View Full Version : Alaskan Road: more than routine for '171 Docs

10-06-03, 07:05 AM
Alaskan Road: more than routine for '171 Docs
Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification Number: 2003102204610
Story by Cpl. Dave Boni

CAMP WY WUH ANNETTE ISLAND, Alaska(Oct. 3, 2003) -- With every deployment or training exercise a certain amount of dangers, due to seen or unforeseen reasons, exist.

To combat these hidden dangers and keep the Marines healthy and meeting mission, the Marine Corps has one secret weapon: Navy corpsman.

During Operation Alaskan Road, Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 face harsh weather conditions and dangerous terrain.

"Our job is to make sure that 72 MWSS-171 Marines get quality health care coverage during their entire deployment," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Bernard Spraggins, a corpsman attached to MWSS-171 and senior medical department representative for the deployment.

Not that ensuring their Marines are healthy and in good working condition was not enough to fill the corpsman?s days during OAR, Spraggins and his two Navy counterparts are also taking part in the Camp?s sick call with the other services? medics.

"At the sick call we treat all of the service members participating in OAR, and we work side by side with medics from the other services," said Spraggins.

Besides the regular sniffles and coughs associated with the change of climate, Spraggins said the most severe case they have had to treat was a Marine with a few scrapes and bruises.

"Being out in the open with the nearest hospital quite a distance away, it's good to see the Marines are being safe and watching out for each other. It makes our job a lot easier," said Spraggins, an Orange Park, Fla. native.

Although the corpsmen are used to working by themselves, the joint operation has taught them each something a little different.

"Working with the other services has instilled a greater pride of Navy medicine in me because our training really showed in Alaska," said Petty Officer 3rd class Nicholas Bowman, corpsman. "In the sick call we would be side be side with the other service members and we would compare notes, and I think they learned a lot from us."

Spraggins and fellow corpsman Petty Officer 2nd Class Kevin Taft both added that compiling the numerous medics and corpsman together increased the amount of patients seen and enabled them to learn from different methods used by the services.

"Any training exercise is good to go, but when you throw in the different tangibles when working with a joint operation, the final result is always a worthwhile experience," said Spraggins.

To go along with the medical support of '171, the corpsmen have thoroughly enjoyed all that Alaska has had to offer them.

"The scenery out here is nothing short of spectacular and the fishing is phenomenal. I try to take every military experience for what it?s worth - a new experience, and this one has been great," said Spraggins.


Petty Officer 2nd Class Bernard Spraggins performs a checkup on a service member during Operation Alaskan Road.

Photo by: Cpl. Dave Boni