SBT-22 News Releases


SWCC Named NSW SOCM of the Year


By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robyn Gerstenslager, Naval Special Warfare Group 4 Public Affairs

TAMPA, Fla. (NNS) -- The Special Operations Medical Association named Special Warfare Boat Operator 2nd Class John Cowgar of Naval Special Warfare Group 4 as the Naval Special Warfare Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) of the year Dec. 17, 2008, at a ceremony in Tampa, Fla.
 Cowgar was up against more than 100 other SEAL and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) SOCMs within Naval Special Warfare Command.
 "He's an excellent example of a SOCM in Naval Special Warfare," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Rickie Fry, NSWG-4's medical department leading chief petty officer. "He has excellent medical and leadership skills that he has proved in combat."
 To become a SOCM within the SWCC community a special boat operator must stand out during SWCC school and be recommended for the program by an instructor.
 Upon graduation he will transfer to the medical department at Special Boat Team 12 in Coronado, Calif., to complete mandatory online training modules.
 The final, and most challenging, step to becoming a SOCM is six months of intensive training at the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center in Fort Bragg, N.C.
 The training will teach him to perform a variety of life-saving skills in an austere environment, with a focus on trauma skills. A SOCM may be called upon to administer Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), intubation, chest tube thoracostomy or venous cut downs.
 Cowgar said that he has always been interested in the medical field, and that becoming a SOCM gave him an opportunity to explore those interests as well as gain the skills to save his fellow teammates' lives if called upon.
 He put those skills to the test in 2006 while deployed to Iraq with a Riverine Troop (RT) from Special Boat Team 22; during a mission the RT was ambushed by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and small arms fire.
 Cowgar was injured during the attack, but aggressively engaged the enemy until the troop was out of the contact area. He ignored his own injuries and tended to a teammate with severe shrapnel wounds.
 His selfless efforts earned him the Bronze Star with a V for Valor March 10, 2008.
 "My training has benefitted me every day," said Cowgar. "Since becoming a SOCM I have been given the chance to help others on a regular basis."
 Since reporting to the NSWG-4 medical department in April 2008 Cowgar has taken the SOCM program within the special boat team community under his wing. He created a tracking program to stay current on the number of SOCMs at each team and at the schoolhouse.
 After a SWCC receives his SOCM certification, Cowgar ensures that each one maintains his credentials by tracking individual re-certification dates. Cowgar also developed a sustainment program for all SWCC medics.
 "I created the sustainment program to further enhance and sharpen the skills of a SOCM, enabling them to better treat their teammates," said Cowgar. "So far it's working very well. It has provided an avenue for learning which has increased our medical readiness across the board."
 The sustainment program contains individual training modules that are taught at each boat team. The modules are made up of Tactical Medical Emergency Protocols (TMEP) that every SOCM is required to know, said Cowgar.
 "My number one goal is to increase the number of qualified SOCMs throughout the boat teams, and to further build camaraderie through the SOCM community by introducing a SOCM challenge," said Cowgar.
 The SOCM challenge is still in the works, but he plans to create a competition that will test the skills of the SOCMs.
 Already Cowgar's efforts have lead to an increase in SWCC SOCM manpower. Since the implementation of his sustainment program SOCM numbers within the special boat team community have increased.
 As the assistant command fitness leader, Cowgar leads numerous and individual physical fitness (PT) sessions. He also implemented the remedial PT program to prepare NSWG-4 Sailors for the semi-annual physical fitness assessment.
 "He just does the job without me even asking," said Fry. "I can just give him tasks and know that it's done."
 Cowgar is very humbled by his selection as SOCM of the year.
 "Representing WARCOM as SOCM of the year is a great honor, it's an honor that not only comes with great recognition but also great responsibility," said Cowgar. "But I did not earn it on my own; superb leadership, support from my commands and outstanding teammates were key contributions to my selection."
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