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Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Karen Carter looks at a reading during a class at Camp Kinser. She's near completion for her Fleet Marine Force Enlisted Warfare Badge.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Karen Carter looks at a reading during a class at Camp Kinser. She's near completion for her Fleet Marine Force Enlisted Warfare Badge. (Mark Rankin / S&S)

CAMP KINSER, Okinawa — Sailors stationed with Okinawa’s 3rd Force Service Support Group I are earning the Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist pin at record pace.

Since the qualification process was changed in early 2002, more than 180 sailors have earned the pin, said Petty Officer 2nd Class John Scheller, a qualification instructor.

In the same time period before the changes, 100 sailors qualified for the pin.

The program was modified to include practical applications, classroom and hands-on training with simulated weapons, obstacle courses and navigation using maps and compasses, he said.

“The scenarios helped me familiarize myself with compasses and maps and the obstacle course was grueling,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Karen Carter, a dental technician with Headquarters, 3rd Dental Battalion, who will soon earn her pin.

“I can’t wait to put that pin on my uniform. ... That’s my motivation.”

Earning the pin requires roughly six months to a year of instruction.

Sailors study and train together in simulated battlefield conditions to prove they can perform what they’ve learned in the classroom.

That training involves a Marine obstacle course that sailors run as teams of two, carrying a medical bag to a “wounded” patient.

They treat and transport the patient back for evacuation — all in less than 20 minutes.

During the land navigation portion, sailors are “gassed” by their instructors.

They have nine seconds to get their masks on and then finish the course.

The program is capped with a 150-question written exam culminating with an oral examination from instructors and qualified Fleet Marine Force personnel.

For Chief Petty Officer Aaron Vendall and the other instructors, the pin signifies that sailors are ready for Marine operations, said instructor Chief Petty Officer Aaron Vendall.

“We are preparing them for real-life combat,” said Vandall.

Navy ratings eligible for the Enlisted Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist pin are hospital corpsmen, dental technicians, religious program specialists, disbursing clerks and personnelmen.

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