The heritage of the US Navy Corpsman, a.k.a. Devil Docs and Hospital Corps places a special expectation on every new member. You are responsible for upholding its proud tradition. The tradition of “service with distinction” has been established by your predecessors in every corner of the world and under every kind of adversity. Your shipmates deserve your respect and count on your skills. They merit your confidence; coupled with your skills you will carry on in the proud tradition of the Hospital Corps. Professional ethics is the key to service with distinction.

US Navy Corpsman History

WW2 Navy Corpsman “Devil Doc” painting


The history of the US Navy Hospital Corps officially started on 17 June 1898 when President William McKinley signed a bill into law creating the first enlisted US Navy enlisted medical career field. At that time the Spanish American War was brewing on the horizon and the US Navy and Marines needed a well trained professional medical department. Since that day Hospital Corpsmen have served on every continent, on every warship, submarine; on every ocean alongside their fellow Sailor and Marine.

US Navy Corpsman saving lives


The rating badge of the Hospital Corpsman has remained the same since the last major revision the of the medical department following WW II.  Effective 2 April 1948 the Navy changed the names and insignia of the Hospital Corps. The new titles were Hospital Recruit, Hospital Apprentice, Hospitalman, Hospital Corpsmen Third, Second, and First class, and Chief Hospital Corpsman.

US Navy Corpsman in action

A U.S. Navy Corpsman with Expeditionary Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, observes a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman with Force Reconnaissance Platoon, Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), providing aid to a simulated casualty while conducting visit, board, search and seizure training during an Amphibious Ready Group/Marine Expeditionary Unit Exercise (ARG/MEU-Ex) aboard the USNS Robert E. Peary June 19, 2015. Marines and sailors with the 26th MEU and Amphibious Squadron 4 are conducting an ARG/MEU-Ex in preparation for their deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility later this year. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua W. Brown)

The red Geneva cross, which had marked Corpsmen for 50 years, was replaced in the rating badge with the original mark of the winged caduceus. Since that time all Navy Corpsmen have worn the symbol of the medical department on their uniform both in the hospitals and on the battlefields where they earned the title of “Doc”.


The design encompasses the traditional caduceus in an entire new manner encompassing the tools of the Corpsman trade: the wings are made of surgical instruments used to heal the wounds of war. The Marine Corps emblem the EGA is features to recognize the feats of the Navy Corpsmen embed with the Fleet Marine Force on the fields of battle. The army Combat Medic Badge is reminiscent of the Navy Corpsmen who have helped to augment shortages within the army and served in battle with the “Joes”. The body of the design is made from the Vietnam War era First Aid Kit, and pistol holster. We find the emblem of the Purple Heart medal featuring George Washington’s likeness in remembrance of all the blood shed and the disproportionate amount of wound received in battle by Corpsmen tending to their patients. The stethoscope tells every Sailor and Marine that no matter what Doc is always there to listen to your problems. The syringe and needle represent the garrison task of maintaining medical readiness by conducting immunizations to keep the warfighting force health and prepared.


The Hospital Corps is the most decorated branch of the United States Navy and has fought on the front lines of every battle in United States history. Hospital Corpsman have served courageously on ships and valiantly on the battlefields of every conflict, caring for injured Sailors and Marines. To date, there have been 22 Medal of Honor recipients from the Hospital Corps; this is half of all the Medal of Honor’s awarded to the Department of the Navy. There have been 174 Navy Crosses, 31 Distinguished Service Medals, 946 Silver Stars, and 1582 Bronze stars awarded to Hospital Corpsman since the establishment of the Hospital Corps. Additionally, there have been 14 Naval Vessel’s that have been named for Hospital Corpsman, and several hospitals and clinics also bear the names of courageous individuals that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom.