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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Fleet Marine Force Training Base"

FMTB-West celebrates 70 years of training FMF corpsmen

By Courtesy Story | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | November 13, 2020


U.S. Navy corpsmen have a long history serving alongside U.S. Marines. On Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the school that trains Fleet Marine Force corpsmen, Field Medical Training Battalion - West, is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

During the unit’s 70 years, FMTB-West has trained tens of thousands of corpsmen and medical officers for service alongside Marines. The school conducts four Field Medical Service Technician courses and two Field Medical Service Officer courses yearly. Each year, the courses graduate over 700 sailors as FMF corpsmen and medical officers.

“I owe the corpsmen who came before me, I have to keep carrying on their legacy and maintain our high standards so when it comes down to it, in combat, we don’t make mistakes and people won’t die,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chamu Chimhau, an instructor with FMTB-West.

During this anniversary, the students and staff will celebrate their rich history serving alongside Marines. One way they’ll be able to do that is by visiting their unit museum and learning their rich history. The museum has artifacts dating back to both world wars, such as photos, medicine and uniform items used by corpsmen throughout their history.

“My grandfather was a shopkeeper on a ship and my other grandfather was a Marine, both serving in World War II,” said Petty Officer 1st Class John Edstrom, an instructor at FMTB-West. “When I was nine or 10 years old, he told me about a corpsman patching up his leg. Then, I didn't know what a corpsman was, but now I feel like I am carrying on that same legacy.”

The museum also highlights the history of the women of WWII who served under the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES. These women helped break down barriers to shape the Navy as it is today.

“I recall the surrealism of standing in front of all of the students, and having the distinct honor to do so as the commanding officer of the same school I attended during the summer of 1998, at what was then called Field Medical Service School,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Jerry Bailey, the commanding officer of FMTB-West. “I cannot possibly formulate the words to describe the honor and privilege that has been bestowed upon me to lead both the students and incredible staff here at Field Medical Training Battalion - West and become part of that lineage.”

For the past 70 years, Camp Pendleton has proudly shared its Southern California home with the FMTB-West. FMTB-West takes pride in developing, coordinating, resourcing, executing and evaluating training and education concepts, policies, plans and programs to ensure FMF corpsmen are prepared for assignments with the operational forces.