Last updated on August 15, 2006
In November of ’43 I became very ill. I went to the “sick bay” and because I had 104° temperature they put me in the hospital. Well, it was actually a quonset hut but they called it a hospital. They had two doctors. The older one was a gynecologist in civilian life. Then there was this young dude fresh out of Harvard Med. School. The young doctor thought I had meningitis and performed a spinal tap. You guessed it — I had cerebrospinal meningitis. I was in bed for three weeks on sulfa diazine pills. When I was in the hospital three troop transport ships came into Attu harbor to carry the Army 7th Division to the States for Xmas leave. I later found out that because I had the meningitis, and they didn’t know how many others might be infected, they sent the ships out — empty. When I was declared cured the Navy put me in an ambulance and took me to the Army Hospital for examination. Those Army doctors said to me “So you are the son of a bitch that kept us from going home.” I have often fantasized about going to a 7th Division reunion and telling them that I was the reason they never got home then. This Army division was kept on Attu for awhile and then to Hawaii where they got ready to invade Okinawa. I guess you can say I was a spoil sport. No, there were no more cases of meningitis on Attu. Might add that I got a special visit from the censorship office telling me that I could not write home and tell them I had meningitis. I told them [his parents] that I had the same problem that Dad had in France in WWI. They [the censors] never caught it. I should add that my dad was one of only two that survived the meningitis in France. The other man was from Little Rock [Arkansas]. They exchanged Xmas cards for many years. When I was in the hospital we had about 3 air raids. They couldn’t move me to the air raid shelter — I might contaminate the other patients. Luckily the planes bombed other places far away from the hospital.