Dr. William W. Lusk, Battalion Beach Doctor, USS Leon APA 48 (Pt. 3)

In this final post featuring Dr. William W. Lusk, we include three additional pictures from the Lusk Collection. We were terrifically excited to receive—and are anxious to share—these pictures which introduce Dr. Lusk’s  corpsmen. We’re saving history one story at a time here!

The first two pictures were taken at the assault on Leyte in the Philippines, beginning October 20, 1944. The sad news is the pictures include only four of the corpsmen. But the good news is that Dr. Lusk identified the corpsmen by name and confirmed the location (Leyte) and approximate date.

Lusk W Corpsmen

Dr. William Lusk and four of his beach medical team


My, don’t these five men look proud to be together? In particular, Dr. Lusk appears as proud and close to his young men as an officer could be. (One rarely sees a picture of an officer with his arms around his enlisted men.) That feeling of respect (and more) seems shared by corpsmen Boches, Boyette, Bjork, and Alexander. To us, this has the feeling of a family picture rather than a combat unit.

We also sense a certain professional confidence among these men. They had experienced two assaults by this time. They (and their peers across the Pacific) were why for every 100 navy and marine personnel wounded in WWII, 97 recovered.

The second picture was taken at the same location and with the same five men.

Lusk Corpsmen (2) enhanced

Our impressions from studying these pictures: All of the men are in full combat dress. (Our guess would be these pictures were taken before the team went over the side on D + 2 day at Leyte.) Note the white circles on the helmets and uniform shoulders. The Japanese penchant for shooting medical personnel was by then well-known; white circles were considered a less conspicuous means for identifying medical help.

All are wearing/carrying helmets, Dr. Lusk’s being cloth-covered. All are carrying medical pouches hanging from a thin chest strap. Bjork’s and Alexander’s pouches hang in front on their left hips; all the rest hang in back. Dr. Lusk appears to be carrying two pouches.

Each man wears a web belt from which hang small marine first aid packs, possibly a snake bite kit, and a holster. The thick chest straps carry canteens and a shovel on the back side.

The last photograph is a fabulous picture of the entire beach medical team. We do not know where or when this picture was taken, though we believe it is the earliest photo. Regrettably, the remaining team members aren’t identified.

Based on the two pictures above, we think the men in the back row are (left to right): unknown, unknown, Alexander, Dr. Lusk, Boches, Printy Arthur, unknown.

The front row includes: Boyette and Bjork


Battalion Medical Team enhanced

Dr. William Lusk and his beach medical team


In a famous speech widely reported after the war’s end, Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal proclaimed:

“The Hospital Corpsmen saved lives on all beaches that the Marines stormed… You corpsmen performed foxhole surgery while shell fragments clipped your clothing, shattered the plasma bottles from which you poured new life into the wounded…”

They were heroes. Ask a marine or soldier.

Now, we have three corpsmen in the back row whom we are unable to identify. We have four other corpsmen for whom we only have last names. If any of those men is your Dad, your uncle, your grandpa, please contact us!


Lusk Family Collection


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