Photo Information

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. – A safety vehicle with the Combat Logistics Battalion 453, Combat Logistics Regiment 4, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, sits ready to transport Marines to the battalion aid station during Integrated Training Exercise 4-17 in Twentynine Palms, California on June 21, 2017. The corpsmen of CLB-453 provided medical care for 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, MARFORRES, helping to decrease the risk of heat casualties during the final battalion exercise of ITX 4-17.

Photo by Pfc. Melany Vasquez

Corpsmen battle the heat during Integrated Training Exercise 4-17

3 Jul 2017 | Cpl. Dallas Johnson Marine Corps Forces Reserves

As temperatures soar to well over 100 degrees, U.S. Navy medical personnel and Marines from units across the Marine Corps Reserve battled record high temperatures and the daily threat of heat related injuries during Integrated Training Exercise 4-17 on Marine Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, from June 8-July 7, 2017.

ITX 4-17 is the largest Marine Corps Reserve training exercise of the year with Marines from over 20 different units coming together to form Marine Air Ground Task Force 23 to prepare two infantry battalions, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve and 2/24, 4th MARDIV, MARFORRES, as well as supporting units to seamlessly integrate with active duty counterparts in the event of a crisis that requires a rapid response.

The corpsmen attached to Camp Wilson had the primary job of maintaining the health, safety and well-being of all the service members training at ITX 4-17. The realistic training of ITX also gave U.S. Navy corpsmen, doctors and surgeons the opportunity to provide real world care in an environment that imitates real combat. 

“We're primarily here to support 2/24 and 2/25,” said Chief Petty Officer Daniel Rios, the lead chief petty officer of the regimental aid station on Camp Wilson. “As they go forward to their ranges, we observe from a short distance and let the Reserve component go ahead and attack their objective.”

Acclimatization was difficult for many Marines who came from areas with cooler climates, but the doctors and corpsmen of MAGTF 23 took every measure possible to help their bodies adjust and keep them from overheating.

“At Twentynine Palms, the weather is particularly austere,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Park, the assistant regimental surgeon with 4th Marine Logistics Group. “As everyone knows, it's a very hot environment. So, first and foremost, we're constantly reminding the Marines to stay hydrated and to eat.” 

To maintain their constant readiness, medical teams participated in numerous drills; including heat exposure training, intra-veinous training and medivac training.

“The Marines are going to be bugged by us,” said Rios. “We're making sure they always have a full canteen and drinking it, and always making sure they're eating. And the most important thing we do as corpsmen is talking with every Marine one-on-one so we know how they're doing.”

ITX 4-17 was the first iteration of ITX where active duty corpsmen and doctors integrated with Reserve Sailors organic to the units who participated. Of the 66 total medical staff participating in the exercise, 31 came from active duty. The unique aspect of this type of augmentation is that if 2/24 and 2/25 mobilize during fiscal year 2018, the same active duty medical staff who augmented ITX 4-17 would again join their reserve counterparts.

“We got a number of very knowledgeable active duty corpsmen with a lot of combat and Fleet Marine Force experience,” said Cmdr. Luis Bautista, the regimental surgeon for 23rd Marines. “These corpsmen have been helping and teaching the reservists so much about their ratings.”

Sailors further increased proficiency by getting their Fleet Marine Force pin; three military badges of the United States Navy which are issued to those U.S. Navy officers and sailors who are trained and qualified to perform duties in support of the United States Marine Corps.

“While here, the corpsmen are taking a number of classes,” said Bautista. “They're learning the history and organization of the Marine Corps, as well as taking practical applications like land navigation and knowing the weapon systems. We have a number of sailors who are going to be taking the test very soon.”

As ITX 4-17 , doctors, corpsmen, and all medical staff who participated in this year’s iteration of the exercise will leave with the knowledge and training necessary to keep Marines in the fight in the most sweltering environments all times.