By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs
BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- There are 57 etched names, ranging from the three youngest at age 19 to the oldest of age 37.
They all share two distinctive traits.
One is that they are all United States Navy hospital corpsmen.
The other is that they all have been lost in serving their country during time of war.
From the battlefields of Iraq to the firefights in Afghanistan, the names of those killed are represented on Naval Hospital Bremerton's Hospital Corps Heroes' Wall of Honor solemnly unveiled May 22.
The wall is a culmination of a fledgling idea by Hospital Corpsmen 2nd Class (Fleet Marine Force) Michael Nakamura and Derrick Ward.
"We are honored to have the privilege of presenting the Hospital Corps Heroes' Wall of Honor to Naval Hospital Bremerton. This memorial is dedicated to the 57 hospital corpsmen that were killed while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn from 2001-2015. This memorial is the second one of its kind in the Navy and it shows the sacrifices that all 57 corpsman and many before them have made for their country," said Nakamura.
According to Capt. Christopher Quarles, Naval Hospital Bremerton commanding officer, the 97 percent casualty survival rate of the two wars, although an unprecedented high mark, did come at the tragic cost of those corpsmen killed in the line of duty.
"Many died in helping others. This is an important dedication to honor those who gave their lives. It's only appropriate we recognize their sacrifice," Quarles said.
Nakamura acknowledged command leadership in helping with the process of organizing, creating, and finally unveiling the memorial, citing Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gretchen Albrecht to Command Master Chief Randy Pruitt to his immediate chain of command.
"It's been a long process. It's great to see the memorial up. It's important for carrying on the memory of our fallen corpsmen. When I first got here, Master Chief (Tom) Countryman told us 'to leave the place better off than when you arrived,' and I think this is a fitting reminder of that," Nakamura said.
Each portion and piece of the memorial carries a significance. There's a gold star for each fallen corpsmen. The flag was flown on May 13, which has been designated as 'Children of Fallen Patriots' day.
"Although not all the corpsmen were FMF qualified, they all represented the last line between life and death for those they cared for," said Ward, adding that their project really started from how the loss of Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Anthony Carbullido, who was assigned to Naval Hospital Corps School, Great Lakes, Illinois, touched many Sailors learning to become corpsmen, as well as staff members.
Carbullido, a Guam native, was 25 years old when he volunteered to go as an Individual Augmentee on deployment. On Aug. 8, 2006, he died from injuries sustained when his convoy vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Sangatesh.
"I had just got to the schoolhouse and definitely knew of HM2 Carbullido. He was so well liked and respected. He volunteered to go IA, and when everyone there heard the news, they were devastated," shared Chief Hospital Corpsman Melyncholi Saxton, NHB Command Career Counselor office.
Nakamura and Ward accepted thanks for numerous co-workers for their work to make the memorial a reality.
"It's a great effort. We appreciate it," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Alexander Bransdorf, surgical technician.
After the memorial was unveiled, the event culminated with Nakamura taking the opportunity to reenlist.
"The energy and idea to make this happen is special. HM2 is also a special Sailor. Along with Ward, they have taken the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) training and made it regionally recognized. It is an honor to reenlist someone who has done so much for NHB and Navy Medicine," said Lt. Cmdr. Louise Nellums, NHB staff Education Training department head.
The Hospital Corps Heroes' Wall of Honor joins other notable remembrance walls at NHB for hospital corpsmen who have received the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, and those listed prisoner of war/missing in action (POW/MIA).