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USS WHITMAN DE 24

This account and photos of the Medical Department of Whitman was provided by Doc Hine.


On commissioning date (July 4, 1943) the USS WHITMAN DE-24 Medical Department consisted of Robert Chicoine PhM2/C USNR, left and Charles M. "Doc" Hine PhM1/C, USN.

The photo of Chief Hine was taken in 1944 at Honolulu, after a few months as Whitman's Senior Medical Department Representative.

The Sick Bay was located on the starboard side a little aft of amidships and one deck below the main deck. The size was ample, approximately 10x12 feet. The equipment included an operating table, lamp and sink.

Chief Hine was very pleased and set out with Chicoine to establish the Sick Bay as the "beauty spot" of the entire ship. More than a few visiting officers were escorted to see the Sick Bay. 

Neither Hine nor Chicoine stood watches as in Captain Carl Bull's words, "The two need to be available for any emergency 24 hours a day." And they were. Chicoine bunked close to the Sick Bay and was often called during the night.

The regular routine consisted of sick calls three times a day. The only exception was the period when the ship was in the typhoon underway to Ulithi escorting the USS Hector repair ship. When sick call was held it was only at noon each day. The mess cooks were inspected daily for clean clothing, clean hands, especially finger nails. And a trip was undertaken through the ship observing anything that was or might become a health problem. 

A monthly inoculation was given (shots for typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, etc.)  An interesting note to this was when Ralph Coan, the ship's second Captain, refused to take his shots. Chief Hine had to show him how by being the guinea pig. After that, Captain Coan would give Chief Hine an inoculation consisting of sterile water after which Captain Coan would accept his inoculation.

Several interesting suture problems (sewing up lacerations) developed during the 26 months Chief Hine was on board. Arley Quicke, a signalman striker at the time, reported to Sick Bay one hot afternoon holding a large part of his left ear in his handkerchief. Quicke asked Chief Hine if he could do anything with the ear. Hine replied that he could finish the job by just cutting it off! But, over two hours of needlework (eye needles) and several shots of Medical Department brandy for the patient, the job was finished.

Chief Hine believes it was his most challenging and successful outcome of all the experiences during the 26 months on board. When Hine and Quicke met at the DESA Reunion in Buffalo, NY in 1992 - almost 50 years later - the ear was the first thing discussed. Bets were made as to which ear it was. Chief Hine to this day could not swear to which ear was reattached.

The first two of the three months during shakedown both Hine and Chicoine were busy giving first aid instructions to all aboard except the first-class petty officers, the chiefs and the officers. The "Docs" knew that if the ship was ever hit by a suicide bomber then there would be more casualties than the two could handle. A considerable amount of training took place including refresher training every three or so months. Medical emergency lockers, approximately 18 to 20 (two rather large) were re-examined, re-sterilized and re-packed every three to four months when conditions permitted and the ship was in port where the services could be performed.

Whitman was in a division of six DEs: USS Burden Hastings, 19; LeHardy, 20: Harold C. Thomas, 21; Wileman, 22; and Charles R. Greer, 23. A Lt(jg) Cerioni was the division medical officer. Hine always asked the doctor to come aboard for duty with the crew of Whitman. The doctor always remarked, "Chief Hine, you are doing well. I will go on board one of the other division DEs." The doctor would have relieved Chief Hine of a lot of responsibility had he been on board Whitman.

The Whitman crew of about 200 stayed very healthy. No one was lost but Chief Hine did transfer 24 sailors who suffered with chronic sea sickness. These were sailors who just couldn't get used to a small ship on the rough seas.

Because Hine was not occupied all the time, he volunteered to serve on the Mail Censoring Committee. He continued these responsibilities for 8 months between 1944 and 1945.

PhM2/C Chicoine was promoted to PhM1/C in six or seven months and was transferred as the senior Medical Department aboard his ship. Chicoine was from the Los Angeles area and at the end of the war -and especially in the early 60's - Chief Hine tried numerous times to contact him but to no avail. Chief Hine gives PhM1/C Chicoine much credit in having the Sick Bay as shipshape as possible every day. "Chic" applied many coats of green deck paint to the Sick Bay.

PhM1/C Hine was promoted to CPhM(T) USN on October 1, 1943. Later, during Coan's time as the skipper, Hine was recommended to advance to Warrant Officer, Hospital Corps. This was in late Spring 1945. The BuPers bulletin of 15 June 1945 finally arrived on board and Chief Hine had made the list. He left Whitman and was assigned to a troop transport bound for Pearl Harbor.  During the trip, the two A-bombs were dropped on Japan and the war ended.
 
WOHC Hine served for almost a year before he reverted to CPhM and was released from the Naval Service. He re-enlisted in 1946 as a permanent CPhM. In the Spring of 1951 he became eligible to take the three-day examination for the Medical Service Corps and was promoted to Ensign, Medical Service Corps USN in December 1951. Hine served for 25 years and retired in September 1964 as a Lieutenant Commander MSC USN.
 

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