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By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO – Hospitalman Melodie Abell, a native of California, Maryland, is playing a critical role in the U.S. Navy’s efforts to maintain a healthy and ready fighting force in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

As a hospital corpsman working at Naval Medical Center San Diego, Abell’s skills are vital to maintaining the health of the sailors in the San Diego area, and by extension, the readiness of the Navy’s operational ships and submarines on which they serve.

“The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic brought an invisible enemy to our shores and changed the way we operate as a Navy,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. “The fight against this virus is a tough one, but our sailors are tougher. We must harden our Navy by continuing to focus on the health and safety of our forces and our families. The health and safety of our sailors and their families is, and must continue to be, our number one priority.”

Abell is a 2019 James Clemens High School graduate. According to Abell, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in California.

“Facing adversity and so much change while growing at home, I learned rather quickly to accept change,” Abell said. “With the Navy’s every changing circumstances, especially with the changes in working as medical personnel during a pandemic, I feel that I was definitely better prepared for everything to start changing so rapidly.”

U.S. Navy Medicine is the most decorated career field in the Navy. Navy Hospital Corpsmen have earned 22 Medals of Honor, 179 Navy Crosses, 959 Silver Stars and more than 1,600 Bronze Stars. Twenty ships have been named in honor of corpsmen.

In its century of service, the U.S. Navy Hospital Corps has supported millions of sailors and Marines in wartime and peace around the world. As the years have progressed, technological innovations are transforming medical training for the next generation of hospital corpsmen, according to Navy officials.

“I’m proud of the fact that when people ask me what I do for a living, I can not only tell them I’m in the Navy, but as I serve as a corpsman,” Abell said. “I get to say that I am not only a part of the only enlisted corps in the military, but also the most decorated. I take great privilege in being able to continue the legacy set before me by those so honorable.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Abell, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition that dates back centuries. Their efforts, especially during this time of challenge brought on by the Coronavirus, will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who provide the Navy the nation needs.

“Coming from a family of Marines, I always admired those who served,” Abell added. “Working at MCRD, I’m forever proud that I am a part of the important stepping stone in getting medically ready Marines to the fleet. It’s especially important in the midst of a pandemic when it’s critical to maintain the military’s mission readiness.”