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Postoak - Marine

R. E. Sullivan, Colonel, USMC ('43/'67) (Ret.)

I fought as an infantryman in three wars, the North China Campaign, attended at least ten bullfights, and Lord knows how many cock fights and goat roundups, seen thousands of wounds and had a few myself, but the strangest wound I ever saw happened during the Korean War.

I want you to look at this picture. There. Do you see that young Marine at the top right of the picture, the Indian looking kid? I think that's him. Am I sure? No, but it is either the same Marine or his twin brother.

Let me tell you the story.

I had acquired my second wound on August 10th and come through the Army chain of evacuation, where I received wonderful care. Army nurses are the best and far outdo their sisters in the Navy in my humble opinion. The Army even arranged transportation for me to Japan on the Danish Hospital Ship Jutlandia.

Wow, talk about luxury, I even had my own stateroom. I also had the best looking blood technician God ever put on the face of this earth. Young, sweet, blonde, slim, gorgeous....but she also was the lady who did the blood smears each morning. I do believe I'd take a beating before I'd voluntarily let anyone do a blood smear on me. But that young lady did, every morning, and I must say that by the time we reached Yokohama and was stretchered off I was damned glad to get back on dry land again. And who should be waiting for the Marine passengers but a bunch of Navy ambulances from the base at Yokosuka. The Naval Service had reclaimed its own. So away we went.

At that time Yokosuka was not yet a hospital. It was a Naval Dispensary with 80 beds, split about down the middle between maternity and VD cases. The last time I saw the place was in December of '50, and it had some 7,000 patients most of whom had just come out of the fighting at the Chosin Reservoir. But that's another story. Well, anyway, it took the Dispensary a while to become a hospital and there was a certain amount of inevitable confusion while all this was going on.

It was the practice among Marine Officers as soon as they were ambulatory to make the rounds of the enlisted wards to chat up the troops and make it apparent that we were concerned for their welfare. On occasion we'd expedite certain administrative details for them and serve as a buffer with hospital personnel. I guess I got my wheels back about the same time the first batch of casualties from the First Battle of the Naktong began to dribble in. That would have made it about August 20th.One of the Marines I met that day I believe was probably the Marine in the picture I indicated earlier.

He was sitting upright in his bed as solid and stolid as a block of granite. I noted that he had on a half body cast with his right arm raised at a 90 degree angle from his body. When he spoke to me his voice was so hoarse and low that I had a hard time understanding him. I glanced down at his Bed Card and read the name there: Postoak. I thought to myself that this lad was indeed aptly named. Then, curious, I looked at what he was being treated for.

His card indicated that he had a broken right collarbone, chipped teeth and an exit wound, right armpit. Now wait just a minute here. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if there is an exit wound there must be an entrance wound. Where was that entrance wound? Looking at him more closely I noted that Postoak also had a very dark blue mark the size of a dime at the juncture of the upper and lower lips on the right side of his face.

Pretty obvious what had happened. He'd been shot in the right side of his mouth, the bullet had chipped his teeth, then stuck something and coursed down breaking his right collar bone, then exited leaving a ghastly wound in the right armpit. Absolutely the strangest bullet wound I've ever seen. If a prize were given for such things Postoak would have won it hands down.

I was to see Postoak about every day until I was discharged almost a month later. He was making rapid progress, and the wound in his armpit was healing nicely. He'd had some dental work, and his full voice had returned. He would not have been discharged, I'm sure, until after the bloodbath at Seoul was over. But that would mean that he was probably present and accounted for during the campaign at "Frozen Chosin."

I earnestly hope he made it.

Sully, USMC, (Ret.)
Semper Fidelis

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