From the transcript of the 59th Evacuation Hospital’s Second Anniversary Party
Between each course Wally had something to present — a talk, a presentation, etc. Wally pulled out a large official-looking envelope that had “Secret” written in large letters on the outside and he asked Ralph Cressman to read it aloud. Inside the envelope was a letter addressed to the 59th. The heading said “Super-Secret! Equals British Horse-shit!” In the body of the letter was a commendation for the wonderful actions of the 59th in the rear of the African, Tunisian and Sicilian campaigns. In view of the good work by the 59th a resounding “Brrrrrppppp” was awarded. Letter signed by F.D.R. On the bottom was “1st Endorsement” by our higher headquarters, the endorsement reading: “Brrrrrppppp, Brrrrrppppp.” (Explanation of the “secret” business — official papers come with “Secret! Equals British Confidential” all the time.)
At another intermission Wally ribbed Frank Gerbode and Bob Escamilla by allowing them to unveil the portraits that they had made for posterity — to be hung in the UC and Stanford halls. Their portraits, of course, strangely enough, resembled Hirohito and Hitler with a faint resemblance to Frank and Bob. You see, these two felt that they should have something of the sort for posterity to remember their great-selves, and as a consequence they did have portraits made of themselves. The actual portraits cost them about $30 and are a little larger than the size of a piece of typing paper. There is a resemblance between the portraits and themselves, but not too much. If it weren’t for the uniform and the gold leaves to further identify them, the resemblance would be considerably less.
There was a presentation of three medals to Bret Smart for his constant bitching, “The Royal Order of the Bitch” — a fancy ribbon with the large head of a female bull-dog hanging from the ribbon. To Gus Stola, the “Order of the Purple Fart.” To Jack Dunlap, for his outstanding inactivity, the “Order of the Dragging Ass” — a ribbon with appropriate donkey hanging from it.
Wally thanked the meal committee and said he anticipates having our celebration in ’45 in Vienna, in ’46 in Burma, in ’47 in Tokyo, and in ’48 anticipate going back through the Golden Gate to take the United States back from the Democrats.
Wally reviewed the history of the 59th from the time it began in Ft. Lewis up to the present date, and at various points in the history he asked different men to make short dissertations on the particular subject to which he referred. Those that did not dissert adequately to the satisfaction of all, had to suffer the consequences and draw a slip of paper out of a hat and then do just what the slip of paper told them to do.
This is how it went:
Two years ago did you use such phrases as “Sweat it out,” or “Blow it out”? Did you know the meaning of “Nervous in the Service”? Did you know what it meant to hurry up and wait”?
Well, neither did 40 upright, young, and not too bright suckers who, after being had by chain-store haberdashers and sold a lot of uniforms and equipment which nauseated even the moths, finally arrived in various stages of military dress and undress at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Col. Reilly — Front and Center!!
There were many things to be learned, not the least of which were which hand to use for saluting or buttoning one’s trousers, which side to dress on, how to have a bowel movement by the numbers, while at the same time polishing brass with one hand and shaving with the other. Also, where to hide a blond during Saturday morning inspections or some of the things that were part of the daily routine and commonly known as the Manual of Arms and Close Order Drill.
Col. Reilly, will you, without further delay, go through the Manual of Arms and conduct two minutes of snappy close order drill with Maj. Cressman and Capt. Klein as your detail. You are to instruct them in soldierly fashion if they make any errors.
[Reilly was booed and had to dance two minutes of the Conga by himself. His Conga turned out to be more of a jig — but he was anyway awarded a reward for his efforts — one slug of Cherry Brandy.]
746 salutes and 1050 miles later found the Fighting 59th at Fort Ord, Calif. There, after an intensive training period of hot dogs, beer, and bathing beauties at the Del Monte Hotel, we became identified as part of an amphibious force — probably because we were all wet to start with. At any rate, some of our members polished up their technique of frontal assault.
Capt. Kuzell — Front & Center!!
A few of our members were fortunate enough to be allowed to carry on some operations with plenty of maneuvers in the Vitamin plus California desert. Some special research was carried on during that time and Capt. Kuzell is perhaps best suited to review that work. He is now to give us a two minutes resume on his desert experience with “Widow Bites to the Genitalia.”
[He took the consequences too, but I’ve forgotten right now what they were.]
Early in August, we entrained, went to Camp Kilmer via Salinas, and detrained on a cool Sunday morning. While the band played “Just Before the Battle, Mother,” we boarded luxurious buses, fighting off orderlies who tried to carry our luggage. We found that we were to be billeted in modernistic pastel-colored, air-conditioned barracks. After getting the mosquitoes out and on their way to the nearest landing field, we proceeded to figure out a schedule so that we could spend at least 1% of our time at Kilmer while doing most of our work in New York City.
Capt. Williams — Front and Center!!
Train itineraries had to be planned and one of the most ingenious was that dreamed up by Capt. Rip Van Williams who is now to discuss for two minutes “The Longest Distance Between Two Points,” or “From N.Y. to Kilmer via Philadelphia.”
[One night Hal was on his way back from N.Y. with Chappie (Captain Chappell) & Cy Kiernan. They were in Penn. Station waiting for a train, and having missed all the pre-midnight trains, they fell asleep on the benches. When Chappie awakened he found that Hal was missing. Anyway, Hal had partially awakened at some time during the night and, hearing the call for “all aboard” he boarded and proceeded to fall asleep almost as soon as he was seated. The next thing he knew, he was just awakening in Philadelphia, finding himself with his head nicely perched on the shoulder of a good-looking blonde. He was flat broke, as Chappie had the money (having bought the tickets before they fell asleep), so the gal bought him breakfast in Philadelphia and loaned him money to get back to Kilmer. Not only that, but when he returned we found he even had her picture with him.]
After eight weeks at Camp Pickett those who hadn’t fallen through the cracks in the floors of the barracks looked like smoked Virginia hams as a result of the smoking stoves. The entire Feeble and Frustrated 59th was glad to leave in November for an invasion of Stelton, New Jersey.
Capt. Russell — Front and Center!!
The rail trip afforded a great many pleasures, the greatest of which was the opportunity to use the new modernistic water closets on the train. These had the advantages of a combined shower and an up-draft toilet seat with double-action slip-stream. Capt. Russell, will you (as an expert) discuss for two minutes your convictions on “Voiding on the Reading.”
After a short stay in Kilmer, interspersed by two blondes, a red-head, four alerts, a dry run, and a few “Old Fashioneds,” we began a trip overseas.
Captain Armanini — Front and Center!!
The trip was uneventful, although Torpedo Armanini’s anal mucosa suffered as a result of his continual thinking and dreaming of submarines. He is therefore more than able to give us a two minute treatise on “Across the Ocean by Stool.”
[Armanini had been razed for the name that he acquired on the trip: Torpedo Armanini. He was somewhat more fearful than the rest of us of seeing one of those flying fish.]
After many days we arrived in Casablanca. Our arrival was heralded by the braying of asses and by great clouds of camel dung plus the chant of the East, “Bon Bone, Shewn Gum, Smuck!” All visions of oriental splendor in North Africa disappeared after spending a night using cow-chips for pillows and sleeping in the hay, although some of our members had slept in haystacks before — but never alone.
As soon as the “Nasties” learned that the Fouled-Up 59th was there they sent a fleet of bombers to disrupt communications between the various desks in the Headquarters Tent.
Maj. Chappell — Front and Center!!
One of our officers was the first to get outside the tents and start hurling invectives at the enemy. One of the planes flew so low that he was burned by the exhaust. At this time we want Maj. “Retread” Chappell to give us a three minute talk on “Identification of and Appropriate Names for Enemy Aircraft.”
Maj. Collie — Front and Center!!
During our stay there was a time when everything we ate turned into fecal material and there were a lot of theories as to its cause. Maj. Collie was one of the proponents of the Atabrine theory. We would like for him to talk for three minutes on “It Ain’t Diarrhea, It’s Atabrine.”
We soon found it was necessary to learn how to deal with the Arabs.
Capt. Carlson — Front and Center!!
One of our officers at that time, who was known as a Gentleman Gambler and who has recently turned truck-driver, soon learned the art of double-crossing the double-crossers doing the double-crossing, and soon the Arabs were leaving even their fleas at home for fear of losing them. Capt. Carlson, you are to discuss for three minutes with gestures, “The Art of Getting the Least for the Most Money.”
Finally in July 1943 it came time for the 59th to move again. By this time it had gained the reputation of being the most mobile Evac. Hospital in the cemetery region of Casablanca, owing to our stream-lined, self-propelled boxes. Therefore it was no trick at all to get to Tunisia with the aid of 500 boxcars, 137 ten-ton trucks, 150 camels, and 180 litter-bearers.
Capt. Schmitz — Front and Center!!
One of the more intrepid adventurers on this trek across Africa was Dr. Livingston Schmitz — a well-known firearms and tool specialist, who had some interesting experiences with a Wesson revolver en route. At this time we would like to hear a three-minute discourse on “The Cock of a Pistol.”
[Schmitty was asked to tell about an incident that I had never heard of before. It seems that at one of the stops Schmitty induced Armanini to visit the latrine with him as it was rather dark and the latrine was some little distance from where the boys had their sleeping bags, the trucks. etc. So, while sitting there, having no library to fall back on, Schmitty was talking about revolvers and pulled out a ’38. He began to tell George what a really safe revolver that gun was for, he said, when you load it you leave one chamber empty and then you have to pull the trigger twice before it will shoot. Saying which, he proceeded to pull the trigger once causing poor Armanini to almost leave his perch sans pants. It surprised Schmitty just as much as it did George — luckily he did have it pointing in the air. So that was the “safe ’38.”
After a few days in Tunisia we set sail for Sicily, finally arriving in two echelons. In order to confuse the enemy, the advance party arrived five days later. Owing to the fertility of the not too virgin native soil, it was soon seen that the V.D. Stockade was going to do more business than the average medicine show. At this time, Capt. Westdahl and Capt. Drew are to give us some idea as to what gives in the V.D. Stockade, entitled: the “Trials and Tribulations of the V.D. Officer.”
[This was a skit put on by Bill Drew and Phil Westdahl (as Dr. & Patient respectively) showing the trials and tribulations of getting a history on a V.D. patient. In the skit they ribbed Carlson for some of the patients he has sent in, and then, at the end when the patient was showing his “discharge” Phil had a rubber ear syringe filled with cream that he squirted in Drew’s face — finale!!]
Well, that’s just about it. In evaluating the work done by the 59th so far in this War, Winston Churchill said it in his last speech, “Never before have so few owed so little to so many.” As to where we will go from here, who can tell? In conclusion, let us all join in singing several verses from that touching old ballad: Where Do We Go From Here?”