be taken care of inside the command post,” said Turner. “If they need to be taken to the clinic, then so be it, but myself or Tabios would escort the Marine down to ensure that it becomes a priority for the clinic through the large amount of patients they see,” added the Fresno, Calif. native.
As corpsmen in the Navy, there are countless specialties in their field. Between the two, there is experience in nearly all of the different aspects, making the two invaluable to the unit. They combine their experience, both military and civilian, and use it to better serve their unit.
The two are more experienced than your average doc. Prior to joining the Navy, Tabios, 36, came from a medical billing background, and earned a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration, learned medical terminology and studied anatomy.
In his eight years in the Navy, he has served with Marine air wing units and has also completed a deployment with the 15th MEU.
Turner started working at a hospital at the age of 18, and that’s when his medical journey began. He believes he was born with a passion for helping people, and it started in elementary school when he would volunteer with special needs children. Now 28, he even has applications on his personal smart phone to help better diagnose the problems some of his Marines may have.
In his five years in the Navy, he completed a combat tour and worked at Naval Medical Center San Diego in the emergency room where he led a section and worked in the surgical ward.
“When you find passion in what you do every day it makes it that much better,” said Turner, a statement that rings true with both docs.
In addition to being corpsmen, the two have their fair share of collateral duties. They both give medical guidance to the unit’s Force Preservation Board and are also Combat Life Saver instructors who pass on medical knowledge to their unit’s Marines.
Another instance that makes the two docs stand out is the fact they volunteered for orders to a green side (Marine Corps) unit – a more demanding assignment, they said.
They have adopted the same respect Marines have when wearing the combat utility uniform, just like any good Marine would.
“I’m proud to work with the Marines,” said Turner, who ensures his uniform is always pressed. “There is that pride about having earned that title of Marine. We are very proud to serve alongside them.”
The team also has plans to volunteer in their free time as it relates to their specialty.
“I really want to continue helping people and get better at what I do,” said Turner. “I’m looking at volunteering at some places that take care of the elderly.”
No matter where the unit’s mission takes them, they are able to accomplish their section’s mission of taking care of Marines – even if it means just a cold or a cough at sick call. Sick call is held from 8 a.m to 10 a.m., but Marines can see the docs as situations dictate, Turner said.
“Sick call is definitely one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” said Turner. “I really feel like I’m making a difference and am taking care of the premier fighting force so they are ready to execute their mission.”
Tabios agreed that sick call was the most rewarding part of his job, too.
“After all, our job is to ensure that we as a unit are at a high state of readiness at all times.”