Fort Lewis, Washington

Recollections of the 51st Evacuation Hospital in World War II

by E. T. Rulison, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S.

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Ft. Lewis, WA: September 1942 to March 1943


At Ft. Lewis the unit was assigned a Regular Army Commanding Officer, Colonel Wendell Weller, who had been a medical officer captain at Lederman General Hospital in San Francisco until the start of W.W. II. A cadre of enlisted men, plus additional medical officers were also assigned to fill out the "T.O." (Table of Organization) of the 51st Evacuation Hospital.


The unit was quartered in barracks at North Ft. Lewis ...
... where we learned to live without privacy and ...
... become accustomed to Army mess rations. All of the nurses, and some of the medical officers were assigned to duty at the Ft. Lewis Station Hospital.
Training for the remainder of the unit consisted of 5 mile hikes with packs, training in the use of gas masks and other equipment.


There were night maneuvers when we would set up the hospital tents in freezing or rainy weather and admit simulated battle casualties under blackout conditions.
Here are the tents drying after one of the night exercises.


Just as the weather at Ft. Lewis was beginning to show signs of spring, we received orders to move to the Desert Training Center in the Mohave Desert of California to provide medical support for General Patton’s armored divisions training there.
Here leaving for California are Lt. Col. Orrin Cook ...
... Major Dudley Saeltzer and Captain Donald Jones, with Capts. Soracco and Mendelhof seeing them off.
Also leaving are Capt. and Mrs. Andrew Henderson and Capt. Ken Dufore.

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© Copyright 2005, E. T. Rulison, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., All rights reserved.