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Navy Medicine History

Navy Medicine has a long and proud history. The first shots of the American Revolution fired at Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775 marked both the birth of a nation and the Continental Army. However, it was the British blockade of the American coast and the need to break that blockade that spawned the Continental Navy and ultimately what we now call the Navy Medical Department. Aboard ships captained by the likes of John Paul Jones and John Barry, were the first sickbays where ship surgeons, assisted by loblolly boys, practiced their healing craft. Although science and medicine has changed greatly over the last three centuries, Navy Medicine’s mission of healthcare and readiness remains true today as it did in the “Age of Sail.”​


 History Blog


Witness to Pearl Harbor: USS Solace

By André B. Sobocinski, Historian, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

USS Solace 0755, Sunday, December 7th, 1941.  Pearl Harbor, T.H.  A group of physicians eating breakfast in the wardroom of the hospital ship USS Solace (AH-5) become startled when several explosions were heard.  As the ship began to vibrate the impression that an earthquake had hit soon shifted …


The Enduring Journey: A Historical Review of Medical Readiness through Training

By André B. Sobocinski, Historian, BUMED

With the pressing need for skilled medical personnel in the Korean War the Navy established Field Medical Service Schools (FMSS) in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and at Camp Pendleton, Calif.[i] Between October 1950 and July 1953 over 5,000 Hospital Corpsmen trained as field medical technicians at these schools, among them four individuals who later received the Medal of Honor for their heroic deeds on the Korean peninsula.


Reaching the Pinnacle: The Origin of Independent Duty Corpsmen (IDCs) in the U.S. Navy

By André B. Sobocinski, Historian, BUMED

On the night of April 17, 1918, the ammunition ship SS Florence “H,” caught fire while moored in Quiberon Bay in the south coast of Brittany, France.

Junior medical officer holding a first aid class prior to Iwo Jima engagement, 1943.JPG
Junior medical officer holding a first aid class prior to Iwo Jima engagement, 1943

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