HM "A" School Chiefs, Students Honor Medal of Honor Recipient

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Story Number: NNS140815-09Release Date: 8/15/2014 2:42:00 PM

By Larry Coffey, Navy Medicine Training Support Center Public Affairs

SAN ANTONIO (NNS) -- Chief petty officers, CPO selects, staff and students from Navy Medicine Training Support Center (NMTSC) joined local veterans' organizations for a graveside memorial service honoring Medal of Honor Recipient Hospitalman John E. Kilmer Aug. 13 at the San Jose Burial Cemetery in San Antonio.

Approximately 50 hospital corpsmen and officers, and 40 veterans and civilian guests gathered 62 years to the day that Kilmer died from injuries sustained the day before when he used his body to shield another man from enemy fire Aug. 12, 1952, during the attack on "Bunker Hill" in Korea.

"The memorial was inspiring and was shared with veterans from most major conflicts, our chief petty officer selectees and our current NMTSC student choir," said Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Melissa Foster, NMTSC command master chief. "This was an opportunity of a lifetime for all of us, especially for our future corpsmen."

Foster said Kilmer, who was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously, has had an impact on her since she first entered the Navy.

"HN (Hospitalman) Kilmer's picture has graced the bulkhead of every MTF (military treatment facility) I have been associated with throughout my career," she said. "As an HN, I remember reading his Medal of Honor citation and thinking how he was so selfless and honorable at such a young age."

The ceremony was put on by several San Antonio area VFW posts and other veterans' organizations with help from the NMETC chief petty officers and Hospital Corps "A" school students. Marine Corps Vietnam veteran John Rodriguez, from VFW Post 9186, has been leading the annual ceremony honoring Kilmer for nine years. He said he brought NMTSC on board to help with the ceremony four years ago because it's important for Hospital Corpsmen to see their heritage.

"I consider corpsmen to be as much a Marine as a Marine is," Rodriquez said of Fleet Marine Force corpsmen. "I want these young Sailors to know how one of their own served and gave his life.Corpsmen don't necessarily carry a rifle, but they save lives and they give their lives. Their service is very important to the nation and to us Marines."

The ceremony included remarks by Rodriguez, the national anthem sung by the NMTSC student choir, an invocation and benediction by the NMTSC chaplain, reading of Kilmer's bio and his Medal of Honor citation, citing of the Hospital Corpsmen Pledge and taps played on a bugle by a local VFW post member.

Rodriguez said 32 Medal of Honor recipients have ties to San Antonio. Of those, only one is from the Korean War and served in the Navy, Kilmer.

"Here we have a guy who was two days shy of his 21st birthday and he gave his life to save others," Rodriguez said. "It's very important to me that that we remember and honor him and never forget what the nation's veterans have done for their country."

NMTSC is an echelon four command reporting to the Navy Medicine Education and Training Command. NMTSC provides administrative and operational control over Navy Medicine staff and students assigned to the Medical Education and Training Campus and San Antonio area medical education programs. NMTSC is part of the Navy Medicine team, a global healthcare network of Navy medical professionals around the world who provide high quality healthcare to eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ships, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

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