MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- With hundreds of Marines gearing up for a return to Iraq, the medical personnel for the 1st Marine Logistics Group's headquarters element, Brigade Service Support Group 1, have learned what it takes to handle achieving deployment readiness for themselves and those under their care.
With more than half of BSSG 1's group aid station (or GAS) deploying to Iraq, the corpsmen have been coping double duty, said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael V. Tabura, 27, the assistant lead chief petty officer for the clinic. The staff has been dealing with day-to-day medical situations in addition to achieving the total medical readiness of the unit before departure.
"We've been preparing for the worst," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Kyle D. Whiteman, a corpsman with the clinic, which falls under Brigade Service Support Group 1. "We're losing a lot of our corpsman and a lot of our materials (to Iraq.)"
Tabura and the sailors who work with him take care of the medical needs for all personnel of the 1st MLG, whose mission focuses on the overall supply, support and medical care of the Camp Pendleton-based I Marine Expeditionary Force.
The GAS will lose approximately 17 corpsmen to various 1st MLG units, Tabura said. A staff of 15 sailors will stay behind to handle the increased duties, a task they have gradually been assimilated to.
One key challenge on the staff of the GAS is the presence of only one medical officer to handle the needs of the approximately 8,000 Marines and sailors of 1st MLG, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriela M. McNamara, a corpsman for 1st MLG.
It has been difficult, she explained, due to the fact that all medical deployment paperwork has to be screened and signed by that sole provider, in addition to the physicals, preventive health assessments and daily sick call he handles.
For Tabura, the clinic's ability to overcome this situation merely shows the quality of sailors he is allowed to serve with.
"I have a real good bunch of sailors that I work with," he said, as he motioned to the hub of activity behind him. "We are a good team here. We will carry out the mission and get things done."
With this rotation, the unit has known of the pending deployment for some time, Tabura said, which allowed for his corpsmen to experience more training and be better prepared.
Over the last several months, Tabura sent his corpsmen to such courses as the one-week Combat Trauma Management course, along with the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course. Additionally, the sailors have received training in convoy operations, rear area security and advanced trauma care.
"It has been an ongoing process of having my sailors getting turnover training conducted," Tabura said, referring to the transition from full staffing to partial staffing.
Whatever deployment training the Marines have been going through, the corpsmen have been there with them every step of the way, McNamara said.
Tabura added that his corpsmen have been conducting various medical training for the deploying Marines, such as combat stress classes and instruction on the new field medical kit.
In the end, Whiteman said, there will be "longer hours, a little more stress, but it's just another day on the job. This is what I signed up for."
To contact the GAS, call 760-725-6180.