Highlights from “The Pacific—The Peaceful Ocean?” A Joint Conference of the Naval Historical Foundation, the North American Society for Oceanic History, and the Society for the History of Navy Medicine
May 13-16, 2015 in Monterey, California was really an exciting time for the members of the Society for the History of Navy Medicine and all attendees of the joint conference. The Society for the History of Navy Medicine was thrilled to participate and included three officers in attendance, Executive Director, Professor, Annette Finley-Croswhite, Board Member and Professor Emeritus Harold Langley, and Secretary/Treasurer, Captain Thomas Snyder, MC, USN, RET. We were particularly thrilled that Harry Langley made the trip to California from Virginia. Professor Langley is the 2014 Commodore Dudley W. Knox Naval History Lifetime Achievement Award Winner from the Naval Historical Foundation. At the age of ninety he is still an active participant and dear friend of the Society and its members. Executive Director Finley-Croswhite had the pleasure of introducing her teenage son, Alex Croswhite, to Professor Langley and they had a marvelous conversation at the Casa Serrano conference reception on historic flag preservation. The Naval Historical Foundation hosted the delightful reception at Casa Serrano in downtown Monterey.
The conference included a fascinating panel sponsored by the Society for the History of Navy Medicine entitled “Medical Care in a Pressurized Sewer Pipe: Word War II Pharmacy Mates assigned to Submarines.” Three papers were presented: Anthony Wilson offered “USS Pampanito World War II Submarine Museum and Memorial,” Zack Mason tackled “Sub Docs: A Cultural Analysis of the Day to Day Activities of the Pharmacist’s Mates aboard American Submarines During the Second World War,” and Diane Cooper presented “Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Deeds: The Forgotten Pharmacy Mates of World War II.” Professor Finley-Croswhite, chaired the session, made a very brief comment, and ran the question and answer session. The panelists all revealed fascinating insight into what they called the “Silent Service,” a group of corpsmen with specialized training who served as the key medical officers on submarines during World War II. The history of these Pharmacist Mates is not well known, and so the papers not only illuminated a little-known area of medical history but also created something of a spoken memorial to these courageous and innovative men in the naval medical corps.
Diane Cooper is the Curator of the USS Pampanito, World War II Submarine Museum and Memorial; Anthony Wilson is an Educator on the USS Pampanito, and Zach Mason works for the National Park Service on the East coast. Zack was also the recipient of the Society for the History of Navy Medicine Graduate Student Travel Grant that allowed him to make the trip form the East coast to attend the conference. He recently received his MA in Maritime Studies from East Carolina University and is pursuing his interests in submarine technology, cultural landscapes, and emergency medicine.
The Society for the History of Navy Medicine thanks the Naval Historical Foundation and the North American Society for Oceanic History for having included us in this engaging conference in beautiful Monterey. We’d also like to thank Diane, Anthony, and Zack for offering such interesting papers!