Thursday, April 11, 2024


About late January or early February in 1965 we returned to our home base of HU-4, NAS Lakehurst, NJ, after about 30 days aboard the USS NEWPORT NEWS to New Orleans.

For the past couple of years I had a painful seeping Pilonidal Cyst on the end of my spine, aka tailbone.  I finally went to the base medical office in late February or so.  A doctor looked at it and the next thing I knew I was booked to go to the Philadelphia Naval Hospital to have it removed. Be prepared to stay 30 days, or longer.

I was carried by a Navy vehicle to the hospital, a big, tall building on Broad Street if I remember correctly.  After I checked in I checked out the neighborhood bars.  A bar about 2 or 3 doors down an elderly lady invited me to sit with her at a table.   I was in uniform.   She was a Naval Hospital Volunteer.  She was buying.  We had a nice talk.

I was put in a ward, large long room, with at least 20 other patients.  I did not the constant chatter noise or the crowdedness. 

The next morning, I was wheeled to an operating room where doctors removed the cyst.  I was unconscious.  Later that day I woke up in a different ward, probably the same number of beds but I was the only person there.  My meals were brought to me.  Either that day or the next day the operating doctor came by to look at his handy work and told me to take syth baths 2 or 3 times a day.

There was a room with little porcelain tubs.  I was to clean it good, add warm water and medicine, disrobe and sit down in it for 30 minutes.  And clean it again after I get out.  You are in the company of several other men with similar wounds.


I noticed that my peers and I rarely spoke.  I noticed that in the head of the USS NEWPORT NEWS siting on the john taking a dump and touching bare knees with the person in front of you it was the same, you rarely speak.  Maybe with it all hanging out you are afraid someone might misinterpret your friendliness.

I was wrong about being the only patient in the ward.  In a room at the end was a bed with a moaning man in it.  He apparently was blind, and all bandaged up and was always in pain moaning.  I was told by an orderly that he was unknown.  He was also incommunicative  Something about him, like a tattoo or something told he was a veteran so they adopted him.  He reminded me of the main  character in the book JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN by Dalton Trumbo.

After a couple of days of bed rest they told me I would have to go to the cafeteria and stand in line to get my food.  No problem.

I carried a few books and magazines to the hospital with me.  One of the orderlies was impressed with my readings and we had several literary discussions.  Then he invited me to his home, only a few blocks away for dinner.  He and his wife were very gracious hosts.

After I was on my feet they assigned me a small job.  “No Free Lunch” you know.  I think I had to empty waste baskets and sweep a ward, or wherever I was told.  One time I was instructed to empty the “shit cans” in the Offices Personnel Office” and while doing I was asked could I type and I said yes.  So, I was reassigned to the Officers Personnel Records as a typist.  The lady that was over me found I was OK of a conversationist  and we had many long talks, rather than type.

Then one day she told me she was looking at my personnel records and said when they release me they would give me orders to report to my old Squadron.  I knew that.  But here is the thing:  At the time of my transfer, I would have less than 90 days left of my active duty contract.  I had the option to be released from active duty when I left there.

I thought of my friends back at HU-4 Squadron that I wanted to see again.  And also, I left my car keys and the car with my friend Don saying he could use it while I was gone.

So, when I was released from the Naval Hospital and was carried back to NAS Lakehurst, NJ, when going to the barracks I saw my car parked out front and getting closer I saw the shotgun side door was held on by a rope.  Don and a bunch of fiends were driving in a wooded area, hit a tree and knocked the door off.

Another friend Sam, one day, took the day off, and fixed my door.  How?  I didn’t ask.

I was told by a Navy doctor that once the cyst and it roots are removed it would not come back.  It did, twice.

I am putting bits of little adventures I had in the past because I feel my memory glands are getting weak.

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