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Navy's fleet hospital to deploy from Bremerton

Capt. Patrick Kelly, Fleet Hospital Bremerton’s commanding officer, oversees his troops before the recent FHB Casualty Exercise (CASEX) held at Naval Hospital Bremerton.  - Photo by JO1 Stacey Moore
Capt. Patrick Kelly, Fleet Hospital Bremerton’s commanding officer, oversees his troops before the recent FHB Casualty Exercise (CASEX) held at Naval Hospital Bremerton.
— image credit: Photo by JO1 Stacey Moore

Fleet Hospital Bremerton, the contingency arm of Naval Hospital Bremerton, participated in a casualty exercise Jan. 30. During a fast-paced rainy afternoon the men and women who make up FHB worked with renewed focus as they processed the 40 men and women “casualties” who passed through the door of the fleet hospital training set.

Their increased zeal that Thursday was the result of heightened rumors. Rumors that became a reality Monday morning when Capt. Christine Hunter, commanding officer of Naval Hospital Bremerton, called all hospital’s staff to attend one of eight back-to-back briefings announcing that Fleet Hospital Bremerton had received deployment orders to support Operation Enduring Freedom and future Middle East operations.

Many facts still cannot be told; where they will go, when will they go, and how long will the deployment last, but into this world of unknowns physicians, nurses, corpsmen and administrative support staff go willingly – relieved to finally get the call to action.

“Not knowing the particulars is not important to me,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Eusebio Bawden. “My main question was answered — we’re going. Our leadership will give us what we need to know to do our mission. It’s kind of a relief now that we know we’re going. Now I can start planning.”

Bawden, who has been a corpsman for four years, said the deployment order was OK by him.

“Here’s the opportunity that I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been training for it, and now I just have to go out and grab it. But I also have to be realistic. There are some things in my life that will have to be put on hold.”

One of the things that may be put on hold is a planned June wedding to fiance’ Hospitalman Courtenay Vincent.

But Bawden is philosophical.

“In the end, things will fall into place,” he said. In the meantime the mission calls according to Bawden.

“That’s the most satisfying feeling anyone can have. That my fellow corpsmen and me can be there to support and provide coverage to our fellow Marines, who are actually in the heat of things, and to help them win the war. That will be the ultimate outcome. We won’t accept anything less. With the Marines there, and the corpsmen providing support, we will have all the pieces together. Then there’s no holding us back,” Bawden said.

According to Fleet Hospital Bremerton Commanding Officer Capt. Patrick Kelly, the fleet hospital has conducted over 25,000 hours of training since becoming the “Tier One” fleet hospital in March 2002 in anticipation they may be called to support this tri-service effort.

“I have complete confidence in this crew,” Kelly said. “We are trained, we are ready and we are proud to be called to support this mission.”

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