USS PELELIU – Corpsman up! Many Marines do not realize the hard work their unit’s corpsmen put in day in and day out. Three sailors with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit were recently recognized for their superior achievement over the past year as hospital corpsmen.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan G. Hachez, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Wendell Tabios and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Spencer C. McCartney have all been recognized as the 15th MEU’s Sailors of the Year. On a Sailor of the Year board, the categories are divided into three levels: bluejacket, for ranks of seaman recruit through seaman; junior sailor, for ranks of petty officer third class and petty officer second class; and senior sailor, for the rank of petty officer first class. Six competed, and each of their packages were carefully reviewed by the Navy senior enlisted leaders within the MEU.
Meet the 15th MEU’s three Sailors of the Year:
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan G. Hachez
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Ryan G. Hachez, leading petty officer, Health Services Detachment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th MEU, is a nine-year veteran of the Navy and sets the example for his 20 junior corpsmen every day.
“I was really happy when I found out about the award,” said Hachez, a 30-year-old native of Vista, Calif. “The award has a lot to do with my sailors. They have a lot of initiative and dedication, and me being submitted as one of the MEU’s Sailor’s of the Year is really a reflection of their hard work.”
Hachez is notorious in his detachment for pushing his sailors hard, but he is also known for pushing himself even harder.
“There’s an old saying in the Navy,” said Hachez with a smile. “Last Person Out is what LPO really stands for,” he added in reference to the acronym for his billet of leading petty officer.
He takes full responsibility for training his sailors as corpsmen and ensuring they earn their Navy qualifications. One of the many goals he has for them is for them to all earn their Fleet Marine Force, Air Warfare and Sea Warfare qualifications, an achievement that will make his sailors more competitive for promotion as the progress in rank.
Hachez holds many collateral duties such as command assistant substance abuse and control officer, uniformed victim advocate, career development team leader and fitness leader. As the fitness leader, he is the only sailor in the command qualified to monitor a physical readiness test and measure individuals who do not meet weight standards. Additionally, the UVA and assistant SACO are typically roles held by staff non-commissioned officers in the Marine Corps, which demonstrate Hachez’s versatility as a senior sailor.
“Hachez is an awesome [petty officer first class],” said Chief Petty Officer Hadrian V. Wei, leading chief petty officer, HSD, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “I am very lucky he came to the unit. As soon as he came here, he got to work right away looking out for his sailors and the HSD’s mission,” added the 38-year-old native of Daly City, Calif.
Hachez integrated his corpsmen with the Peleliu’s medical team, which was key in order to ensure the two teams were able to work together in a deployed environment. He also ensured all of his corpsmen attended Naval Trauma Training Center in Los Angeles, and he ensured all of corpsmen’s training was up-to-date before every field evolution.
“I’ve served on many Sailor of the Year/Quarter boards, and he has the most initiative and team spirit of any leading petty officer I’ve ever had,” added the 16-year veteran.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Wendell Tabios
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Wendell Tabios, hospital corpsman, Command Element, 15th MEU, was named the Junior Sailor of the Year for the MEU. A father of two, Tabios said he wished his family could have been with him when he received the news.
“I am truly grateful for the leaders who have recognized the hard work the 15th MEU medical team and I have put in over the past year,” he said.
Tabios, currently on his fifth deployment, has involved himself in his command and community as much as he is involved as a corpsman. He served as the senior medical department representative during a four-month gap of the senior enlisted leader, and continues to serve as the MEU’s medical readiness coordinator.
“Tabios is a rare breed,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer James D. Helt, medical planner and Navy senior enlisted leader, Command Element, 15th MEU. “He’s the giver. He truly cares for his Marines. You can see it through his daily contributions of his character, influence and professionalism. Those contributions to the Navy-Marine Corps team are our guiding principles,” added the 41-year-old native of Des Moines, Iowa.
In addition to being a well-rounded sailor, Tabios, an eight-year veteran of the Navy, was recently awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for the immediate response he took when responding to a head-on collision on Camp Pendleton in July.
According to the award citation, after Tabios arrived at the scene of the collision, “he immediately took charge and began initial assessment and treatment.” He used “his training and experience, he applied a c-collar to one incapacitated victim, assessed four other injuries, and with the assistance of two Marines, carefully extracted the patient from the burning vehicle.”
“I was just doing my job,” said Tabios. “I saw some people who needed help, so I stopped and helped.”
The 36-year-old sailor’s commitment to continued education and life-long learning is evident in his attainment of a bachelor’s degree in health science, and is carried over to educating his sailors. Training the stretcher bearers aboard the USS Peleliu on the treatment of chest wounds by controlling bleeding and monitoring airways, is one example of instruction Tabios conducts regularly to ensure the medical professionals aboard the PEL remain sharp. He also provided administrative training to the MEU’s junior corpsmen on their medical readiness reporting system.
“He’s the go-to-guy,” said Helt. “He’d give you the shirt off his back, and to me, that’s rare these days.”
He has conducted more than 400 audiograms, 250 physical health assessments, 212 physical examinations, 1300 immunizations, and has maintained a 97 percent medical readiness and a 98 percent dental readiness since the start of the unit’s pre-deployment training in February 2012.
“I want to be a good role model for junior sailors and my kids,” said Tabios. “I hope this gives them something to strive for.”
Hospital Corpsman Spencer C. McCartney
Twenty-two-year-old Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Spencer C. McCartney is the 15th MEU’s Blue Jacket Sailor of the Year and serves as the corpsman for the 81mm Mortar/Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th MEU.
“I am very excited to be selected as the Bluejacket Sailor of the Year,” said McCartney. “It’s been a hectic [pre-deployment], and I’m glad to see my hard work pay off,” added the native of Sandpoint, Idaho.
McCartney is known in his command for putting forth extra effort and taking a leadership role. His determined dedication to duty contributed to Weapons Company currently having the highest medical readiness in the BLT.
“McCartney is a hard-worker and has maintained Weapons Company’s medical readiness as the highest in the BLT,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Nicholas J. Ullrich, preventative medicine technician, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU.
It wasn’t hard for McCartney’s leadership to decide to nominate him for such a prestigious award.
“The SOY is for well-rounded sailors with extensive command and community involvement, demonstrating superior professionalism,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jeff M. Rollman, independent duty corpsman and leading petty officer, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “I can’t think of a sailor that fits that description better than McCartney,” added the 28-year-old native of Bullhead City, Ariz.
McCartney is also a combat life-saver instructor, and has set a goal to become an instructor at Field Medical Training Battalion, where corpsmen are indoctrinated into Marine Corps tradition.
“He’s an extremely dedicated sailor who is always staying up late to study for further qualifications,” said Rollman. “He continues to ask me for questions on anything he is unsure of.”
In his off hours, McCartney is involved with the Junior Enlisted Association on base (which base? San Diego?), a group of sailors who plan events such as the Navy Ball and the Corpsman Ball. On ship, he is involved in the Coalition for Sailors Against Destructive Decisions.
“McCartney has the quiet confidence you want to see when you’re assigning a corpsman to a platoon of Marines,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Matthew Hanley, assistant leading petty officer, BLT 3/5, 15th MEU. “I was the corpsman for [McCartney’s current platoon] last deployment, and I can’t think of a better sailor to step up and fill that role,” added the 27-year-old native of Los Angeles.
If there was one quality that both Rollman and Hanley felt described McCartney accurately, it was initiative.
“You never have to ask him to do anything,” said Hanley. “He requires little to no guidance, with no correction,” added the 6-year veteran of the Navy.
After winning the MEU board, the three devil docs will now be competing in the first Marine Expeditionary Force Sailor of the Year board against their respective peer groups.
“Myself and the other Navy senior enlisted leaders screened each of the packages before announcing the winners for the MEU,” said Helt. “We truly want the best sailors to win.”
The 15th MEU is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group as a U.S. Central Command theater reserve force, providing support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.