Christmas `43

      I was a Navy corpsman attached to the fleet marines. We were replacements for the1st Division after Guadalcanal. The year was 1943.

      In early 1943 we set sail from SFO on The Seawitch a converted troop ship and headed for the South Pacific dragging a PT boat behind for "protection".

      On the troop (converted liberty) ship going across the Pacific a lot of the sailors and marines were putting rings in their ears. So some lieutenant decided that if they were going to do that, the corpsman better do it so no one gets infection. I sat with a little vial of ethyl alcohol a needle and some white threat and these guys stood in line. I told them to rub the ear lobe they wanted punctured while in line. Then I'd take the needle with thread soaked in the alcohol, push it through their ear lobe and leave the thread in there telling them to draw the thread back and forth about every 15 minutes. It was kind of fun because it was so boring on that ship, wearing life vests all the time, eating two meals a day standing up, and not seeing land for 47 days when we finally landed at Cairns, Australia.

      It took 47days to arrive at Cairns Australia where we disembarked the Seawitch and took an LST to New Guinea.

      I best remember Christmas Day 1943. I was a young Navy corpsman attached to the marines. The next morn we were slogging into Cape Gloucester on New Britain just off New Guinea. The war ended for me here. I was flown to a Navy Hospital in Brisbane and later on home. I'll never forget that landing, but history already has.

----- Earl Cook ex-PhM3/c


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