For Craig Humes, life is all about about service.
A Navy hospital corpsman 1st class, Humes has deployed around the world with Marine combat units.
Yet these days, he is teaching new sailors and soldiers preventive medicine techniques at the Navy Medicine Training and Support Center in San Antonio Texas.
On his own time, the 37-year-old sailor volunteers, building wheelchair ramps for disabled veterans and others who need them. And he is also preparing to start helping foreign-born refugees who have just arrived in the U.S. to get on their feet to live independently.
“Craig is very humble about all that he does — this is what make him a great leader and volunteer,” said Hospital Corpsman (FMF/IW) 1st Class James Bowes, a co-worker of Humes in San Antonio.
“He is always looking into how he can help others before himself. His example inspires others to want to help and volunteer, which leads to an endless supply of support.”
Based his work both inside and outside the Navy, Humes was named 2018 Navy Times Service Member of the Year, an award he was nominated for by a co-worker.
Bowes says that despite the fact that he and Humes are “polar opposites on many ideas and political issues,” Bowes still finds his friend and co-worker to be an “inspiration” while they often spend time together in friendly conversations.
Humes personally excels at physical fitness and devotes extra time to his students in the morning, organizing and facilitating training activities. He often devotes extra time to those who may need a little more help with improving their fitness score to help ensure their success.
Even his decision to join the Navy was based on the idea of service and helping others, starting with his family in his hometown of Georgetown, South Carolina.
“I was 19 when I joined the Navy,” Humes recalled in an interview with Navy Times.
“I wanted to go to school without having the burden placed on my parents to pay for it and the Navy recruiter told me I could get an education while on active duty -- this meant my parents could concentrate on helping my siblings.”
“Also, I wanted to help people, more specifically I wanted to be a hospital corpsman because that would give me the opportunity to do just that that.”
During his first tour at the Portsmouth, Va. Naval Medical Center, Humes began to hear some of his enlisted leaders talk about serving with the Marines on what the corpsmen call the “green side” of their community.
Many corpsmen love serving with the Marines because of how the Corps reveres the sailors charged with patching them up on the battlefield while also caring for their day-to-day health.
“Based on their encouragement, I decided to go to the green side and I’ve never looked back,” he said.
During his 18-years of service, he’s spent three tours with the Marines. Between those assignments, he has served tours at naval hospitals and clinics before arriving at his current schoolhouse to train the next generation of hospital corpsmen.
But even his shore duty had deployments. Twice, while assigned to shore duty medical commands, he went overseas as an individual augmentee to Bahrain and Kuwait.
His first tour with the Marines was with the 3rd Medical Battalion of the 3rd Marine Logistics Group in Okinawa, Japan, in 2003.
“I trained vigorously with the Marines on that first assignment and that was the foundation for me,” he said.
“Being out in the field with them in the jungles as they were training, my job was to ensure they were protected from the environment and didn’t get heat stroke, exhaustion or cramps.”
He followed up that tour with another Marine Corps tour with the First Marine Division’s 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines. Normally an artillery unit, Humes checked into that unit as they prepared for deployment in 2004 as military police doing base security at Camp Ramadi, Iraq.
“It was still at the beginning of the intense battle over there and we had to make sure that the Marines in our care were ready and stayed mentally and physically ready,” Humes said.
“Our training for deployment set us up for success, but getting into Iraq and having boots on the ground kind of puts everything into perspective -- going to war is never fun and never easy, truthfully. We had to be each other’s keepers.”
His service with the Marines, taught him that physical fitness is paramount for a Fleet Marine Force corpsmen and according to Bowes, he not only excels at that, but passes his knowledge on to others, too.
“He personally excels at physical fitness and devotes extra time to students in the morning, organizing and facilitate training activities,” Bowes said.
With 18-years in the Navy, Humes hopes to soon put on the anchors of a chief petty officer. And he would also love to return to the Marine Corps for more tours.
Beyond that, he’s also pushing to finish a bachelors degree in psychology from Liberty University.
And even when he retires from the Navy, he’s still got service on his mind.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.