PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. – Hospitalman Qasim Cunningham, a native of Paterson, 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 Dosimetry Center in Bethesda, Maryland, Cunningham’s skills are vital to maintaining the health of the sailors in the Bethesda 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.”

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Cunningham is a 2017 Passaic County Technical Institute graduate. According to Cunningham, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Paterson.

“I learned that the hardships I experienced produced a strong motivation and desire to improve and be successful with my career,” Cunningham said.

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.

“It's an absolute privilege to be a part of such a highly decorated rate,” Cunningham said. “Being a hospital corpsman means the world to me, it’s given me a sense of pride and achievement.”

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

“As a hospital corpsman during this time, I have experienced a positive impact on how I view myself, and it has given me a purpose to strive to be my best,” Cunningham added.

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