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First-Hand Account – corpsman

USS Solace

USS Solace

James F. Anderson

Hospital corpsman, USS Solace

James Anderson of Fort Worth, Texas was aboard the USS Solace looking out across the bay on 7 December as he awaited a liberty boat to take him to shore as 5 planes flew overhead.  He spotted the red balls on the wings, “My God, those are Japanese.  Let’s get this damn hatch shut!, he said.  “Normally it took an electric winch to pull it shut.  How 3 of us did it I’ll never know.”

“I remember very clearly what looked like a dive-bomber coming in over the Arizona and dropping a bomb.  It rose out of the water and settled.  I could see flames, fire and smoke…and I saw 2 men flying in the air…and screaming as they went.  Then we went into the ward and checked everything and made ready for patients to arrive.  Four of us set to with plaster-of-Paris.

Japanese view

Japanese view

“At this point, the Japanese planes were coming in alongside us… We could look straight into the cockpits and see the pilots as they went by us.  Almost immediately we started getting casualties…only one of the men could tell us his name.  He did not have a stitch of clothing on.  The only thing left was a web belt with his chief’s buckle, his Chief-master-at-arms badge and the letters ‘USS Nevada.’  He survived…

Surgery aboard ship

Surgery aboard ship

“We were using tannic acid for the burns… All we could do for these poor fellows was to give them morphine and pour the tannic acid over them.  We were making it from tea, boiling it up as strong as we could get it and bringing it straight to the ward from the galley.

“I think we must have gone through 48 hours without any sleep – all spent tending to our patients.  There was so much adrenalin pumped into the body, a person couldn’t sleep… I got to the point I was staggering around… Nobody ever thought of asking for relief.”

Patient ward aboard ship

Patient ward aboard ship

James Anderson made his career as an enlisted man and continued his service until his retirement in 1960 when he returned to Texas.

This story was taken and condensed from, “The Pacific War Remembered” edited by John T. Mason Jr. and published by the Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD.  Photos are courtesy of the USS Solace website.

TO SEE WHAT THESE MEN ACTUALLY WITNESSED – Fellow blogger, Koji was kind enough to send a link for us to do just that – watch the short video from –  the Naval History $ Heritage

Click on images to enlarge.

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Humor – 

Bill Mauldin cartoons

Bill Mauldin cartoons

Just give me the aspirin, I already got the Purple Heart.

Just give me the aspirin, I already got the Purple Heart.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Bailey – Jupiter, FL; US Army,  WWII & Korea, Major (Ret. 25 years)

Irene Brainerd – Prairie Village, MO; US Army WACS, WWII, Quartermaster Corps

Harvey A. Chesley, Sr. – Clinton, ME; USMC, Vietnam

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Gordon Conquergood – Toronto, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Richard Haas – Freeport, IL; US Army, Korea

Kenneth Irving Sr. – Clinton, ME; USMC, Korea

Michael Martin – Palm Bch Gardens, FL; US Army, WWII

Theodore Perry – Petaluma, CA; US Army, Rangers, Sgt.

Mark Priestly – Masterton, NZ; RNZ Navy # E746216

Fred Schrager – Brooklyn & Miami; US Army, WWII, POW, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Charles (Bud) Willis – Bastrop, LA; US Army, Vietnam

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Eroni Kumana – Obituary

One of the Solomon Islands scouts who assisted in the rescue of the PT-109 crew passed away exactly 71 years after JFK’s boat was rammed while in the Pacific.  Mr. Kumana was 96 years old.  Kumana and fellow scout Biuku Gasa had discovered the Naval crew on Naru and Olasana islands.

Eroni Kumana

Eroni Kumana

A more complete story of this event will be posted when this series reaches August 1943.

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Intermission Stories (15)

Earl Hufford in Korea

Earl Hufford in Korea

Private First Class, Earl R. Hufford

11th Evacuation Hospital, Medical Corps, Korea

Earl R. Hufford hailed from Perrysburg, Ohio.  He went to Bowling Green State University and received his preacher’s license for the Methodist church after high school and then found himself drafted into the U.S. Army destined for Korea.  The following article is condensed from an interview he gave the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project.

At one point, he was sent to a MASH unit:  “If you ever watch M*A*S*H* on television, that’s the way it is.”  Earl’s aptitude for things medical landed him in a series of courses and even learned how to do autopsies.  We even had a Klinger.”   Earl R. Hufford was a medic.

Earl Hufford w/ the 11th Evac hospital

Earl Hufford w/ the 11th Evac hospital

It took several days to get to Korea aboard ship.  He had a tendency to become so seasick, he buddies would bring him fruit to eat.  He would then have to be tied in to stand his guard  or he’d fall overboard.  At first, he was sent to Inchon, but the army still wasn’t quite certain what to do with him; they made him a chaplain’s assistant and he started a newspaper for the 11th Evac. hospital.

After Inchon, he was sent to Wonju along with the rest of the 11th and even ran the first dialysis machine invented (the other one was in Germany).  “I felt bad for the — real bad for the wounded and I felt bad for their families.   But I just did my job and I thought I did it pretty good.  You have to move on to the next person…there’s no time for sentiment…I always said a prayer for them.”

Hufford (on right) w/ friend at the the 11th

Hufford (on right) w/ friend at the the 11th

The 11th Evacuation hospital also went North and took care of the North Korean wounded because they had no facilities, the wounded were left to die.  They even built them a hospital, but they didn’t return the favor.  Hufford spoke of having to remove their Red Cross sign because it made them too much of a target for the enemy.

 There were a lot of hemorrhagic fever patients to take care of too. (the fever, caused by rats, makes a person bleed internally).  “I felt very fortunate on saving those boy’s lives.  We had a lot of rats.

a later photo of Earl Hufford

a later photo of Earl Hufford

After 15 months, Earl Hufford returned home.  “And it was wonderful to see the Golden Gate Bridge.  But, I’m not sorry that I was there, because I’d do it all over again.

The final line of his interview stated, “I dedicate this tape to all the veterans and servicemen and women in service today and may God bless them all.

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Farewell Salutes – 

A Farewell Salute

A Farewell Salute

Clarence Anderson – Ogden, Iowa; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt. Col. (Ret.)

Maurice Archer – Greenbay, VA; US Army, WWII

John Debalek, Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 745th Tank Battalion/1st Infantry Division

Larry DeCelles – Kansas City & Phoenix, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Dennis Gavin – Wanganui, NZ; RNZ Navy # C/SSX16068, WWII, ETO

John Hogel – Sultan, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Fred Moss – Holiday Island, AR; USMC, WWII

Dante Romano – Sun City W., AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John Spinella – W.Palm Beach, FL; US Army, Vietnam

John Towers – Oak Brook, IL; US Air Force, Korea

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Intermission Stories (7)

Harold Selley receiving his Bronze Star

Harold Selley receiving his Bronze Star

Medic, Harold Selley

Harold Selley was in the Medical Company of the 7th Cavalry Regiment from the time time he arrived in Korea, July 1950.  He would remain there for 11 months as a medic in a Forward Collecting Station.

Selley related in an interview,” Several times my collecting station was surrounded by the enemy and we were unable to get our wounded to the rear.  Most of the time, we medics provided our own perimeter security for the station.  That meant we took turns in staying in foxholes guarding our station.  Usually we were far enough to the rear of the actual small arms fire that we could operate the station without the enemy invading the area.  Since we received wounded from the entire regiment, we saw practically everyone who was wounded in the entire regiment.”

A medical HQ in Korea

A medical HQ in Korea

Selley was the main person who saw that the proper tag was given to each casualty.  The tag was for identification, brief explanation of the injuries and a record for the regiment.  Such records were essential for future medals, disability pensions, statistics, Army files and family information.

Emphasis was on teamwork. “All of us medics in the station were part of a team,” he said.  “We knew what to do when a wounded man was sent to us.  Often I performed emergency treatment and procedures that the assigned doctor in our station could not do.  He was too busy to do it all.  We had to pitch in and do everything we could.  Often the doctor went from one casualty to another giving advice to the medic as to what should be done.

Medics Crit Nash, Harry Kane & Harold Selley in Korea

Medics Crit Nash, Harry Kane & Harold Selley in Korea

“The doctor knew the medic’s capabilities.  This is not meant to be arrogant in nature.  It simply means that we medics treated so many casualties (hundreds) that we became rather proficient.  We performed emergency amputations, treated spinal injuries, worked on *pneumothoraxes, did emergency repairs on fractured bones, stopped bleeding, removed shrapnel and attended to shock (most were in shock!).

” Many died before we could get them evacuated to the rear.  Dead and wounded were all around us daily.  Often we went without sleep during a heavy fighting.  I went without sleep for 4 days once, working continuously on wounded.”  Selley knew of course that the infantrymen in the frontline battles also went long periods without sleep – for days on end!

“My medical company lost several aid stations, including the doctors and medical personnel.  We were always in danger of being attacked by the enemy.  The medics assigned to the aid stations in the battalions knew their life expectancy was short.  Memory of these men should always heralded as valor and total allegiance to the fighting men, Army and United States.”

doctor and medic w/ wounded soldier

doctor and medic w/ wounded soldier

For Selley, the memories of being under artillery fire, strafed by planes several times and close to small arms fire will always be remembered.  But for him, the most memorable thoughts are the wounded.  “I saw about every possible injury that could happen.  I got to the point that no injury was too tough to handle, that is, too tough to examine or treat.  But, when the wounded died in my hands, that is when I realized I was so inadequate in helping someone.  I was drenched in blood most of the time.  I tried with all my being to help people live, and when they died, I felt so helpless.  I didn’t have time to feel sad or even weep over them.  That came later, much later, after I returned from Korea – and still to this day.”

Selley returned to his home and college only to find the younger students did not share his thoughts on America.  They had not been through a war and were conditioned to be isolated from the unpleasantries of life.  The final line of his story reads  – “Let us not make this a forgotten war!”____Harold Selley 2001

*pneumothoraxes: an abnormal collection of air in the area between the lung and chest wall; usually caused by blunt force trauma during combat.

This story was taken and condensed from HERE>

This site is large enough and interesting enough to get lost in for days – enjoy!

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Farewell Salutes –

Alwyn Berland – Toronto, Canada & Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

George Allen – Bethesda, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO

U.S. Navy emblem

U.S. Navy emblem

Leonard Coleman – Delray Beach, FL; US Army, WWII

Walter “Mick” Hocker – Portland, ME; US Navy, Capt. (Ret.)

Colin G. Mitchel – New Zealand; Australian Imperial Force, WWII # 120010, Cpl., Sig. 35th Infantry Battalion

Raymond Monte – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

William Ridenour – Wilshire, OH & Lake Worth, FL; US Navy, WWII

James Skene – Fairview, TX; US Navy, Korea

Edward K. Steffen – Ahwatukee, AZ; US Navy, Vietnam

Andrew A. Turner – Auckland, NZ; Regt. # 596141v, SA Air Force

Nicholas Vitucci – Riverhead, NY; US Navy, SeaBee

Richard J. Watkins – Papatoetoe, NZ; RAF # 4078049, Korea

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