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Iwakuni opens health clinic dedicated to Vietnam War hero

A birthing room at the new health clinic at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

JAMES BOLINGER/STARS AND STRIPES

By JAMES BOLINGER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 1, 2018

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — A health clinic that opened at the largest U.S. Marine base on mainland Japan on Thursday has been named for a hospital corpsman awarded a posthumous Navy Cross for valor during the Vietnam War.

The Robert M. Casey Naval Family Branch Clinic at MCAS Iwakuni honors the corpsman, who rendered aid to members of the 1st Marine Division despite his own wounds on May 16, 1968.

The new facility, funded by the Navy and the Japanese government, took two years to build and was supposed to open late last year, replacing an older clinic.

The opening was delayed by slower-than-expected construction and manning shortages, said Erika Figueroa, a spokeswoman from U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

However, the opening was delayed by slower-than-expected construction and manning shortages, said Erika Figueroa, a spokeswoman for U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka.

The number of medical staff at Iwakuni has slowly increased as the Navy moved squadrons from Carrier Air Wing 5 to the base.

“We wanted to make sure we had the right people in place, and enough manning with civilian and military providers,” Figueroa said. “There will be surgeries performed there, specifically C-sections, so having the right people in place is important.”

The facility is the only one of its type in the Pacific that can deliver babies and provide obstetrical surgeries, Figueroa said. It began providing outpatient care earlier this month and has a 24-hour maternal infant center with six labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum suites that weren’t available at the old clinic. It also has two obstetrical-related surgical suites.

“Enhancing and expanding the services available to our Marines, Sailors, and their families in this state-of-the-art health care facility results directly from Navy Medicine’s commitment to preserve the health and readiness of those entrusted to our care,” said Rear Adm. Paul Pearigen, chief of the Navy Medical Corps.

“While this new facility is certainly impressive, what’s even more impressive is its heart and soul, the dedicated professionals — the hospital corpsmen, the Navy doctors and nurses, and the civilian staff — who embrace the privilege of caring for our service members and their families,” he said.

The clinic will help keep servicemembers at Iwakuni healthy, Cmdr. Jessica Beard, the clinic’s commanding officer, said in the release

“With a rapidly growing population onboard MCAS Iwakuni, we remain focused on delivering the high quality medical services that Navy Medicine is known for,” she said. “The timing for such a facility could not have come soon enough.”

bolinger.james@stripes.com
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The Robert M. Casey Naval Family Branch Clinic at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, honors a corpsman who rendered aid to members of the 1st Marine Division despite suffering from his own wounds during the Vietnam War.
JAMES BOLINGER/STARS AND STRIPES

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