By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Curtis, a native of Milaca, Minnesota, 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 Health Clinic Patuxent River in Patuxent River, Maryland, Curtis’ skills are vital to maintaining the health of the sailors in the Patuxent River 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 are, and must continue to be our number one priority.”

Curtis is a 2013 Milaca Public High School graduate According to Curtis, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Milaca.

“Wrestling for Milaca Public High School taught me a hard work ethic and skills to succeed,” Curtis said. “I’m thankful for the teachers and leaders that I’ve had.”

The U.S. Navy Hospital Corps is the most decorated career field in the Navy. Corpsmen have earned 22 Medals of Honor, 179 Navy Crosses, 959 Silver Stars, and more than 1,600 Bronze Stars. 20 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.

“It’s an amazing Navy experience to be part of the Navy Hospital Corps,” Curtis said. “It’s made me grow as an individual and leader.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Curtis, 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.

“It makes me proud to be part of such a great corps and to lead the fight for our sister services to follow, as we fight to defeat this national crisis,” Curtis added.