A Look Back

Naval Hygiene in the Age of Epidemics

By André B. Sobocinski, Historian, BUMED *** The Navy’s South Atlantic Squadron arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1894 just as a deadly disease epidemic hit the city.   To protect the crews, the shipboard surgeons—immersed in the principles of naval hygiene—issued a series of strict sanitary guidelines.  For months the Squadron remained in port and yet almost entirely free of …

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The Navy’s Fight against Scurvy

By André B. Sobocinski, Historian, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Scurvy patient, ca 1842. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine Few diseases have been more synonymous with sailors than scurvy.   From the dawn of time scurvy has been described as the “Black Death of the sea,” and was once even as deadly as smallpox. Yet years after the British …

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Beyond Heroism: Hospital Corpsmen and the Battle for Iwo Jima

By André B. Sobocinski, Historian, US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Arthur C. Clayton administers a blood plasma injection to a wounded Leatherneck, Feb 1945. At 0900 on February 19th, 1945, the first assault waves from the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions hit the beaches of Iwo Jima.[i]  Embedded within these units were corpsmen like Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class …

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Sacrifice at Fort Fisher, 15 January 1865

By André B. Sobocinski, Navy Medicine Historian In January 1865, Union forces embarked on what was then the largest U.S.-led amphibious operation in history.  Their target was a colossal fort strategically located on a peninsula jutting from the Confederate seaport of Wilmington, N.C.  Its name was Fort Fisher. Naval Brigade attacking Fort Fisher, January 15, 1865. The operations in January …

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Witness to Pearl Harbor: USS Solace

By André B. Sobocinski, Historian, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery USS Solace 0755, Sunday, December 7th, 1941.  Pearl Harbor, T.H.  A group of physicians eating breakfast in the wardroom of the hospital ship USS Solace (AH-5) become startled when several explosions were heard.  As the ship began to vibrate the impression that an earthquake had hit soon shifted …

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