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Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn L. Townes is flanked by Sgt. Maj. Gary D. Moran, left, The Basic School sergeant major and Col. Christian F. Wortman, TBS’ commanding officer, at the ceremony where Towns received his Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist qualification March 9.

Photo by 2nd Lt. Karoline Foote

Corpsmen now eligible for the Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist Device

20 Mar 2015 | nd Lt. Karoline Foote Marine Corps Base Quantico

Corpsmen serving at The Basic School are now eligible to receive the Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist Device.

In a brief at TBS to senior enlisted leadership on March 9, Command Master Chief Tammy R. Heap, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, announced that the Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist Qualification program is now open to Corpsmen at the school.

“It basically means that you’re a different caliber of corpsman,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Shawn L. Townes. “It’s a really big deal.” 

According to OPNAVINST 1414.4C, the EFMFWS insignia is awarded to Navy personnel serving a minimum of 90 consecutive days at either a type duty code 2 or 4 sea duty Fleet Marine Forces command. TBS is a type 2 sea duty because of the large portions of time corpsmen spend in the field with student companies. However, the EFMFWS program has not recognized service at TBS because it is not a traditional sea duty and there were concerns about maintaining the legitimacy of the program.

The decision to open the program came down as a result of a persistent campaign on the part of senior enlisted leadership at The Basic School and the greater Marine Corps. The initiative began with TBS non-commissioned officers and petty officers who pushed it up to the chain of command.

“It just wouldn’t have been possible without the senior enlisted leadership’s involvement,” said Col. Christian F. Wortman, commanding officer of TBS. “Sgt. Maj. Gary D. Moran, TBS Sergeant Major; Sgt. Maj. Gary W. Weiser, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and Sgt. Maj. Michael P. Barrett, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, who worked with the senior enlisted leadership of the Navy and the medical corps of the Navy in particular, they went out of their way to make sure our corpsmen were taken care of. Without their decisive involvement it wouldn’t be possible. That’s the difference that leaders make.”

The EFMFWS insignia program is a significant opportunity for sailors to demonstrate their skills and competency. According to Chief Petty Officer Joel E. Rivera, the senior enlisted leader of Medical Platoon at TBS, allowing corpsmen to distinguish themselves through this program improves their resumes, boosts moral and increases retention. “First thing Marines do is look at your chest,” said Rivera. “They look for that pin.”

Townes, the first TBS corpsman to receive the EFMFWS insignia, passed the final qualification board on March 6.

“I definitely learned a lot about myself, about being a corpsman, about certain aspects of the Marine Corps.”

He is the senior corpsman at TBS and, as a result of time restrictions in the program, he was only allowed three months to complete the rigorous process. Applicants are usually given eighteen months to complete the series of written examinations, practical application tests and boards. Topics covered include Marine Corps history, tactics, medical knowledge, land navigation, communications and weapons systems. Townes attributes his success in part to his fellow sailors and Marines. “There’s been an overwhelming support.”

“Really it comes down to just making sure the sailors are getting taken care of and have the ability to do something of this caliber,” said Rivera.

Townes received his EFMFWS insignia on March 10 at a ceremony at TBS.

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