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October 1, 1997

Battle Station Sick Bay: Navy Medicine in World War II

Author Affiliations

Naval Hospital Pensacola, Fla

JAMA. 1997;278(13):1124. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550130098051

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Jan K. Herman has performed a valuable service to the nation in gathering numerous first-person accounts by veterans of their experiences in Navy medicine during World War II. These nurses, doctors, corpsmen, and others associated with Navy medicine are now aged, many deceased. Without Mr Herman's efforts, many of these narratives would have been lost forever.

Herman has been historian of the Navy Medical Department since 1980 and edits its journal Navy Medicine, where some of these stories first appeared. He is also the curator of the old US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, where the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery is headquartered.

In the preface, Herman tells how in 1985 he heard the story of a young Navy pharmacist's mate, as enlisted corpsmen were called during WWII, who, in the absence of a qualified surgeon, performed an appendectomy using make-shift instruments aboard a submarine in the Pacific.