MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Adapt and overcome. This is a phrase often used by Marines in the field. It relates back to the idea of not letting obstacles get in the way of accomplishing the mission.
For Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin Wilson and the rest of the battalion aid station staff, it means using the environment to ensure service members’ needs are met.
Wilson, a hospital corpsman with Truck Support Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, supported Exercise Steel Knight 2015. 1st Marine Division acted as the headquarters element for I Marine Expeditionary Force during the exercise.
Wilson joined the Navy in 2005 as an undesignated seaman before becoming a hospital corpsman in 2007.
“For the first couple years of my service, I was just painting the rails on ships and sweeping the decks,” Wilson said. “It wasn’t until I deployed to Guatemala on a humanitarian assistance deployment that I found my calling, and that calling is to take care of service members. Both my grandfathers were in the Navy, so for me it was the logical choice.”
Being a corpsman for seven years, Wilson is one of the most experienced corpsmen participating in the exercise. He routinely cares for patients out in the field. The environment forces him to think outside the box when it comes to medical aid.
“To us, everything is a piece of medical equipment,” said Wilson. “It is essential for corpsmen to be trained to improvise. We have to be able to use our surroundings.”
Wilson helps train new corpsmen to use random equipment around them for medical purposes such as exercise equipment, a container and other miscellaneous gear.
“They train us to work with what we have around us,” said Seaman Edward Piechel, a hospital corpsman with the company. “We do the best we can to continue to care for them in the field. That way when they go back to the rear, they are not taking a step back in their recovery, they are still advancing forward.”
Wilson has worked with Navy units and Marine units. He’s cared diligently for the service members during field exercises, like Steel Knight, back at the barracks of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and while deployed. He continues to adapt and overcome to ensure the Marines are well taken care of regardless of their environment.