U S Naval Hospital Sampson NY

Your editor is traveling in upstate New York this week. On my itinerary: the site of the WW II Naval Hospital at Sampson, NY.

Naval Hospital Sampson was established to support a huge Naval Training Center that sprung into existence on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, which lies roughly in the center of a handful of lakes

Finger Lakes of New York State--Seneca Lake is at the Center

lying just to the south of Rochester and Syracuse. This training center, like its partner in Farragut Idaho, came into being, some historians have it, because Navy officials and President Roosevelt wished to have facilities located away from our coastlines in event of invasion.

Construction on the 2500 acre site began in May 1942 and took just 270 days. The first recruits arrived as construction entered its final stages. The Training Center, designed to train 2000 recruits at a time indoctrinated more than 400,000 recruits in the Navy way during its roughly two year existence.

Work clearing the site for the 1500 bed hospital began in June 1942, and the hospital saw its first admissions–sick corpsmen–in January 1943; it was officially commissioned by Captain Claude W Carr, MC, USN, on 27 February 1943. Included in its medical staff was orthopedist Lt Commander Mal Stevens, former football coach at Yale and New York University.

Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class Harold Dietz, Naval Hospital, Sampson, NY 1945

The hospital was well utilized from its opening, but the patient census reached a peak of around 2100 at the end of August 1945. The hospital medical service cared for large numbers of infectious diseases among trainees, the new antibiotic penicillin being used to cure several hundred cases of pneumonia. The surgical service was a busy one: Navy surgeons performed more than 1800 operations in 1943, and as many in the first 8 months of 1945. Hernia repair was the most common surgical procedure performed, with appendicitis being the most common acute surgical condition.

In early 1945, with the end of the war in sight, training center activity began to slow, and the number of recruits admitted decreased. The hospital was now caring for an increasing number of war injured patients, and, beginning in January 1945, tuberculosis patients. The Tuberculosis Service peaked out at around 1000 patients, and the Tuberculosis Service boasted a staff of nine TB specialists including chest surgeons, bronchoscopists and internists.

With the end of the war, most patients wanted to move to hospitals closer to home. This exodus resulted in hospital closure on 1 July 1946. It experienced a brief renaissance during the Korean conflict, but then closed forever.

With the support of several veterans’ groups, the site of the former hospital will become the site of the Sampson Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery, which will offer a final and peaceful resting place overlooking the lovely eastern shore of Seneca Lake.

Updated 24 December 2011

©2011 Thomas L Snyder

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  • Wallace Rust  On 15 Nov 2010 at 05:59

    I was delighted to find your page on Sampson Naval Hospital because I was on the staff there from April 1945 to July 1946. Various numbers are reported for the number of beds, probably because of the 44 wards, some had single beds and others had double-decker beds.

    I served in several wards, plus the laboratory. It was a great experience!

  • Rick Connors  On 24 Nov 2010 at 04:42

    Mr. Rust, my name is Rick Connors, I am the president of the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery currently being constructed on the old Sampson Hospital site. I was wondering if you are a member of any Sampson Veterans organization or group, we are trying to locate any staff members or veterans that served at the Hospital. We would like to invite all staff and veteran hospital workers to the opening dedication ceremony for the new Veterans Cemetery on the old Sampson hospital site. May 21, 2011 (Armed Forces Day) Any information you can provide on the service members or organization connected to the Hospital would be appreciated. Also if you go on to our web site (sampsonveteransmemorialcemetery.com) and go to the media site, you will find both the Navy link and the Air Force link. If you need more information or would like to share information, please call me at any time Rick (315-568-4155) Thank You Rick

  • Wallace Rust  On 07 Jan 2011 at 06:14


    Thank you for the invitation to the ceremony on 21 May 2011 at the Sampson USNH site. I served on the hospital staff from April 1945 to July 1946.

    I do not know at this point if I will attend.

    Wallace Rust

  • Barton R. Earl  On 29 Apr 2012 at 21:06

    I went through boot camp in April of 1945. Our company was
    Farragut 477. After leaving the outgoing unit, I was sent to San Diego to become a Navy Medic. As the war with Japan came to an end I was transferred back to the Navel Hospital in Sampson New York. Thence I was transferred to Lido Beach where I served until they decommissioned that base. Then I was transferred to St. Albans Navel Hospital. A lot of the staff and tuberculosis patients from Sampson Navel Hospital were transferred to St. Albans Hospital. I was discharged November 1946.
    I would like to locate some of the guys I worked with and was stationed with. Please email me at: brtn_earl@yahoo.com
    I will look forward to hearing from you.
    Barton R. Earl- Pharmacist Mate Third Class

  • Jeffrey R Dawson, PhD  On 10 Jan 2017 at 15:33

    I have a painting of white blood cells that hung in this hospital. May I receive a copy of this article to include with the painting? I am donating it to the Dept of Immunology at Duke University. Many thanks.

    • thomaslsnyder  On 10 Jan 2017 at 21:08

      Dr Dawson,

      By all means, copy the piece and format it as you see fit, but please attribute appropriately.

      I must say, I wish you could donate the painting to the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s Office of the Historian. They have a small but growing – and well curated and archivlly protected collection – of naval medicine memorabilia, documents and ephemera.

      Please let me know if Incan help you with anything.

      With best wishes,

      Tom Snyder

  • Nicholas J. Valhos  On 07 Aug 2017 at 17:26

    My name is Nicholas J. Valhos, and I was born at Sampson Naval Hospital on August 13, 1945 as my dad was station there until August of 1946. He was a 1st Class Baker & Cook. He was injuried at the Battle of Coral Sea on board the USS Yorktown CV-5 and survivor of the Yorktown when it was sunk at Midway. I’m looking for some photos of the Naval Hospital during that time period or any at all. My email is: Navycod@aol.com

    LCDR (Ret)

    • thomaslsnyder  On 30 Aug 2017 at 02:56

      LCDR Valhos,
      So sorry for the delay in reply. I found your post buried deep in my inbox. I apologize.
      I think the best source for images of Naval Hospital Sampson can be found in the photographic section of the National Archives in College Park MD. I don’t think any of them are digitized, so you would have to make a trip there in person. Another source is a Sampson website http://www.rpadden.com/sampson.htm maintained by Russ Padden. About the only structures remaining on the old training center is the brig, now used for a small but decent museum. The former base is also home now to a New York State-operated Veterans’ Cemetery.
      I’ll check my files and send you any image I may have.
      With best wishes,
      Tom Snyder

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