USS Milwaukee
"Strength and Freedom"
160608-N-UK306-001 JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (June 8, 2016) Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) transits out Naval Station Mayport after a maintenance period. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Schumaker/Released)
Continuing the Hospital Corpsman Legacy onboard LCS

 Hospital Corpsman First Class (SW) Renee Hotchkiss was recently named the Surface Independent Duty Corpsman (IDC) of the Year by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) during the IDC Operational Medicine Symposium.

Hotchkiss currently serves as the IDC for Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Crew 108 aboard USS Milwaukee (LCS 5). As the ship’s only medical care provider, she is singularly responsible for the crew’s health and well-being, requiring her to act as a primary care giver and medical facilitator in absence of a medical officer.

According to Hotchkiss, the training she received as a third class petty officer aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64) was influential in giving her the tools that she now uses to successfully conduct her duties. She attributes her winning the award to the support she has received from her chain of command and mentorship she received as a junior Sailor.

“I owe a great deal of my success to people like Chief Hospital Corpsman (HMC) Kathleen Pierce, HMC Raymond Howard, HMC Louis Bismonte, and Master Chief Edna Torres,” said Hotchkiss. “I could go on and on, really, because just likes it takes a village to raise a child, it took [many people] to mold me into a sailor, a leader and an IDC.”

Though being an IDC is independent in nature, she made it clear that, “you cannot succeed as an IDC without the help of the community as a whole.”

Mentorship may have instilled her with the confidence that she now carries as an IDC but the key to her success goes beyond just being a good corpsman, she is also a valuable watchstander aboard Milwaukee.

LCS class of ships are minimally-manned vessels, meaning their crew size is much smaller than aboard most Navy warships. Hotchkiss stands Junior Officer of the Deck (JOOD) underway and is an integral part of the ship’s 3-section watch rotation. As a JOOD on an LCS, she is one of two bridge watchstanders, requiring her to possess an in-depth understanding of navigation, communications, engineering and shipboard operations. All of this is in addition to her primary job as a medical care provider.

After receiving the IDC of the Year award, Hotchkiss said she feels a great deal of pride in being a part of the hospital corpsman rate.

“I am proud to be a part of the largest and most decorated rate in the Navy, just like every corpsman is, and when I think about the sacrifices that corpsman have made over the last 118 years, it’s hard not to come to work every day and do my part to hold that legacy up,” said Hotchkiss.

“I know the IDC of the Year award could have gone to any one of my counterparts in the IDC community. You can poll any IDC, on any ship, on any waterfront, and I guarantee they are doing just as much and working just as hard. Even when times get tough they still do their job with pride, it's just what we do as IDC's,” she explained

The Navy's Hospital Corps contains more than 30,000 active-duty and reserve Navy hospital corpsmen. Hospital Corpsmen provide medical care to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps worldwide and in a variety of environments, both in peace and during wartime.

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