SLIVEN, Bulgaria --
The sun sits high in the sky over a valley of the Stara Planina mountain chain in Sliven, Bulgaria. On the north side of the solitary soldiers' barracks, is a small pocket of shade where hospital corpsmen sit studiously poring over Marine Corps facts and information in an effort to master basic infantry skills.
Hospital corpsmen with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, took time out of a busy training schedule in the Nova Selo Training Area in Sliven, Bulgaria, to gain knowledge to earn their Fleet Marine Force pin, May 28, 2009.
Warfare pins are Navy tradition. There are typically only two Navy specialties that go with Marines in a combat environment, religious and medical.
"What we do is very unique in the Navy," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Westley W. Gorman, the senior line hospital corpsman with Kilo Co. and a native of Poplar Bluff, Mo. "We've been serving with the Marines for a very long time."
Once the FMF pin is earned, it is pinned above the left breast pocket of the utility blouse and has a very unique design representing what it means to be a Navy hospital corpsman serving with U.S. Marines.
"It's got an Eagle, Globe and Anchor which symbolizes the Marine Corps," said Gorman. "It has the coastal wave that shows that we served on the shores of Tripoli and the sands of Iwo Jima."
The lessons for earning the FMF pin take corpsmen through what Marines learned in recruit training and at the School of Infantry, to include hands on practice and a volume of information packed into a thick, three-hundred page manual.
The Kilo corpsmen spent hours learning about military radios, land navigation, and weapon systems used by Marines.
"The corpsmen that we train with everyday are bettering themselves learning the ways of the men that they go into combat with," said Lance Cpl. Shane T. LeBlanc, a rifleman with Kilo Co. and a native of Baton Rouge, La.
Gorman added that he thinks all corpsmen need a good understanding of how weapons work and operate.
"It shows that they care about their job and the people that they could go into combat with," said LeBlanc. "They want to know everything that we know."
Kilo Co. Marines are in Bulgaria to conduct training at the Nova Selo Training Area, a joint Bulgarian-American training base in Sliven, Bulgaria. This is the first time U.S. Marines have conducted this kind of training in Bulgaria.
The 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit is a scalable, multi-purpose force of more than 2,200 Marines and sailors. Led by Col. Gareth F. Brandl, the 22nd MEU is composed of its Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; and it's Command Element.
The 22nd MEU, deployed aboard the ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, is currently serving as the theater reserve force for U.S. European Command.
For more information on the 22nd MEU, visit the unit's Website at www.lejeune.usmc.mil/22ndmeu.