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

Dr. William W. Lusk, Battalion Beach Doctor, USS Leon (Pt. 1)

This past Spring I had the good fortune to locate and meet the Lusk family from the Carlinville, IL, area. Their Dad was Dr. William Lusk. Dr. Lusk was a physician who earned his medical degree in 1936 from Rush Medical School in Chicago. He and his wife, La Verne, looked around the Midwest for a community that needed a doctor… and they ended up in Carlinville. Except for time off while he served in WWII, Dr. Lusk became a proverbial country doctor, practicing in Carlinville until his retirement.

I  was thrilled to learn this story, because I knew of Dr. Lusk as a surgeon and a senior medical staff member aboard the attack transport USS Leon APA 48. According to Navy records, that senior medical team included:

  • Dr. Richard L. Pearse, Lieut. Commander, Sr. Medical Officer
  • Dr. Arnold W. Friedman, Lieut. (jg), Jr. Medical Officer
  • Dr. Gerald S. Almond, Lieut., Dental Officer
  • Dr. William W. Lusk, Lieut., Battalion Bach Doctor.

I had learned that Dr. Lusk was the Battalion Beach Doctor on Blue Beach 2 during the amphibious assault at Saipan, June 15, 1944. He and his eight corpsmen treated wounded Marines, sailors, and soldiers at the beach aid station day and night for two and one-half days under unrelenting mortar and artillery fire. He also triaged on the beach, diagnosing the wounded and prioritizing patient transfers to the Leon for advanced care.

One of the men he probably examined and treated on D day was the Leon’s Boat Group Commander, Lt. (jg) Joe McDevitt, my Dad.

Here’s the great news: the Lusk family shared some fabulous pictures with us, including pictures of Dr. Lusk and those young corpsmen who served during five amphibious assaults in the Pacific. We are touching up those pictures now; we can’t wait to show them to you. But the picture below is the one we always ask for first: a portrait in uniform.

This picture was probably taken after Dr. Lusk completed his medical training program with the Navy and was appointed Lieutenant in the U. S. Navy.

Dr_William_Lusk (002) enhanced

Lt. William W. Lusk, Battalion Beach Doctor, USS Leon

Here’s a hero!


Source: Lusk Family Album

Meet Five More Sailors From the USS Leon

Thanks to the family of Irwin Goldstein, we now have pictures of five more sailors who served in the Pacific during WWII. As always, if you recognize names or pictures of one or more of the young men below, please contact us!

S1c Irwin Goldstein was a member of the boat group aboard the attack transport USS Leon. Fortunately for all of us, Irwin took lots of pictures of his buddies when they were on leave from April 1944 through January 1946. (Most of his buddies—though not all—were members of Leon’s boat group.) Then Irwin did the most wonderful thing… he put names on the pictures and saved them for us!!

Irwin’s family has shared those pictures with us, and we have confirmed the identities of a group of those sailors as crewmen of the Leon. Here are five more of those handsome young men who served hard duty in the Pacific.

Al Kraft

This is S1c Albert P. Kraft from Amherst NY. The other three members of Al’s boat crew were Frank F. Usefara, Albert T. Kauffman, and Raymond A. McClary. Their supervising officer was Ensign Leon S. Eckman.

Anthony Visconti

Meet S1c Anthony A. Visconti. Anthony’s boat crew also included Gilbert R. Ward, William H. Vieau, and Henry V. Mayer. Commanding officer: Ensign Alton R. Swift.

Ed Baker

Here is S1c Edward Baker from Chicago IL. Ed served with Dorries J. Byars, Edward O. Cathcart, and Emmitt N. Droll. Ensign Paul S. Kemner was their direct superior.

Ernest Johnson, Coxswain

This is Ernest M. Johnson from North Adams MA. He served with J.C. Biesterveld, Harold O. Hausrath, and Gerald E. Dreaver under Ensign Paul S. Kemner.

Farrell Thomas J (2)

The last shipmate is S1c Thomas J. Farrell, address unknown. Ensign Sam Seidel supervised Thomas and his crewmates: John Frederick, Edwin G. Howell, and Raymond J. Manley.

These men trained together with the rest of Leon’s crew to perform the key mission of the amphibious forces: Putting the boots on the beaches… Any beach, any time!