Society Announces the 2019 Harry D Langley Book Prize Winner

The Society for the History of Navy Medicine takes great pleasure in announcing that the 2019 Harold D Langley Book Prize for Excellence in the History of Maritime Medicine will be awarded to Thomas Helling, MD for his book, Desperate Surgery in the Pacific War: Doctors and Damage Control for American Wounded, 1941-1945, McFarland, 2017.

Professor Barry Gough, president of our Book Selection Committee describes the work thus:

A work of extensive scholarship and lucid prose, this is history on a grand and

descriptive scale. The account is told with commitment to recreate the past,

weaving the history of war, afloat and ashore, through various circumstances

of the Pacific war – jungles, atolls and islands. Caring for the wounded posed

serious challenges on the frontline, and the stabilizing of patients until they

could be evacuated prevented many deaths. This account of the efforts and

innovations of medical personnel forms an important chapter of the logistics

of waging war in a distant war zone.

Dr Helling is Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of General Surgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS.

Sincere thanks to Professor Gough (retired, of Wilfrid Laurier University) and his book prize selection committee colleagues (and Society members) Andre’ Sobocinski (historian at the Navy Bureau Of Medicine and Surgery) and Bob Bramson, MD (retired director of pediatric radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and retired associate professor at Harvard Medical School).

Harold D Langley, in honor of whom the award is named, is an emeritus professor of history (Catholic University Of America) and retired curator of naval history at the Smithsonian Institution. He is a founding member of the Society and a revered mentor. His book, A History of Medicine in the Early U.S. Navy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), is a pioneering work in our field of interest.

(C)2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine

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Memorial Day Reflection


As you enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, please take time to remember someone you know who gave his or her life in service to our country. 
Search as I might, I couldn’t find any data on medical personnel who’ve died in war time. But we know many have. Those who care also die.
On Monday, I’ll have the honor of giving my city’s Memorial Day speech. Here’s my peroration:

In conclusion, I ask you – no, I task you:
–every day, to try to memorialize – perhaps by putting on a special pin or necklace, or by saying, out loud, the name or names of someone who died in our nation’s service – our nation’s fallen ones.
–when you do that, give a thought to those who still suffer the ravages of war time experience, and seek advice – the VFW would be a good source – about how you can support their care. Be sure our legislators know that you favor generous medical and psychological benefits for veterans, especially including the homeless and addicted men and women who’ve served.
–finally, hold in your thoughts those who now face danger on our behalf.

Let us be thankful, every day, that we live in this great country, and, let us be especially thankful for the people who defended her then and defend her now. Let us remember them – and thereby preserve them from falling completely out of memory.

(c)2019 Thomas L Snyder

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Announcing the Papers Accepted for Presentation at the Society’s McMullen Symposium Panel

The Society is proud to announce these papers have been selected for our panel on the history of maritime medicine at the Naval Academy McMullen Naval History Symposium at Annapolis, 19 – 20 September 2019.

The name of the Session is The Health of Sailors.


“Those Wretched souls…” – The Health and Morale of European and American Seamen in Nineteenth Century British India, by Manikarnika Dutta, PhD Candidate, Welcome Unit in the History of Medicine, University of Oxford

Climate, disease and colonialism: the Massaua port in the Italian studies of tropical medicine (end of XIX Century – mid-XX Century, by Costanza Bonelli, PhD Candidate, University of Rome La Sapienza

Pride and Prejudice: Reforms, and the Rise in Status of British Naval Surgeons During the French Republican and Napoleonic Wars (1793 – 1815), by Gerald Stulc, MD, FACS (ret), CAPT, MC, USNR (RET)

Dynamics of Early 20th Century Measles Outbreaks at the U.S. Naval Academy, by Andrew Bobb, PhD, LCDR, MSC, USN; Mitchell Winkie, MIDN 1/c, USNA; Virginia F Smith, PhD, Department of Chemistry, USNA

Congratulations to the scholars!

The President of our panel will be RADM Frederick Sanford, MC, USN (RET).

Our Commentator will be Annette Finley-Croswhite, PhD, University Professor and Professor of History, Old Dominion University.

Sincere thanks to our Papers Selection Board: Dale C Smith, PhD, Professor of Military Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, President; Paul Berman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine (Emeritus), University of Massachusetts School of Medicine; Mark F Leep, MA, JD, MBA, Office of Research, Boncours Health Systems, Virginia.

©2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine

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A Letter to Our Members and Friends: Society News

I sent the letter below to Society members today:

Dear Members and Friends of the Society,
Some time ago, I told you I would send out the current Treasurer’s Report so that you can see how efficiently your Society is run, and as a reminder that we are always appreciative of our members’ dues-donation support. I’m pleased to attach the report for fiscal year 2018, just given to the Foundation Board of Directors today. [Editor’s note: I cannot attach the report to this post. If you want to see it, contact me at]
Two of our Board members resigned today. Captain Joel Labow, MC, USN (Ret) has served on the Board for several years. He resigns because of health issues. We appreciate his years of service and guidance. Captain Kenneth Hagan, USN (Ret) has been on the Board for two years. He resigned for logistical reasons. We appreciate his service and guidance as well. We are now looking for volunteers to serve on our Board. This is reasonably light work, requiring perhaps 3 or 4 hours of concentrated mental work per year, relating to our annual Board meetings. Contact me by reply, with your CV, if you are interested.
I’m pleased to announce that the Board elected Robert T Bramson, MD Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Dr Bramson was chief of Pediatric Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, then executive VP of the radiology department at Boston Childrens Hospital. He retired as associate professor from Harvard.
Finally, our Book Prize and Papers Selection Boards are hard at work selecting the next winner of Harry J Langley Book Prize and the best papers for our panel at the McMullen Naval History Symposium at Annapolis in September. Announcements of winners are due at the end of April.
Thank you for your continued interest in and support of the Society.
©2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine
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Announcing the Society’s McMullen Symposium Papers Selection Board

The Society is pleased to announce the following members have volunteered to serve in selecting the best papers for presentation at the 2019 McMullen Naval History Symposium. They are:

Dale Smith, PhD. (President of the Board). Dr. Smith is Professor of Military Medicine and History at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences and Chair of that University’s Military and Emergency Medicine Committee on Appointments, Promotion, and Tenure. He is an award winning writer in medical history. His areas of interest are the history of medical education, the history of infectious diseases, the history of surgery, and the problems of patient evacuation in military operations.

Paul Berman, MD. Dr Berman is a retired Internist and a medical historian, with concentration on 19th century American medicine. He is a member of the American Association for the History of Medicine and the American Osler Society.

Mark F Leep, J.D. Mr Leep, a former Marine Corps captain, has a 25 year career in human subjects research protections and other research enterprise regulatory and operational functions as an attorney for industry drug and device sponsors, clinical research organizations, physician researchers, and academic and community health care institutions, and as an Institutional Review Board member and vice chair, consultant, and human research protections operations leader.

Under Dr Smith’s guidance, the Board will select the best of the papers submitted for presentation at the Society’s panel at the McMullen Naval History Symposium in Annapolis in September. The Board plans to announce its selections no later that 15 April.

©2019 The Society for the History of Navy Medicine


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McMullen Symposium Papers Selection Board

It looks like we will have several papers submissions for our panel(s) at the McMullen Naval History Symposium in September. That means we need to stand up a Papers Selection Board to screen the submissions and select the best for presentation.

I’m looking for three volunteers for this purpose. I’d like to have a balance of academics and health professionals on this board. If you are interested, please send me your name and short CV / bio at


©2019 Thomas L Snyder

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Reminder: Call for Papers Deadline 15 February

This is a reminder that the Society will mount a 3-paper academic panel (or more, if good paper proposals come flowing in) at the Naval Academy McMullen Naval History Symposium, 19 – 20 September 2019. The deadline for paper submissions is 15 February.

Remember also that the Society offers travel grants of up to $850 for graduate / professionals students whose papers are selected for presentation.

Please submit your summary and short bio to me at

©2019 Thomas L Snyder

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