SS RUSHMORE - Every day Marines risk their lives in combat overseas. Even in the most dire of situations, Marines can always count on the dedication of Navy corpsmen at their sides to care for them in the heat of battle.
One of these committed corpsmen is Petty Officer 2nd Class Marcel O. Fucci, who serves with Health Services Detachment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, deployed aboard USS Rushmore. Fucci, a 29-year-old native of Orlando, joined the Navy a week before the events on Sept. 11, 2001. Working as a corpsman for more than 11 years, he has learned what it means to help others.
In 2005, Fucci deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and now he is on his second deployment and his first time serving on a Navy vessel at-sea. From the time of his enlistment, and through his two deployments, he has changed and developed as a sailor, but what has not altered is his reason for enlisting.
“I chose to be a corpsman because it was something I thought I would enjoy doing, to help people,” said Fucci. “My first thought when I decided to join the military was that I wanted be with the Marines, but I also wanted to work in the medical field. Being a Navy corpsman has allowed me to do that.”
Identifying himself with the Marines, Fucci voluntarily decided to hold himself to the Marine Corps rules and regulations. Choosing this road requires him to take the same physical fitness tests and have the same uniform and regulations that will eventually be evaluated for future promotions.
“HM2 Fucci is a great corpsman, he does his job very well,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Daniel A. Paez, logistics specialist, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “He keeps himself to a higher standard. He even goes above and beyond Marine Corps [regulations], a route many corpsmen do not even choose.”
In his free time, Fucci tries to mentor junior Marines and sailors as much as possible, saying, “I relate to Marines as much as I do to sailors. The Marines give me the same respect as if I was a Marine myself.”
Fucci has had many obstacles in his career, but he says his greatest was when his wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It was at this point in his career when he realized he had a very difficult decision to make.
“After we found out she had cancer, we soon got the news that she was also pregnant,” said Fucci. “From the cancer, my son was born blind, and from there I had to decide if the Navy was still for me. I felt after all they did for me, I had to give back and continue to serve my country and still give my family all the support I could.”
He has learned a lot from his experience in the Navy. He learned the importance of responsibility and how to be a good leader. He learned not to take for granted the camaraderie between Marines and sailors and the friendships he has made. Finally, he learned to appreciate his work and his service to his country.
Fucci now looks forward to returning from his deployment and seeing his wife and two sons. He also plans to compete in the Armed Forces Pankration Wrestling Tournament and earn the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin.
The 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,400 Marines and sailors and is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group. Together, they provide a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of conducting a wide variety of operations ranging from humanitarian aid to combat.