2 of all 2012 issues.
If you have any back issues you would like to donate, please contact our Executive Director Jim Dolbow at email@example.com to make arrangements to gift them to the Library or feel free to leave a comment.
Please remember all gifts of back issues are tax deductible. Thank you.
As part of your Society’s efforts to preserve and protect navy medicine history, we recently donated 3 navy hospital ship cruise books and 1 non-fiction book to the Navy Department Library.
Founded in 1800 by direction of President John Adams, the Navy Department Library is one of the oldest federal government libraries. Its 150,000 volumes are the nation’s most highly concentrated and accessible collections of literature on the United States Navy.
The SANCTUARY’S and COMFORT’s cruise books filled holes in the Navy Department Library’s cruise book collection.
Thanks to our generous donors that made these gifts possible. If you would like to support our program to acquire navy hospital ship books and epherma like Christmas dinner menus for the Navy Department Library, please click here.
The Society for the History Of Navy Medicine is pleased to announce that it has partnered with the Naval Institute Press to underwrite the conversion of the following Navy Medicine History books (many out of print) into eBooks:
Battle Station Sick Bay: Navy Medicine in World War II by Jan K. Herman
Navy Medicine Under Sail by Zachary B. Friedenberg
Ruff’s War: A Navy Nurse on the Frontline in Iraq by CDR Cheryl Lynne Ruff, USN (Ret.) and CDR K. Sue Rope, USN (Ret.)
Ship’s Doctor by CAPT Terrence Riley, Medical Corps, USN
Station Hospital Saigon: A Navy Nurse in Vietnam 1963-1964 by LCDR Bobbi Hovis, NC, USN (Ret.)
What a Way to Spend the War: Navy Nurse POWs in the Philippines by Dorothy Still Danner
The good news is that we have the money to convert these books into eBooks to reach a new generations of readers. The BAD news is that it is in your pockets!
Please consider a gift today to our Society in order to convert these fabulous books into eBooks. All gifts to our Society are 100% tax deductible. Not a penny will be spent on overhead either!
Once you and I have reached our goal of $3,000, our Society will issue a check to the Naval Institute to begin converting these titles into eBooks. This is a win win for both our Society and the Naval Institute! Be sure to forward this post to friends of navy medicine history. Thank you!
With a shrill call of the bos’n's pipe, a Naval officer is “piped over the side” – and departs.
Thus, it’s “Captain, U S Navy, departing” the Society for the History of Navy Medicine. I leave the Society in good hands. I look forward to its growing and flourishing under Jim Dolbow’s leadership.
Six years ago, I launched the Society for the History of Navy Medicine at the prompting of Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery historian André Sobocinski. André’s enthusiastic support and guidance helped make the early navigation sure.
Three years later, in February 2010, I floated this blog as a means of promoting the Society and garnering it attention in a larger world. Given the narrow confines of our little corner of the world of history, I think the blog has done well: 155 posts, more than 31,575 views, and 12 –>18 –> 40+ average views a day. In fact, when you consider that the typical academic journal article – I read somewhere – gets an average of 3 readers total, we’ve done very well indeed!
But, come 25 April, the conn and the helm of this enterprise will pass to a new, young, energetic Executive Director, Jim Dolbow. Jim will introduce himself here and on the Society website in the near future.
It’s been a wonderful cruise!
The Society has grown to around 170 members from around the world. We’ve mounted academic panels – thanks both to enthusiastic writers and a wonderful panel of academics who’ve served as our Papers Selection Board* – at annual meetings of the American Association for the History of Medicine (of which the Society is a “Constituent Society”), the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) and the biennial Naval Academy McMullen History Symposium. We founded a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity to receive our members’ voluntary dues. We use this money to fund a Graduate / Professional Student Travel Grant Program that pays students $750 to give papers that are accepted at our panels. Last year, we initiated a Graduate Student Research Grant Program† that will annually provide up to $1500 in support for research in the area of the history of navy or maritime medicine.
As for the blog, when I go back over those 155 postings, I think some of them are actually pretty darned good! One interesting thing, though: my “opinion pieces”, which are simply that – opinion – typically have gotten twice to thrice the readership of the “historical” ones – those that I really labored over, performing decent research and providing proper footnoting. I don’t know if this says more about our readership, or about my historical writing! In any case, I come away from the blogging endeavor with a high respect for those professional writers who have to meet weekly – or worse, daily – deadlines. I felt the weekly demand quite literally sucking whatever waning creativity I had right out of my brain! I will be glad to knock these exertions down several notches!
So what does the future hold for a semi-salty old (I’ll be 70 on 25 April) doc?
A sprint, that’s what!
First, I’ll take my blogging – at a much more leisurely pace – to my personal website, www.thomaslsnyder.com. What I really want to do is complete writing my history of the Naval Hospital at Mare Island. Other historical projects include the Navy’s World War II V-12 Medical Program of accelerated medical (degree in 3 years vice 4) training; and of the roughly 75 hospitals the Navy created “for the purpose” during World War II, most of which virtually instantly disappeared soon after the war’s end; and my personal favorite, a creative surgical solution for a naval person destined for great fame.
But there’s more! In April 2014, I will assume the mantle of President of the Albany Medical College Alumni Association for two years. I am the first from west of the Hudson River (conceptually, anyway!) so selected. This is my medical alma mater’s recognition that it now has a national reach, with roughly 40% of its graduates living and practicing in the west. First among my presidential projects will be to create a robust network of class liaisons in order to develop a tighter bond between our alumni and the medical school. Here’s my motivation: medical education is immensely expensive and medical schools need large endowments to fund scholarships, professorships, research and capital investment. True, Albany Med’s endowment has recently grown – due in large part to efforts of the marvelously gregarious but very quality-serious Dean Vince Verdile – to around $140 million. But contrast that with Stanford Med, for example, which draws on an endowment of ~$1.4 billion. A reasonable goal for Albany Med, I’m told, is in the range of $400 -500 million. From an Alumni Association point of view, that’s a big challenge. But in collaboration with Maura Mack-Hisgen and her crew in the Alumni Office, Dean Verdile, and Terri Cerveny and her Office of Development outfit, we shall continue to build by steps – with purpose…
Then, I’m queued to take – late in 2015 – a two-year assignment as the national leader of an ancient (by U. S. standards, anyway) naval historical establishment which shall remain nameless until my appointment is made official. Here, if confirmed, I aim to be “the historical leader”, promoting “public history”, or “historical outreach” to the larger community by members of this much smaller, focused, organization.
So, come 2018, after this extended but no doubt exciting deployment, I’ll be – well and truly – ready to settle down to read and write history!
One key point: I could not have done any of this without the completely selfless, inspired, and even genius support of my sweetheart, the mother of my two fine sons, the love of my life, my very best friend and the center of my world – Gina Snyder.
* Our Papers Selection Board, since its inception, has benefited from the dedicated expertise of Professor Annette Finley-Croswhite (Old Dominion University), Jan Herman (now-Emeritus Historian of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery), and Professor Harry Langley (Emeritus, Catholic University; Emeritus Docent of the Navy Collection, Smithsonian Institution).
† Our Research Grant Selection Board members are Professors John Beeler (University of Alabama), Chris McKee (Emeritus, Grinnell) and Jennifer Telford (University of Connecticut)
©2013 Thomas L Snyder
As you are well aware, I have been trying to tell the story of disease in our wars…especially WW I ( The Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 in WW I), which cost more lives than combat in that conflict, For every American war before WW II, this largely was the case… death to disease trumped all combat deaths in these conflicts!.
In the Civil War a similar phenomenon of more deaths to disease than combat occurred (see: http://www.civilwarhome.com/casualties.htm ). Of the 618,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War, 2/3rd’s of them died of disease (414,152) and only 1/3 died in combat (204,070).
Then there were an additional 24,866 soldiers who died in prison due to disease and mistreatment as POW’s by both Union and Confederate forces!Outside of McKinley Kantor’s Pulitzer Prize Winning novel of a Confederate POW camp in SW Georgia, Andersonville (see: http://www.amazon.com/Andersonville-Plume-MacKinlay-Kantor/dp/0452269563/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362578878&sr=1-1&keywords=andersonville ), much of the darker story of neglectful treatment of POW’s in the Civil War, on both the Union and Confederate sides, is rarely told today in general American History texts covering the 19th Century. See the Camp Sumter/Andersonville POW Prison story ( http://www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/camp_sumter.htm ), where 45,000 union POW’s were imprisoned (see:http://www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/camp_sumter.htm ), and where 13,000 died of a variety of diseases (see: http://www.nps.gov/ande/historyculture/causesofdeath.htm ).
Andersonville’s decrepit conditions were chronicled in the diary on P.O.W Newell Burch. Burch of the 154th New York Infantry, was captured the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg and imprisoned at Belle Isle and then Andersonville. He is credited with being the longest held Union Soldier during the Civil War, a total of 661 days in Confederate hands (usgwarchives.net). His diary is currently possessed by the Minnesota Historical Society.
The breakdown of casualties to disease and battles was quite interesting. Again, the stunning statistics of disease in war (over 66% of Civil War soldiers died in bed not in battle) that is often airbrushed out of our American histories, only telling the “glory” side of war. More Civil War soldiers died of dysentery and diarrhea alone (way over 200,000) than were killed in all the battles and battlefields of the Civil War. Yet, you don’t see that kind of detail dealing with sickness in Civil War museum exhibits or re-enactments of battles…no field hospitals are built in rear areas in these re-enactments, nor any effort made to tell the general public the story of disease that accounted for the deaths of 2/3 of all the Civil War deaths in the Union and Confederate Armies. Many Americans are ignorant of this fact as we near the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.
The “other war” against disease in conflicts is the kind of military history that is not talked about a lot in our “battle-centric” telling of war stories. Fundamentally, I sense, especially among military historians a problem in methods of historiography which focuses on battles as the easiest and most interesting things to report in a conflict, as well as an easy way to add up winners and losers by territory conquered or numbers killed (KIA) or wounded (WIA). Meanwhile, lurking in the background are less jazzy statistics, like death dealing diseases in rear area cantonments, that cumulatively would trump the numbers of any combat casualties of a particular battle, campaign, or war.
Thus, we often ignore this larger background story of disease in war that dismally claims massive numbers of victims by a 2-1 margin in rear area field and general hospitals and POW camps, because it may have little to do with a 2 or 3 day battle like the Battle of Gettysburg. Unless a disease struck in the middle of a battle (like the 1918 Flu Pandemic did at the height of the Meuse Argonne Campaign in WW I, where General Pershing’s AEF was being decimated by this malady that made so many troops ineffective in that battle), little is ever said in the course of a war about the role of disease in a war (except that written by medical historians and buried in medical record archives of the Army and Navy). Only in long Civil War sieges like that of Vicksburg or St. Petersburg, or the discovery of terrible health conditions in POW camps, would reports of sickness creep into a battle history, and then only in a sentence or paragraph of historical commentary, before getting back to what really was interesting…the movement of the chess pieces of armies and stories of bravery of solders, marines or sailors in combat.
Yet at the end of the war, when you add all the casualties related to cause of death, we are shocked to discover the overwhelming numbers of those who lost their lives to disease…and a fair minded person asks, “where did that come from?” This big under-reported story of disease during the progress of a war is often ignored in our battle-centric focus of war reporting and military history inquiry, causing this “end of war statistic” to jump out at us after the war is over… but the military histories have already been written excluding this stark fact.
This dismal and boring aspect of disease in war largely goes under-reported in war…just like the story of logistics in war…the thousands of logistics ships and convoy escort ships that kept our forces going for four years to Europe and across the Pacific in WW II (a really big story of one of the main reasons we won WW II, which was lost in the historical glitter and clutter of reporting only 2 day to a week battles at sea…at Midway, Coral Sea, the “Slot” off of Guadalcanal, and Philippine Sea…or the terrible Pacific Island campaigns fought by sailors and marines that each took several weeks to a month per island). My eyes were opened to this little told “boring” logistical history, when I served on the USS Sacrament (AOE-1) that kept a whole aircraft carrier battle group going in beans, bullets/bombs and ship and jet fuel and supplies and mail for a deployment in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Sacramento_%28AOE-1%29 ). Wars and combat operations would grind to a halt in weeks without this logistical tail working well. Rarely is that story told in our histories.
You are then struck with the challenge of historiography…how we select what we report on and what we ignore in our telling of military history. My sense is disease has not been given equal billing…or at least paid its due, in many of our American war chronicles of military history. It would make a great topic at a convention of military historians…and hopefully the presenter would not be thrown out of the presentation room for pressing for better reporting of this often lost story of the “other war” with disease that goes on in every one of our conflicts. The diseases change from war to war, but the challenge remains: Today we still face the danger of a variant of the 1918 flu pandemic bug getting away for us with CDC estimates of 100 million casualties…or “super drug resistant bugs” that can overwhelm a military hospital full of wounded military personnel and kill through infection many servicemen in record time.
As a former Navy Fleet Hospital Chaplain for a 500 bed combat zone fleet hospital, I am impressed with this side of war that a lot of chaplains in military hospitals, as well as military doctors, nurses and medics/corpsmen, see with great regularity. It is not the glory side of war, but the gory side of war…with field and general hospitals filled with wounded warriors and service personnel stricken with all manner of death dealing diseases, soon forgotten as the battle moves on…and the story quickly moves on to the next battle or campaign.
The big lesson of history in our wars is the critical role our military medical departments play in dealing with wounds of war and infectious and debilitating diseases of the battlefield that can swallow large portions of armies and navies over the course of a war. It is a cautionary tale to military leaders not to neglect paying attention to disease in war that easily can kill more service personnel than any combat they may encounter. The record of history is clear that to ignore the medical aspect of military operations is to traverse into a deadly kill zone at one’s own peril with often devastating consequences. Only as we report this “other war” against disease and it becomes part of our military histories and learning from past conflicts, will we remain vigilant and prepared to fund and support efforts to deal with future medical challenges of disease on the battlefield.
Well, I have waxed long on the topic of disease getting better billing in our military histories. You are welcome to float this topic at a convention of military historians, but I am not sure what kind of reception you will receive. The “glory story of war” bias is alive and well among many military historians who see reporting diseases during wars as a distraction from what really is important in military history…reporting battles, campaigns and politics of war.
All I would hope would happen is an act of inclusion of reporting on disease among military historians…not exclusion …not diminishing the acts of valor or sacrifices of combat…but including better reporting of the role of disease in war in keeping with the scope and dimension of the problem… in the larger sphere of military history reporting.
©2013 David Thompson
Last April, the Society Executive Director (and your blogger-in-chief) announced that he would step down from these posts as of his 70th birthday, on 25 April 2013. In subsequent months, a few interested individuals held their collective breaths as we made a search for my successor. Then, happily, Jim_Dolbow stepped forward to take on the task. Jim has a long and abiding love of Navy history. He’s worked as a contractor for the Naval History and Heritage Command, where he built readership of their social media into the “tens of millions”, according to his former boss there. Jim is very well connected with the Naval historical establishment throughout Washington DC. He will bring new ideas and new energy – “new directions” (same former boss) – to the Society. Jim will officially take the Conn on 25 April 2013. Welcome aboard, Jim!
This week, I had the great good fortune to attend a lecture by Navy Surgeon General VADM Matthew Nathan at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco. When questioned about the effect of the prospective sequester on Navy medicine, he opined that combat casualty care and post-combat care will not be affected. What concerned him, he said, was that as we withdraw troops from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the lessons that have made our efforts to save life and limb there so remarkably successful.
Somehow, I don’t think our combat surgeons and corpsmen will forget these lessons: trauma surgeons will continue to train in big city hospitals, where Friday and Saturday night “rod and gun club” (as we called it in Chicago when I trained there) activities will continue to simulate combat conditions for years to come. Navy Corpsmen, the “first responders” in the field of combat – the ones who are present in the “platinum fifteen minutes” and are so responsible for saving lives after combat injuries – will soon be trained as Emergency Medical Technicians. If the Navy is wise, it will arrange to have its trauma surgeons return regularly to big city hospitals for refresher training, and its corpsmen, if they are not actively practicing their EMT arts, to also refresh their skills, in our larger cities.
What I would worry about more, however, is that the Navy bureaucracy will forget these lessons of history, and through the passage of time in peace, navy medical doctrine – and logistics – will fall out of date. Budget cuts may mean archaic or non-functional CT scanners and outdated materials in those Medlog lockers. I submit that it should remain a high priority that a dedicated team of medical logisticians annually review our forward positioned medical supplies to make certain that they contain state-of-the-art equipment and supplies, and that trauma care doctrine is regularly updated to reflect the latest best practices in combat casualty care.
©2013 Thomas L Snyder
Guest Blogger: Chaplain Dave Thompson on World War I Flu and Combat Deaths, as Seen Through a Wisconsin Lens – and, a World War I Memorial
I came across an interesting document yesterday demonstrating the impact of disease to combat deaths of a 50:50 ratio in WW I. The Gold Star List is quite a document and testament of the huge role disease played in WW I. “Wisconsin’s Gold Star List: Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Nurse casualties for WW I”, was written in 1920 shortly after WW I and spells out in detail the cause of death of all Wisconsin service personnel in WW I (see: http://www.accessgenealogy.com/worldwarone/wisconsin/ ). The Wisconsin Gold Star list encompasses soldiers, sailors, marines and nurses who were casualties from that state by county listing in WW I (click on any county to look at the list).
The Wisconsin WW I Gold Star List takes cold national statistics of 50,280 combat deaths, 57,000 deaths to disease (with 52,199 being American troop deaths due to the pneumonia/influenza epidemic of 1918), and the remainder due to suicide and accidents to make up 116,000 deaths of American Service personnel in WW I… and it personalizes these large casualty figures into cause of death and assigns real names to people who “just lived down the block” from our relatives, before going off to war and never returning. It helps us better remember all those who lost their lives in World War I due to combat action or the Great Influenza/pneumonia Pandemic of 1918.
What makes Wisconsin WW I Gold Star List so unique is, outside of North Carolina, to my knowledge, no other state did this kind of historical retrieval of information on WW I casualties and put it in one organized place like this for states to commemorate WW I (usually the names of Army personnel are buried in Army division casualty lists and are not organized by state to see the impact of World War I upon a state and counties and cities within their boundaries.
This document really brings the cost of war home to Wisconsin residents, who knew these people or their families. Many grand-children and great-grandchildren will recognize their loved on from such a list and it makes more personal for all American the cost of World War I in human lives.
Also, what makes Wisconsin a rather unique study of casualties is: It gives a much more balanced reporting of casualties at home in WW I U.S. military training camps where some 30,000 service personnel died of the flu, as well as identifies flu/pneumonia deaths and other diseases WW I servicemen suffered with the AEF in Europe, along with combat casualties and death from wounds and accidents.
Any objective reader of these lists can see the stark, almost equal proportions of casualties between those who lost their lives to disease (mostly to pneumonia, which was the last stage of the influenza that raged through our armed forces in 1918 during WW I)… as well as listing those who lost their lives due to combat action with the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe WW I.
The 32nd Red Arrow Division from the Wisconsin National Guard was involved in heavy fighting in Europe involving its citizen solders in heavy combat, unlike many other states that never got their National Guard units overseas. The 32nd Division suffered the 3rd highest casualties of AEF Army Divisions in WW I, 13,261 casualties (2,250 KIA & 11,011 WIA) in WW I. They were in the thick of the fighting in the Meuse Argonne Offensive when the Great Influenza/Pneumonia Epidemic struck our AEF forces in Europe in 1918.
The 32nd Division was also used in post-war occupation duty in Germany and some of its subordinate units were used in an expedition to Russia to support the White Russian Army against the Red Army in 1919 (suffering casualties to disease, including the last wave of the influenza/pneumonia epidemic in 1918-1919). They came home to Wisconsin in the summer of 1919, serving much longer after World War I than many other Army units and WWI soldiers who were not part of occupation duty and were demobilized much earlier.
The Gold Star List records deaths due to combat action (killed in action or “KIA” or Died of Wounds or “DW”), accidents, suicide, murder, and death due to disease or “DD,” spelling out the specific disease that claimed their life…including many influenza and pneumonia deaths caused by the 1918 Flu Pandemic.
I have taken 10 samplings from around the State of Wisconsin to demonstrate how both disease (mostly the influenza/pneumonia epidemic in 1918) and combat contributed to this list in almost equal proportions (see: sample below):
(1) Ashland Country (Northeastern Wisconsin): 39 casualties, with 23 dying of disease (19 by influenza/pneumonia and 4 by other diseases) and 16 dying from combat (14 KIA and 2 died of wounds).
(2) Brown County (East central Wisconsin around Green Bay, WI): 46 casualties, with 28 dying of disease (23 by influenza/pneumonia and 5 by other diseases) and 18 dying from combat(12 KIA and 6 died of wounds).
(3) Dane County (South Central Wisconsin near the State Capitol in Madison, WI) : 142 casualties, with 77 dying of disease (60 by influenza/pneumonia and 17 by other diseases) and 65 dying from combat (52 KIA and 13 died of wounds).
(4) Douglas County (Northern Wisconsin around Superior, WI on the border with Duluth, MN): 51 casualties, with 27 dying of disease (23 by influenza/pneumonia and 4 from other diseases) and 24 dying from combat (15 KIA and 9 died of wounds).
(5) Eau Claire County (North Central Wisconsin near Eau Claire, WI): 50 casualties, with 29 dying of disease (27 by influenza/pneumonia and 2 from other diseases) and 21 dying from combat (19 KIA and 2 died of wounds).
(6) Fond du Lac County (South Central Wisconsin near Fond du lac, Wisconsin): 77 casualties, with 34 dying of disease (28 by influenza/pneumonia and 6 from other diseases) and 43 dying from combat (29 KIA and 14 dying of wounds).
(7) Kenosha County (southeast corner of Wisconsin near Kenosha, Wisconsin on the Illinois border): 43 casualties, with 23 dying of disease (21 by influenza/pneumonia and 2 from other diseases) and 20 dying from combat (13 KIA and 7 dying of wounds).
(8) La Crosse County (southwestern Wisconsin near La Crosse, WI on the southeastern border of MN): 55 casualties, with 29 dying of disease (24 by influenza/pneumonia and 5 from other diseases) and 26 dying from combat (14 KIA and 12 dying of wounds).
(9) Milwaukee County (south eastern Wisconsin near Milwaukee, WI): 387 casualties, with 165 dying of disease (118 by influenza/pneumonia and 47 from other diseases) and 222 dying from combat (183 KIA and 39 dying of wounds).
(10) Waukesha County near Waukesha, WI in southeastern Wisconsin, a western suburb of Milwaukee, WI): 61 casualties, with 43 dying of disease (38 from influenza/pneumonia and 5 from other diseases) and 19 dying from combat (15 KIA and 4 dying of wounds).
A fair and balanced picture of WW I casualties in this sample of 10 representative Wisconsin Counties is that 478 service personnel died of disease (381 died of the influenza/pneumonia epidemic of 1918) and 474 died of combat…almost in equal numbers,
This state sample from Wisconsin squares pretty much with national statistics of the close to 50:50 ratio between casualties to combat and those to disease in WW I.
Hopefully the newly created WW I Centennial Commission created this year and any WW I Memorial that may be created on the Mall in Washington, DC might reflect this balanced perspective on WW I casualties and tell the story of WW I to reflect the losses both in combat and to disease in The Great War.
This is an interesting and valuable document that tells in a more balanced way the terrible cost of war and the role disease (especially The Great Flu Pandemic of 1918)… as well as combat… and how it played out in this conflict, which claimed the lives of 116,000 servicemen (many whom have yet to be properly recognized in a National WW I Monument or in our many county, state or national museums covering World War I.
I hope you find this interesting and helpful information to include in the WWI story, as we prepare for the Centennial of WW I and consider an effort to have a National WW I Monument built on the Mall in Washington DC by 2018.
This week, we welcome CAPT Tom Farrell, MC, US Navy, Ret, as our guest blogger. Tom has been working on identifying the Navy Corpsmen present at the iconic flag raising on Mt Suribachi in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Herewith, Tom Farrell’s “say” in the matter.
CORPSMEN ON SURIBACHI: PARTICIPATION IN THE TWO FLAG RAISINGSThomas C. Farrell, Jr. Captain MC USN(r) Raymond Jacobs Sgt USMCR
“Clifford Langley was not there.” James Bradley1, thus began my search for the identity of the second corpsman that accompanied John Bradley on 1st Lt. Schrier’s patrol to the summit of Mt Suribachi.
February 23, 1945, LtCol Chandler Johnson Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion, 28th Marine Regiment after receiving a briefing from Captain Arthur Naylor that a patrol lead by SGT Sherman Watson, had successfully reached the summit of Suribachi, ordered 1st Lt. Harold Schrier to lead a 40 man patrol composed of elements of the Easy company Third Platoon and personnel from other 2nd Battalion elements up the mountain. After ascending to the summit, the patrol raised a small flag brought along on a pipe at 1030 hours. This was the first flag raised on that day and the event was photographed by Marine photographer Louis Lowery. The subsequent raising of the second, larger flag 2 hours later yielded the famous scene captured by AP photographer Joe Rosenthal. The fact that there were 2 flags raised and confusion as to whether Rosenthal “posed” his shot generated a debate. The first flag on Suribachi’s summit was an immense morale booster to the embattled Marines below. Its unfurling lead to loud cheering and signaling from the Navy ships offshore. The Rosenthal photo had a massive positive PR benefit to the Corps and as it was the centerpiece of the upcoming 7th War Bond Drive, Commandant Vandergrif ordered all mention of the first flag raising to cease. This directive lead to an institutional ossification during which individuals in the Lowery photos were routinely misidentified in the official Marine Corps records.
My interest in the identity of the first flag raisers peaked after examination of the Lowery photo showed an extra set of hands and helmet in the photo not identified as to owner.
Thanks to the kindness of COL Walt Ford2 at Leatherneck Magazine, I was able to obtain 14 of Lowery’s photos of the event. Using available sources, I tentatively identified all the individuals in the photos. I then sent them to Raymond Jacobs3 (patrol radioman “f” Co), Charles W. Lindberg 4 (“E” Co flame-thrower) and Keith Wells 5(XO “E” Co) asking them to confirm or change my initial identities. I now had eyewitness confirmation of true identities of the participants (see photo#1). It was now clear that individual identified as Schrier holding the flag pole was actually John Bradley!
Two Navy corpsmen accompanied the patrol (plus stretcher bearers, number unknown.) The first, John Bradley PhM2c was assigned to 3rd Platoon “E” Company. The second assigned corpsman was Clifford Langley PhM2c but he was wounded on February 21, 1945 and was not part of the patrol. The identity of the second corpsman remained obscure until recently. John Bradley in an oral interview for the Naval Historical Center (www.history.navy.mil)6 recalled that he and “another corpsman by the name of Zimik (?) Pharmacist mate 2/c were the corpsmen attached to that patrol.” The publication of James Bradley’s Flags of our Fathers 7contained Rosenthal’s Gung Ho! photo. A debate over the identification of some of the individuals eventually led to the recognition of Gerald Ziehme PhM2c as a member of the patrol. His wife Judith told me that “Jerry said Bradley grabbed him and pulled him into the photo.”8 He had volunteered to go as “he had neither a wife or child” though assigned to headquarters from a replacement battalion.
Three Marine Divisions (3rd, 4th, and 5th) took part in the Iwo Jima invasion (Operation Detachment). Integral to the divisions were 100 Navy Surgeons and approximately 1000 Navy corpsmen. Casualties to these medical elements were: Surgeons 23 (2 killed ) Corpsmen 827 (201 killed ) 9. The nature of the conflict to include large amounts of artillery led to an overall killed to wounded rate of 8% overall versus 3% for WWII in general. The corpsmen’s casualty rate exceeded even that of the Marines. Four corpsmen were awarded the Medal of Honor, two posthumously. John Bradley earned the Navy Cross on February 21, 1945 for conspicuous bravery attending to a gravely wounded Marine while under intense enemy fire.
Typical of WWII veterans, the two corpsmen went on with their lives not discussing their experiences. Bradley did participate in the 7th bond tour, the dedication of the Marine Memorial and played himself in The Sands of Iwo Jima but otherwise resisted attempts at interviews and it was only after his death that his son learned through saved memorabilia of his father’s accomplishments. In fact James Bradley was unaware that it was his father misidentified as Schrier in the Lowery photograph until we showed him the other Lowery photographs. Ziehme did not seek public recognition until he was labeled an “imposter” after his attempts to correct the Gung Ho! photograph identities. His reaction was to hire a lawyer and a forensic photographic expert to confirm his presence in the Gung Ho! Photograph 10. His wife Judith also told me that Jerry and John Bradley would often run into each other awaiting care at the Veterans Administration Hospital and remained friends.
While Iwo Jima and the two flag raisings remain primarily a Marine Corps icon, it is our hope that this article would highlight some of the contributions Navy Medicine, particularly the corpsmen, made to this epic battle. Navy Corpsmen are “The Jewels of Navy Medicine” and the respect we as Navy medical personnel receive from our Marine comrades, we owe in no small part to their devotion to duty and sacrifices. “THE MARINES HAVE FOUND THEIR FEW GOOD MEN-NAVY CORPSMEN!”
I invite your attention to the following materials.
Corpsmen On Iwo Stanley Drabowski Jan-Feb Navy Medicine 1995
Surgeon on Iwo James S Vedder Presidio Press 1984
- James Bradley Personal communication
- COL Walt ford USMC(r) Personal communication
- Raymond Jacobs Personal communication
- Charles W Lindberg Personal communication
- Keith Wells Personal communication
- Naval Historical Center www.history.navy.mil
- Flags of our Fathers James Bradley Bantum Books May 2000
- Judith Ziehme Personal communication
- The History of the Medical Department of the United States Navy in World War II Volume II FMFRP 12-12 U. S. Marine Corps 22 November 1989 (NAVMED P-5021 1953)
Gina and I planned to go to the recent Inauguration, and we’d secured tickets through our Congressman’s office. But jury duty supervened. So we canceled our reservations and gave the tickets to our older son James, who lives in the DC suburb of Falls Church.
It turns out that our tickets permitted access to an area pretty close to the inaugural event, in a small traffic circle that contains one of James’s favorite Washington features, the little-known and under-appreciated “Peace Monument”, also known by the moniker cited in my title, above.
The monument was erected in 1877-78 to memorialize Union naval deaths at sea during the Civil War. Sculpted by Maine native Franklin Simmons – a well-known portrait sculptor of the time – it stands, at 44 feet, in Peace Circle at Pennsylvania Avenue and 1st Street NW. The top figures depict America (or Grief) holding her covered face against the shoulder of History, weeping in mourning. History holds a tablet inscribed, “They died that their country might live.” The major figures standing below are Victory – facing west – with an infant Mars, god of war, and an infant Neptune, god of the sea, lounging at her feet. Facing the capitol stands Peace, with symbols of peace and industry, science, literature and art resting at her feet.
The monument’s inscription reads, “In memory of the officers, seamen and marines of the United States Navy who fell in defense of the Union and liberty of their country, 1861-1865.” Admiral David D Porter, Civil War commander of gunboat fleets, conceived the monument and raised the necessary funds from private donors. The monument came under the cognizance of the Architect of the Capitol in 1973. Badly weathered and damaged after 100 years of neglect, it has since undergone three major restoration / preservation efforts, in 1990-1991, 1999 and 2010. Interestingly, several limbs of the statue’s figures were broken off when crowds climbed on them during the 2009 inauguration.
My son “discovered” the Peace Monument in the 1990s and is a serious devoté. His favorite image of it is this one:
My source of information is the Architect of the Capitol website, http://aoc.gov/capitol-grounds/peace-monument, accessed 31 January 2013.
©2013 Thomas L Snyder