Commander, Submarine Group Two

Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS) Retroyreo Conner holds theĀ 
IDC of the year for 2012 statue. Conner had won the award
earlier in the year, but was later presented the award in
October due to the submarine's deployment schedule.
Photo courtesy of HMC Conner.

USS New Mexico Sailor Receives IDC of the Year Award

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- An Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) aboard the Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) was recognized as the Submarine Independent Duty Corpsman of the Year for 2012 at a command awards ceremony in Groton.

Chief Hospital Corpsman (SS) Retroyreo Conner was named IDC of the year for 2012 earlier this year, but was later presented the award in October due to the submarine's underway schedule.

"It was a total surprise I can honestly say that," said Conner. "I have a great crew and I can say that I received this recognition based on their stellar performance and support of me."

The IDC of the year award is also presented to a surface and shore IDC annually. Last year, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SS) Aaron P. McKnight, who was assigned to USS Toledo (SSN 769), was the recipient of the award, which is presented annually to enlisted medical professionals who have significantly contributed to the combat readiness and overall health of Sailors aboard submarines.

"Chief Conner's dedication to the health and well-being of the New Mexico crew, his constant drive to help those around him achieve success, and his positive, infectious attitude makes him an inspiration to every Sailor onboard. He is, without a doubt, one of the finest Sailors I have ever had the privilege of serving with in my 26-year career," said Cmdr. George Perez, commanding officer, USS New Mexico.

Conner, who has served in the Navy for 14 years, said his tour aboard New Mexico marked his first IDC tour and first submarine. During his three-year tour Conner said one of his highlights was learning and qualifying to pilot the submarine.

"Serving as the IDC for the past three years has been career enhancing for me personally because you are truly an independent duty corpsman when the submarine is at sea," said Conner. "You are the sole provider for your crew and assisting with their medical needs allows me to keep sharp on my medical knowledge mainly because every medical case isn't always the same."

In addition to receiving IDC of the Year, Conner was also pinned chief petty officer in September.

"This award and my performance aboard USS New Mexico definitely contributed to [my] pinning on chief petty officer this year," said Conner.

In order to qualify as an independent duty corpsman, IDCs attend 18-months of training at both Naval Undersea Medical Institute and Naval Submarine School. To qualify as an IDC, Conner took a variety of training at NUMI consisting of clinical patient care, laboratory, pharmacy and general preventative medicine.