||MAY 31, 1945. ROUNDUP |
Sgt. C. M. Buchanan -- Roundup Field Correspondent
(caption) Nurse Lt. R, G. Glover, Dayton, 0., inspects the cast on the arm of Cpl. Grady Neal, QM truck driver who plummeted 350 feet down a precipitous mountainside. (Signal Corps photo.)
(caption) X-ray Technicians Pie. Jesse Blakely, left, and Sgt. Calvin Sowell make a pieturo .r aa American soldier'" head. (Signal Corps Photo.)
(caption) Comely Lt. Agnes B Glass, Meridian, Miss., is Chief Nurse of the Negro Hospital on the Stilwell Road. (Signal Corps Photo.)
Hundreds of supply-laden trucks roaring up the dense, jungled sides or the Patkai Range on their way to China pass a scattered group of buildings known as the Tagap Hospital. Situated on the side of a 4,500-foot peak, it is the only hospital in Asia entirely staffed by Negroes and is one of two such colored units overseas today.
It was to this site of deserted warehouses, bashas, and mess halls, left abandoned as the Stilwell Road progressed steadily forward, that the all-Negro Station Hospital moved in October, 1944, to serve the thousands of troops who perform maintenance and improvements on the highway and drive the big cargo vehicles over the important supply route deep into Burma and China. Since 65 per cent of the personnel on the Stilwell Road is colored, it is only fitting that one of the Negro Hospitals be chosen to carry on it's work here.
But the patients treated are of a wide variety. "We have somewhat of an international aspect.", one technician remarked. Chinese, British, Indians, Burmese, as well as Americans both white and colored, are cared for as the occasion demands. About 20 per cent of the patients to date have been white.
The first job that confronted the medics upon their arrival at Tagap was the need for improved facilities to shelter and treat the sick and wounded. With the help of native labor, new bamboo bashas were constructed to serve as laboratories, operating room, wards, and quarters for the hospital personnel.
Salvaged pipe was obtained from Pipe Line Engineers and a complete water system was installed running from watersheds high in the surrounding hills. The colored medical technicians and hospital men improvised ways to provide hot water electrical and auxiliary power sources.
The entire area was re-worked to provide better drainage. Deep ditches were dug to carry off the tons of water that rush down the precipitous mountainsides. Some of the old buildings were burned and their bamboo sides salvaged and moved to new locations.
High winds tore up the movie amphitheater and a new one was 'dozed from sloping hillsides. A ball diamond and basketball courts are kept in perfect condition, for sports are an important part of the morale program, since the troops, isolated as they are, have no access to recreational centers.
The site of the hospital has an interesting history. It was for centuries the happy hunting grounds of the Nagas, a primitive people, who, only a generation or two ago, were head hunters and even today display the skulls· of hapless adversaries as trophies in their native bamboo bustees.
When the Japs captured Rangoon early in 1942 and swept northward through the Mogaung and Hukawng Valley, they were slowed down as they reached the forbidding, eternally dim jungles of the Tagap region-farthest point of penetration in their bid to overrun all of northern Burma. Setting up entrenchments and fortification, they dug in against the fury of the monsoon that swept down from the heavy, low hanging clouds that move in like a storm from sea.
American-trained Chinese. Armies late in 1943 marched from Ledo over the Stilwell Road Lifeline and engaged the Japs in a short skirmish. Deserted by their frightened elephant wallahs and unable to stem the Chinese drive, the Japs fled toward prepared positions to the south and Tagap became a Chinese-American depot.
The hospital that has grown out of the sweat and planning of the doctors, nurses, medical technicians, cooks, mechanics and other soldiers is a thoroughly modern institution, a tremendous tribute to the ingenuity and perseverance of the courageous men and women who administer to the sick and wounded at their hospital in the clouds.
Personnel performing the many functions required are from two separate units. Commanding officer of the entire unit is tall, alert Maj. William H. Strickland, graduate of Lincoln University and the Howard Institute of Medicine. Before he entered military service in 1942, Strickland practiced in Philadelphia, specializing in internal medicine, and was attending physician at the Mercy Hospital and Douglas Hospital in that city.
Assisting him is a capable and well-known surgeon, Maj. Robert S. Wilkinson, whose contributions to outstanding surgical journals are quoted in Military Surgical Manuals. He was a former associate visiting surgeon for the Harlem Hospital, New York City, and consulting surgeon for the Harlem Valley State Hospital. Wilkinson, pleasant and efficient, was a Phi Beta Kappa at Dartmouth College before entering Harvard Medical College.
Aside from his duties as surgical head of the Tagap unit, Wilkinson is also commanding officer of a complete station hospital unit which is attached here while awaiting orders to move to another location and install a medical center there.
The two units work together, each contributing to a continuous training program that is opening up the fields of X-Ray, Pharmacy, Clinical Laboratory work, Operating Room procedure and ward duty to more men all the time.
Activated in August, 1943, the unit commanded by Strickland worked together in the States one year before departing for the India-Burma Theater. As one of the original staff of the first a11Negro Hospitals at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., he was assistant chief of medicine there when called upon' to activate and command the new unit destined for overseas service. A cadre from Strickland's organization later helped found the second unit commanded by Wilkinson.
In the first three and one-half months of operation, more than 500 patients were treated at the Tagap institution. Thirty miles from the hospital at a particularly dangerous spot on the Stilwell Road, where construction and pipeline engineers work, an ambulance and first aid station has< been set up to provide protection for the soldiers thus endangered.
Though deep in the Burma jungle, the hospital is equipped and prepared for any contingency. Ample stores of medical and surgical supplies are kept on hand. An X-Ray section, Pharmacy, Laboratory, Operating Rooms and Dental Clinic are staffed by able doctors, nurses, and technicians.
In charge of the Pharmacy, Sgt. John R. King, former Roxbury, Mass., pharmacist, has Supervised the filling of 1,800 prescriptions since the hospital opened its doors for business prior to the first of January 1945. In addition to meeting all requirements of the patients, adjoining outfits are also supplied. Clean, glistening and professional, the Pharmacy is more complete and has better facilities for the producing of prescriptions than the average corner drug store in your hometown.
A visit to the operating section is a revelation. Busy, efficient Negro nurses in the central dressing room adjacent fold and sterilize bandages and supplies. Pleasant, smiling principal chief nurse, Lt. Agnes B. Glass, Meridian, Miss., explained, "An operation is like a stage play. Just as rehearsals and stage settings take more time than the actual play runs, so does each operation require endless hours of preparing bandages, syringes, sterile gloves, cotton dressings, tubes, needles and Novocain's.
In the Clinical Laboratory, trained soldier technicians perform such tests as urinalysis, hematology, feces, sputum, malaria and other smears, averaging 1,000 separate lab checks monthly.
A trip through the wards reveals both colored and white patients recuperating from diverse ailments. Outstanding among convalescents was Cpl. Grady Neal, 37-year-old Flagstaff; Ariz., soldier who has spent more than three months recovering from serious injuries sustained along the Stilwell road.
Neal, a QM truck driver, while carrying supplies forward plummeted 350 feet over a sheer cliff when his heavily-laden cargo Carrier slid in the slick mud, careened from the side of the bank and headed for the yawning abyss below. "I never knew what happened until I woke up here'', Neal asserted. Despite a fractured leg, six broken ribs, dislocation and concussion, he is mending nicely under the careful eye of the Negro Hospital personnel.
In a medical ward, S/Sgt. Gordon A. Vangsness, a white soldier from Villa Park, Ill., a pipe line construction foreman, was attacked by two of the most prevalent diseases of this Theater-amoebic and bacillary dysentery, but is due to leave the hospital shortly after receiving every attention there.
Nurse Lt. Daryle E. Foister, Bedford, Penn., is typical of the girls caring for the hospitalized soldiers, and is experiencing her second assignment overseas. Miss Foister spent 10 months in Liberia during the early days of the war. "I haven't minded my overseas duty," she remarked, "I've learned a lot about the customs and habits of foreign peoples". Trained at Mercy Hospital, Philadelphia, she later was connected with the Sea View Hospital, Staten Island, N. Y.
Efficiency among the personnel has not been confined solely to those directly concerned with treating the patients, however. Cpl. Albert Cox, Chicago, was dissatisfied with the regular army stoves for baking purposes. Cox, an experienced baker in civilian life designed and supervised the construction of a large brick oven, which turns out pies, cakes, and pastries without peer jungle-bound section world.
The G.I.'s are looking forward to their future in America and have taken up the voluntary savings plans offered by the Army. The pay allotment of the organization for savings and war bonds exceeds 75 per cent of their total wages. A large percentage of the group have enrolled in the many courses offered by the Armed Forces Institute.
Maj. Strickland, proud of the complete facilities his unit offers, remarked that the Dental Clinic compared favorably with those in the States and added jocularly, "Our magazines are even twice as old as those in dentist's offices back home.'
Head of the Clinic is Capt. George E. Marshall, Jamaica L.I, who, assisted by two enlisted men dental technicians, keeps an amazing number of teeth in biting order. Marshall performs dental surgery, impactions, and ordinary filling jobs, as well as producing 25 dentures monthly for G.I.'s troubled with too few molars.
In the ward area, some harmony drifted from a bamboo basha not unlike those around it. This was the Red Cross Club, managed by Negro Hospital Worker Bernice Grice, Omaha, Neb., who brings cheer and helps the white and colored recuperants while away dull hours, Impish and congenial, Miss Grice, a graduate of the University of Omaha and with a Master of Arts degree from Howard University, finds the job a pleasant challenge to help the men forget sickness and prepare them for soldiering duties.
"They're all babies," she commented, "Always teasing me". Bernice Grice provides special attention to neurotic cases usually giving them something constructive to do with their hands.
The Tagap Hospital is a model Army institution, but Dr. Strickland, its commanding officer, summed up the spirit of the task his Negro comrades face treating the men of the Stilwell Road, who brave injury and death as they rush war supplies to our Chinese allies. "We are not an unusual organization." Strickland modestly asserted, "We are well-trained American citizens who all happen to be colored. We are ready and able to do anything that comes within the scope of that training."
"To the majority of our personnel, the inauguration of this hospital represents the fulfillment of an ideal; an ideal that allows free men the opportunity to pursue their chosen occupations, regardless of race or creed. We are proud to have been chosen to serve our country in the capacities for which our training and talents best fit us."
JAILED VICE CZAR ASKS FOR RELEASE
NEW YORK-(ANS)-Sicilian born Charles (Lucky). Luciano, 47, convicted in 1936 of charges of forcing women into prostitution, appealed for a release from a 30-to-50 year prison term. Luciano asserted he gave the Army helpful information for the invasion of Sicily.