Monday, August 25, 2014
Doc was just another post-war Vietnam vet wandering around when I met him in Kodiak. Kodiak was full of them. He had been a Navy Corpsman attached to a Marine artillery battery somewhere and considered it a blessing because he said the artillerymen didn't get chewed up as bad as the grunts did.
Marines do not hand out the nickname 'Doc' to every corpsman that they get sent. It's earned. He must have been a damned good corpsman.
When I arrived at The Rock I had come from the dry air of Colorado. The dampness of the Rock with its heavy rainfall caught me unawares and shortly after arrival I caught a nasty upper respiratory infection that knocked me on my ass.
A new arrival to town, housing was scarce and I was living in a tent. So were an awful lot of other people.
A newly found friend of mine known as The Doctor (for other reasons) knew Doc (They are two seperate people) and they set me up in the bed of a pickup covered with a tarp as a place to recover. Doc scored antibiotics from the boat's medical kit and between Doc and The Doctor I was up and running in about three days.
Doc isn't remembered for this. It is a simple comment he made later on that summer. I had laid myself open with a gutting knife and had patched myself up.
Doc happened by, took one look at the fresh wound and said he could do better than that and took me back to the boat he was working on. He sewed me up professionally with a suture kit out of the boat's medical box.
It should be noted that his medical training consisted of 12 weeks of Navy training and a year of practical experience in Vietnam.
While he was sewing me up I looked at him and told him they'd throw his ass in jail if they caught him practicing medicine without a license.
He stopped, grinned and looked up at me.
"I will never let something so trivial as state, federal and local laws keep me from doing the right thing," he said.
That comment has stayed with me all these years. I took it to heart.
The following year Doc returned to school and became a Physician's Assistant and word had it he wound up in a native village somewhere in Alaska.