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Members of team “Magic Stick” hurl themselves over the wall of the obstacle course Sunday. Most of the sailors of the team recently served together in Iraq with the Marine Corps 9th Engineer Support Battalion.

Members of team “Magic Stick” hurl themselves over the wall of the obstacle course Sunday. Most of the sailors of the team recently served together in Iraq with the Marine Corps 9th Engineer Support Battalion. (Megan McCloskey / S&S)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa — Sporting farcical moustaches, one team competing in the Navy Battle Skills competition this week looked decidedly seventies.

They called themselves the “Dukes of Hansen.”

“It’s a unity thing,” Seaman Garett Otfinoski said about his Camp Hansen 3rd Marine Logistics Group team deciding to grow the facial hair.

That kind of camaraderie and sense of team is the essence of Battle Skills, an annual competition designed to test the field and combat skills of Navy corpsmen assigned to Marine units.

“There are superstars out there, but I’d much rather have a team that works together,” Master Chief Petty Officer Yen Duberek said.

Six teams, with names like “Those Guys” and “Silver Bullet,” are competing in the five-day event, which wraps up Thursday and consists of an obstacle course, a combined skills course, a zodiac boat race, a pistol course, a forced march, a land navigation course and a written exam.

Proficiency in those areas is imperative for all corpsmen whose “assignment is with the digital camis,” guest speaker Vice Adm. Donald Arthur said at the opening ceremony.

“Every Marine will know your name and know your face,” the Navy’s surgeon general told the sailors. “They have to. Their lives are depending on you in combat.”

Sailors serving on the green side have to prove themselves to the Marines before they’re completely accepted as a part of the team, Otfinoski said.

“When you’re running with a bunch of Marines, they’ll question you,” he said. “They want to know what you’re made of.”

Competitor Petty Officer 3rd Class Geofrey Redd said it’s a matter of gaining their trust.

“A lot of the younger guys think the trust is automatic, but it’s not,” he said.

Sailors attached to Marine units need to be able to “do what the Marines do, and their corpsman duties,” Chief Petty Officer Bill Nicely said.

The competition covers both. The combined skills course, for example, includes a section on patient assessment and treatment as well as M-16 and 9 mm pistol assembly and disassembly.

“We support the Marines,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Lilyan Marquez of the only female team. “But we’re proud to be sailors.”

View the slideshow

Launch the Battle Skills slideshow to see more photos from the first two days of competition at MCASS Futenma.


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