11 December, 2011

11 December 1944

438th AAA AW BN
APO 230 % Postmaster, N.Y.
11 December, 1944        0905

Good Morning, Sweetheart!

Just look at the time, dear! I know I won’t get very far with this but at least I’ll try. I’ve always preferred writing to you in the a.m. if I could, and the earlier the better; my mind works more easily then. As the day progresses – I usually have about six or seven things to get done and I don’t seem to be wholly relaxed.

In the first place, darling, let me tell you about the enclosed Christmas Card. For some reason or other – when Corps had these made – they didn’t make enough and our outfit got none. Yesterday I managed to get hold of this one card – although I believe we’re trying to have some duplicated. It’s the cleverest thing I’ve seen and when I first saw it I was surprised that it had been passed by the Censor – but passed, it was. It speaks for itself, of course, and I think the Corps is justifiably proud of the part it played and is playing. The Divisions listed on top made up the Corps in the dates shown. Attached outfits – like ours for example – are not listed because there would be too many.

Front and Back Cover of the Christmas Card
from Headquarters VII Corps, 1944

Foldout of Christmas Card
Click Each Half to Enlarge

Yesterday seemed like Sunday – only in the morning. The day was beautiful, but I continued to be busy throughout the day. In the evening – I saw “Casablanca: – for the 3rd or 4th time and then we started to play one “quick” rubber of Bridge – but it was one of those 2 hour rubbers. Oh – Pete came in for the movie and I asked him what he knew about the 31st of January – and he said – ‘nothing’ – so I’m still unable to figure out what you meant in your letter. And speaking of letters reminds me of something. I didn’t mean to worry you when I mentioned going out at night to take care of private patients. When did I mention it was dangerous, dear? I don’t recall that at all. The only thing hazardous

Hello, darling, – as I was saying there’s nothing much hazardous about seeing a civilian patient at nite – as long as you know the Password for the day. I haven’t run into any trouble. And I haven’t gone far at nite – it’s always close by – and don’t worry about a trap. What would the Germans want with a doctor. I have no more love for the Germans, Sweetheart, than you; and I have no concerns over the misery some of them are putting up with. They’re all liars, all hated Hitler and all are glad we came – so they say; but when a person is sick – I’ve got to take care of him – that’s all. As a matter of fact – from all we’ve learned – the German medical service has been pretty decent to our soldiers. Don’t give the matter another thought, dear – I’m careful and I want to come back to you just as much as you want it. I always know where I’m going and why and my nite visits are very rare indeed. Satisfied?

Sweetheart – I must go now. I have an appointment with Civil Affairs; I’m going to try to get into a closed drugstore near here and see if I can get hold of some cough medicine. We’ve had some trouble getting it thru regular channels – and I’ve got a few soldiers who could use some. So – until later – darling, so long and don’t forget – take care of yourself – too! Love to the folks.

All my deepest love,

Stolberg, Germany

11 December, 1944

       The bearer of this letter is authorized to inspect the drug stock of Karl Klein.

1st Lt., C.A.C.
Supply Officer


about "Well, I'll be Damned"

This story comes from the 11 December 1944 issue of Time magazine and is titled "Medicine: Well, I'll Be Damned." A similar article was also printed in the Newsweek published the same date.
On a battlefield near Metz lay a wounded rifleman, clutching his neck and writhing in agony. His windpipe had been fractured by a mortar shell fragment; he was suffocating. Medical Corpsman Duane N. Kinman, 19, crawled to his aid through heavy machine-gun and mortar fire; 2nd Lieut. Edwin M. Eberling of Lincoln, Neb. joined him.

The medical corpsman, who in peacetime had been an automobile mechanic in College Place, Wash., went to work on the rifleman's throat. He knew, at second hand, the delicate operation that had to be done; his Army instructors had lectured on it, months before—a tracheotomy (incision into the windpipe) to provide an air entrance through the neck. (Common peacetime use: to save children strangling from diphtheria.) Even under the best conditions, the operation is risky; surgical books say that a good light is essential, that the patient's neck must be held very steady to avoid cutting the nearby jugular veins. While Lieut. Eberling held the struggling rifleman down, Private Kinman had to do as best he could by the murky light of the battlefield.

Said Private Kinman to the patient, as he opened his jackknife: "I don't like to do this, but it is the only way you are going to live." He made a vertical incision in the exact middle of the wounded man's neck stopped the blood as well as he could,' made an up & down cut in the windpipe, which he wedged open with the top of a fountain pen. "Now," he said, "keep that pen in your windpipe and you'll be O.K. You can't breathe through your nose or mouth, but if you keep your windpipe open with the pen, you can breathe through the cut I made."

In a few minutes the rifleman felt better. He stood up, fingering the tip of the fountain pen. A passing tank carried him to the battalion aid station. There the surgeon stared at the queer arrangement in his neck and sent him on. Next stop was the clearing station, where Captain David Dunn of Westminster, Md. removed the pen top, put in a regular tracheotomy tube (which the air passes through, not around, as in the case of the makeshift wedge).

Surgeons who later heard the rifleman's story almost invariably remarked, "Well, I'll be damned." One of them wrote a commendation for Private Kinman's presence of mind, resourcefulness and skill.

Last week, soon after Private Kinman was promoted to technician fourth grade. Western Reserve University offered to see him through medical school. T/4 Kinman, who has had only three years of high school, was so stunned at the news that he had to sit down.
Here is a story and picture of Private Hinman from The Daily News, Huntington, PA, Saturday, 23 December, 1944, page 3.

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