Back Issues of Proceedings Wanted by Navy Department Library

Per our friends at the Naval Historical Foundation, the Navy Department Library needs the following back issues of Proceedings Magazine for their collection:

April 2004

July 2005

December 2005

July 2008

December 2008

February 2009

January 2011

2 of all 2012 issues.

If you have any back issues you would like to donate, please contact our Executive Director Jim Dolbow at to make arrangements to gift them to the Library or feel free to leave a comment.

Please remember all gifts of back issues are tax deductible.  Thank you.

New Partnership with Navy Department Library Announced

Recently donated cruise books to the Navy Department Library by The Society for the History of Navy Medicine.

Recently donated cruise books to the Navy Department Library by The Society for the History of Navy Medicine.

As part of your Society’s efforts to preserve and protect navy medicine history, we recently donated 3 navy hospital ship cruise books and 1 non-fiction book to the Navy Department Library.

Founded in 1800 by direction of President John Adams, the Navy Department Library is one of the oldest federal government libraries. Its 150,000 volumes are the nation’s most highly concentrated and accessible collections of literature on the United States Navy.

The SANCTUARY’S and COMFORT’s cruise books filled holes in the Navy Department Library’s cruise book collection.

Thanks to our generous donors that made these gifts possible.  If you would like to support our program to acquire navy hospital ship books and epherma like Christmas dinner menus for the Navy Department Library, please click here.

The Grog, Issue 37, 2013 (A Journal of Navy Medical History and Culture)

The latest “ration” of The Grog, A Journal of Navy Medical History and Culture, is now online and can be found on our website here.

According to Andre Sobocinski, editor and historian, “In this edition, we look back at the U.S. Navy’s long history with sharks–from curious cases of shark attacks documented by Navy physicians to the development of “full-proof” repellents.  We follow this with an assortment of original stories and sidebars ranging from a look back on the life of a long-living World War II Prisoner of War and the service of Navy flight nurses in the Pacific and in Brazil to the recollection of Surgeon General Edward Stitt’s “Budget Battles” and a glimpse at the Navy Medical Department in 1963.

As always, we hope you enjoy this journey on the high seas of Navy Medicine’s past!”

eBook Program Update

You and I are half way towards our goal of $3,000 to convert 6 Navy Medicine History titles into eBooks in order to reach new generations of readers.  As you know from an earlier post on this blog,The Society for the History Of Navy Medicine has partnered with the Naval Institute Press to underwrite the conversion of the following Navy Medicine History books (many out of print) into eBooks:

Battle Station Sick Bay: Navy Medicine in World War II by Jan K. Herman

Navy Medicine Under Sail by Zachary B. Friedenberg

Ruff’s War: A Navy Nurse on the Frontline in Iraq by CDR Cheryl Lynne Ruff, USN (Ret.) and CDR K. Sue Rope, USN (Ret.)

Ship’s Doctor by CAPT Terrence Riley, Medical Corps, USN

Station Hospital Saigon: A Navy Nurse in Vietnam 1963-1964 by LCDR Bobbi Hovis, NC, USN (Ret.)

What a Way to Spend the War: Navy Nurse POWs in the Philippines by Dorothy Still Danner

Please consider an online gift today to our Society in order to convert these fabulous books into eBooks.  All gifts to our Society are 100% tax deductible.  Not a penny will be spent on overhead either!

If you prefer, you can send your gift through the U.S. Mail to us at:

Jim Dolbow
Executive Director
The Society for the History of Navy Medicine
PO Box 25128
Arlington, VA 22202

Thank you!

Homework Assignment: Navy Medicine History Bibliography

Note: This is a work in progress.  h/t Tranquility, Solace & Mercy and the Naval History & Heritage Command.

Please add suggestions in the comments section or email them to us at historyofnavymedicine (at)  Thank you.

Blochman, L.G. Doctor Squibb: The Life and Times of a Rugged Idealist. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1958

Braisted, William and William H. Bell. The Life Story of Presley Marion Rixey, 1902-1910: Biography and Autobiography. Strasburg, VA: Shenandoah Publishing House, 1930

Breeden, James O. “Military and Naval Medicine.” In A Guide to the Sources of United States Military History, edited by Robin Higham, 317-343. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1975.

—–Bibliographic essay. Continued in Supplement I to the Guide published by Archon in 1981 (79-87), and in Supplement II to the Guide published by Archon in 1986 (113-123).

Deppisch, Ludwig. The White House Physician: A History from Washington to George W. Bush. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2007

Duvall, Marius. A Navy Surgeon in California, 1846-1847: The Journal of Marius Duvall. John Howell Series on the U.S. Navy in Old California. Edited by Fred B. Duvall. San Francisco: John Howell, 1957. 114 pp.

Estes, J. Worth. Naval Surgeon: Life and Death at Sea in the Age of Sail. Canton, MA: Science History Publications, 1998

Fishbein, M. (Editor). Doctors at War. New York: Dutton, 1945.

Foltz, Charles S. Surgeon of the Seas. The Life of Surgeon General Jonathan M. Foltz. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1931

Goldowsky, Seebert J. Yankee Surgeon: the Life and Times of Usher Parsons, 1788-1868. Canton, MA: Science History Publications, 1988

Gordon, Maurice B. Naval and Maritime Medicine During the American Revolution. Ventnor, N.J.: Ventnor Pubs., 1978. 134 pp.

Gray, David P. Many Specialties, One Corps: A Pictorial History of the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps. Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company, 1997

Herman, Jan K. Battle Station Sick Bay: Navy Medicine in World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. 1997

Herman, Jan. K. Frozen in Memory: U.S. Navy Medicine in the Korean War., Inc, 2006

Herman, Jan K. Navy Medicine in Vietnam. Oral Histories from Dien Bien Phu to the Fall of Saigon. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2008

Hill, Jim Dan. The Civil War Sketchbook of Charles Ellery Stedman, Surgeon, United States Navy. New York: Presidio Press, 1976

Holcomb, Richmond C. A Century with Norfolk Naval Hospital, 1830-1930. Portsmouth, VA: Printcraft, 1930

Langley, Harold. A History of Medicine in the Early U.S. Navy. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1995

—–.”Edward Field: A Pioneer Practitioner of the Old Navy.” Connecticut Medicine 46 (November 1982): 667-72.

—–. “Medical Men of the Old Navy: A Study in the Development of a Profession, 1797-1833.” In New Aspects of Naval History: Selected Papers From the 5th Naval History Symposium, edited by the Department of History, U.S. Naval Academy, 69-80. Baltimore: Nautical & Aviation Pub. Co., 1985.

Massman, Emory A. Hospital Ships of World War II. An Illustrated Reference to 39 United States Military Vessels. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, 1999
Continue reading

Help bring Navy Medicine History into the Digital Age!

The Society for the History Of Navy Medicine is pleased to announce that it has partnered with the Naval Institute Press to underwrite the conversion of the following Navy Medicine History books (many out of print) into eBooks:

Battle Station Sick Bay: Navy Medicine in World War II by Jan K. Herman

Navy Medicine Under Sail by Zachary B. Friedenberg

Ruff’s War: A Navy Nurse on the Frontline in Iraq by CDR Cheryl Lynne Ruff, USN (Ret.) and CDR K. Sue Rope, USN (Ret.)

Ship’s Doctor by CAPT Terrence Riley, Medical Corps, USN

Station Hospital Saigon: A Navy Nurse in Vietnam 1963-1964 by LCDR Bobbi Hovis, NC, USN (Ret.)

What a Way to Spend the War: Navy Nurse POWs in the Philippines by Dorothy Still Danner

The good news is that we have the money to convert these books into eBooks to reach a new generations of readers. The BAD news is that it is in your pockets!

Please consider a gift today to our Society in order to convert these fabulous books into eBooks.  All gifts to our Society are 100% tax deductible.  Not a penny will be spent on overhead either!

Once you and I have reached our goal of $3,000, our Society will issue a check to the Naval Institute to begin converting these titles into eBooks.  This is a win win for both our Society and the Naval Institute! Be sure to forward this post to friends of navy medicine history.  Thank you!

“Captain, U S Navy, Departing”

Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder

With a shrill call of the bos’n’s pipe, a Naval officer is “piped over the side” – and departs.

Thus, it’s “Captain, U S Navy, departing” the Society for the History of Navy Medicine. I leave the Society in good hands. I look forward to its growing and flourishing under Jim Dolbow’s leadership. 

“I am ready to be relieved”

relieving the watch“I am ready to be relieved” – thus a Navy Officer of the Deck transfers authority, after his successor has intoned “I relieve you, sir.”

Six years ago, I launched the Society for the History of Navy Medicine at the prompting of Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery historian André Sobocinski. André’s enthusiastic support and guidance helped make the early navigation sure.

Three years later, in February 2010, I floated this blog as a means of promoting the Society and garnering it attention in a larger world. Given the narrow confines of our little corner of the world of history, I think the blog has done well: 155 posts, more than 31,575 views, and 12 –>18 –> 40+ average views a day. In fact, when you consider that the typical academic journal article – I read somewhere – gets an average of 3 readers total, we’ve done very well indeed!

But, come 25 April, the conn and the helm of this enterprise will pass to a new, young, energetic Executive Director, Jim Dolbow. Jim will introduce himself here and on the Society website in the near future.

It’s been a wonderful cruise!

The Society has grown to around 170 members from around the world. We’ve mounted academic panels – thanks both to enthusiastic writers and a wonderful panel of academics who’ve served as our Papers Selection Board* – at annual meetings of the American Association for the History of Medicine (of which the Society is a “Constituent Society”), the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS) and the biennial Naval Academy McMullen History Symposium. We founded a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity to receive our members’ voluntary dues. We use this money to fund a Graduate / Professional Student Travel Grant Program that pays students $750 to give papers that are accepted at our panels. Last year, we initiated a Graduate Student Research Grant Program† that will annually provide up to $1500 in support for research in the area of the history of navy or maritime medicine.

As for the blog, when I go back over those 155 postings, I think some of them are actually pretty darned good! One interesting thing, though: my “opinion pieces”, which are simply that – opinion – typically have gotten twice to thrice the readership of the “historical” ones – those that I really labored over, performing decent research and providing proper footnoting. I don’t know if this says more about our readership, or about my historical writing! In any case, I come away from the blogging endeavor  with a high respect for those professional writers who have to meet weekly – or worse, daily – deadlines. I felt the weekly demand quite literally sucking whatever waning creativity I had right out of my brain! I will be glad to knock these exertions down several notches!

So what does the future hold for a semi-salty old (I’ll be 70 on 25 April) doc?

A sprint, that’s what!

First, I’ll take my blogging – at a much more leisurely pace – to my personal website, What I really want to do is complete writing my history of the Naval Hospital at Mare Island. Other historical projects include the Navy’s World War II V-12 Medical Program of accelerated medical (degree in 3 years vice 4) training; and of the roughly 75 hospitals the Navy created “for the purpose” during World War II, most of which virtually instantly disappeared soon after the war’s end; and my personal favorite, a creative surgical solution for a naval person destined for great fame.

But there’s more! In April 2014, I will assume the mantle of President of the Albany Medical College Alumni Association for two years. I am the first from west of the Hudson River (conceptually, anyway!) so selected. This is my medical alma mater’s recognition that it now has a national reach, with roughly 40% of its graduates living and practicing in the west. First among my presidential projects will be to create a robust network of class liaisons in order to develop a tighter bond between our alumni and the medical school. Here’s my motivation: medical education is immensely expensive and medical schools need large endowments to fund scholarships, professorships, research and capital investment. True, Albany Med’s endowment has recently grown – due in large part to efforts of the marvelously gregarious but very quality-serious Dean Vince Verdile – to around $140 million. But contrast that with Stanford Med, for example, which draws on an endowment of ~$1.4 billion. A reasonable goal for Albany Med, I’m told, is in the range of $400 -500 million. From an Alumni Association point of view, that’s a big challenge. But in collaboration with Maura Mack-Hisgen and her crew in the Alumni Office, Dean Verdile, and Terri Cerveny and her Office of Development outfit, we shall continue to build by steps – with purpose…

Then, I’m queued to take – late in 2015 – a two-year assignment as the national leader of an ancient (by U. S. standards, anyway) naval historical establishment which shall remain nameless until my appointment is made official. Here, if confirmed, I aim to be “the historical leader”, promoting “public history”, or “historical outreach” to the larger community by members of this much smaller, focused, organization.

So, come 2018, after this extended but no doubt exciting deployment, I’ll be – well and truly – ready to settle down to read and write history!

One key point: I could not have done any of this without the completely selfless,  inspired, and even genius support of my sweetheart, the mother of my two fine sons, the love of my life, my very best friend and the center of my world – Gina Snyder.


* Our Papers Selection Board, since its inception, has benefited from the dedicated expertise of  Professor Annette Finley-Croswhite (Old Dominion University), Jan Herman (now-Emeritus Historian of the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery), and Professor Harry Langley (Emeritus, Catholic University; Emeritus Docent of the Navy Collection, Smithsonian Institution).

† Our Research Grant Selection Board members are Professors John Beeler (University of Alabama), Chris McKee (Emeritus, Grinnell) and Jennifer Telford (University of Connecticut)

©2013 Thomas L Snyder

Guest Blogger: Chaplain Dave Thompson on Non-Combat Casualties

Our blog-friend Chaplain Dave Thompson joins us for another post. This time, he writes about the matter of non-combat casualties of war since the Civil War.

As you are well aware, I have been trying to tell the story of disease in our wars…especially WW I ( The Great Flu Pandemic of 1918 in WW I), which cost more lives than combat in that conflict, For every American war before WW II, this largely was the case… death to disease trumped all combat deaths in these conflicts!.

In the Civil War a similar phenomenon of more deaths to disease than combat occurred (see: ). Of the 618,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War, 2/3rd’s of them died of disease (414,152) and only 1/3 died in combat (204,070).

Then there were an additional 24,866 soldiers who died in prison due to disease and mistreatment as POW’s by both Union and Confederate forces!Outside of McKinley Kantor’s Pulitzer Prize Winning novel of a Confederate POW camp in SW Georgia,  Andersonville (see: ), much of  the darker story of neglectful treatment of POW’s in the Civil War, on both the Union and Confederate sides, is rarely told today in general American History texts covering the 19th Century. See the Camp Sumter/Andersonville POW Prison story ( ), where 45,000 union POW’s were imprisoned (see: ), and where 13,000 died of a variety of diseases (see: ).

Andersonville’s decrepit conditions were chronicled in the diary on P.O.W Newell Burch. Burch of the 154th New York Infantry, was captured the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg and imprisoned at Belle Isle and then Andersonville. He is credited with being the longest held Union Soldier during the Civil War, a total of 661 days in Confederate hands ( His diary is currently possessed by the Minnesota Historical Society.

The breakdown of casualties to disease and battles was quite interesting. Again, the stunning statistics of disease in war (over 66% of Civil War soldiers died in bed not in battle) that is often airbrushed out of our American histories, only telling the “glory” side of war.  More Civil War soldiers died of dysentery and diarrhea alone (way over 200,000) than were killed in all the battles and battlefields of the Civil War. Yet, you don’t see that kind of detail dealing with sickness in Civil War museum exhibits or re-enactments of battles…no field hospitals are built in rear areas in these re-enactments, nor any effort made to tell the general public the story of disease that accounted for the deaths of 2/3 of all the Civil War deaths in the Union and Confederate Armies. Many Americans are ignorant of this fact as we near the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War.

The “other war” against disease in conflicts is the kind of military history that is not talked about a lot in our “battle-centric” telling of war stories. Fundamentally, I sense, especially among military historians a problem in methods of historiography which focuses on battles as the easiest and most interesting things to report in a conflict, as well as an easy way to add up winners and losers by territory conquered or numbers killed (KIA) or  wounded (WIA). Meanwhile, lurking in the background are less jazzy statistics, like death dealing diseases in rear area cantonments, that cumulatively would trump the numbers of any combat casualties of a particular battle, campaign, or war.

Thus, we often ignore this larger background story of disease in war that dismally claims massive numbers of victims by a 2-1 margin in rear area field and general hospitals and POW camps, because it may have little to do with a 2 or 3 day battle like the Battle of Gettysburg. Unless a disease struck in the middle of a battle (like the 1918 Flu Pandemic did at the height of the Meuse Argonne Campaign in WW I, where General Pershing’s AEF was being decimated by this malady that made so many troops ineffective in  that battle), little is ever said in the course of a war about the role of disease in a war (except that written by medical historians and buried in medical record archives of the Army and Navy). Only in long Civil War sieges like that of Vicksburg or St. Petersburg, or the discovery of terrible health conditions in POW camps, would reports of sickness creep into a battle history, and then only in a sentence or paragraph of historical commentary, before getting back to what really was interesting…the movement of the chess pieces of armies and stories of bravery of solders, marines or sailors in combat.

Yet at the end of the war, when you add all the casualties related to cause of  death, we are shocked to discover the overwhelming numbers of those who lost their lives to disease…and a fair minded person asks, “where did that come from?” This big under-reported story of disease during the progress of a war is often ignored in our battle-centric focus of war reporting and military history inquiry, causing this “end of war statistic” to jump out at us after the war is over… but the military histories have already been written excluding this stark fact.

This dismal and boring aspect of disease in war largely goes under-reported in war…just like the story of logistics in war…the thousands of logistics ships and convoy escort ships that kept our forces going for four years to Europe and across the Pacific in WW II (a really big story of one of the main reasons we won WW II, which was lost in the historical glitter and clutter of reporting only 2 day to a week battles at sea…at Midway, Coral Sea, the “Slot” off of Guadalcanal, and Philippine Sea…or the terrible Pacific Island campaigns fought by sailors and marines that each took several weeks to a month per island). My eyes were opened to this little told “boring” logistical history, when I served on the USS Sacrament (AOE-1) that kept a whole aircraft carrier battle group going in beans, bullets/bombs and ship and jet fuel and supplies and mail  for a deployment in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans (see: ). Wars and combat operations would grind to a halt in weeks without this logistical tail working well. Rarely is that story told in our histories.

You are then struck with the challenge of historiography…how we select what we report on and what we ignore in our telling of military history. My sense is disease has not been given equal billing…or at least paid its due, in many of our American war chronicles of military history. It would make a great topic at a convention of military historians…and hopefully the presenter would not be thrown out of the presentation room for pressing for better reporting of this often lost story of the “other war” with disease that goes on in every one of our conflicts. The diseases change from war to war, but the challenge remains: Today we still face the danger of a variant of the 1918 flu pandemic bug getting away for us with CDC estimates of 100 million casualties…or “super drug resistant bugs” that can overwhelm a military hospital full of wounded military personnel and kill through infection many servicemen in record time.

As a former Navy Fleet Hospital Chaplain for a 500 bed combat zone fleet hospital,  I am impressed with this side of war that a lot of chaplains in military hospitals, as well as military doctors, nurses and medics/corpsmen, see with great regularity. It is not the glory side of war, but the gory side of war…with field and general hospitals filled with wounded warriors and service personnel stricken with all manner of death dealing diseases, soon forgotten as the battle moves on…and the story quickly moves on to the next battle or campaign.

The big lesson of history in our wars is the critical role our military medical departments play in dealing with wounds of war and infectious and debilitating diseases of the battlefield that can swallow large portions of armies and navies over the course of a war. It is a cautionary tale to military leaders not to neglect paying attention to disease in war that easily can kill more service personnel than any combat they may encounter. The record of history is clear that to ignore the medical aspect of military operations is to traverse into a deadly kill zone at one’s own peril with often devastating consequences. Only as we report this “other war” against disease and it becomes part of our military histories and learning from past conflicts, will we remain vigilant and prepared to fund and support efforts to deal with future medical challenges of disease on the battlefield.

Well, I have waxed long on the topic of disease getting better billing in our military histories. You are welcome to float this topic at a convention of military historians, but I am not sure what kind of reception you will receive. The “glory story of war” bias is alive and well among many military historians who see reporting diseases during wars as a distraction from what really is important in military history…reporting battles, campaigns and politics of war.

All I would hope would happen is an act of inclusion of reporting on disease among military historians…not exclusion …not diminishing the acts of valor or sacrifices of combat…but including better reporting of the role of disease in war in keeping with the scope and dimension of the problem… in the larger sphere of military history reporting.

©2013 David Thompson

New Society Executive Director Named; More on History of Navy Medicine

Last April, the Society Executive Director (and your blogger-in-chief) announced that he would step down from these posts as of his 70th birthday, on 25 April 2013. In subsequent months, a few interested individuals held their collective breaths as we made a search for my successor. Then, happily, Jim_Dolbow stepped forward to take on the task. Jim has a long and abiding love of Navy history. He’s worked as a contractor for the Naval History and Heritage Command, where he built readership of their social media into the “tens of millions”, according to his former boss there. Jim is very well connected with the Naval historical establishment throughout Washington DC. He will bring new ideas and new energy – “new directions” (same former boss) – to the Society. Jim will officially take the Conn on 25 April 2013. Welcome aboard, Jim!


This week, I had the great good fortune to attend a lecture by Navy Surgeon General VADM Matthew Nathan at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco. When questioned about the effect of the prospective sequester on Navy medicine, he opined that combat casualty care and post-combat care will not be affected. What concerned him, he said, was that as we withdraw troops from Afghanistan, we risk forgetting the lessons that have made our efforts to save life and limb there so remarkably successful.

Somehow, I don’t think our combat surgeons and corpsmen will forget these lessons: trauma surgeons will continue to train in big city hospitals, where Friday and Saturday night “rod and gun club” (as we called it in Chicago when I trained there) activities will continue to simulate combat conditions for years to come. Navy Corpsmen, the “first responders” in the field of combat – the ones who are present in the “platinum fifteen minutes” and are so responsible for saving lives after combat injuries – will soon be trained as Emergency Medical Technicians. If the Navy is wise, it will arrange to have its trauma surgeons return regularly to big city hospitals for refresher training, and its corpsmen, if they are not actively practicing their EMT arts, to also refresh their skills, in our larger cities.

What I would worry about more, however, is that the Navy bureaucracy will forget these lessons of history, and through the passage of time in peace, navy medical doctrine – and logistics – will fall out of date. Budget cuts may mean archaic or non-functional CT scanners and outdated materials in those Medlog lockers. I submit that it should remain a high priority that a dedicated team of medical logisticians annually review our forward positioned medical supplies to make certain that they contain state-of-the-art equipment and supplies, and that trauma care doctrine is regularly updated to reflect the latest best practices in combat casualty care.

©2013 Thomas L Snyder


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