Riverview native Grace Council is a hospitalman working at Navy Medical Readiness Training Command Sigonella in Sigonella, Italy.

By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Hospitalman Grace Council, a native of Riverview, 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 hospitalman working at Navy Medical Readiness Training Command Sigonella in Sigonella, Italy, Council’s skills are vital to maintaining the health of the Sailors in the Sigonella 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.”

Council is a 2018 T. R. Robinson High School graduate. According to Council, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Riverview.

“I learned compassion and respect, qualities especially relevant during this age of coronavirus when there is much uncertainty, fear and distrust of others,” Council said. “I am always conscious of the stress that this pandemic can put on others and keep those things in mind as I navigate through our new normal.”

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. 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.

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

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