Replacement Corpsman

Doc Furman – Med CAP – Thuong Duc

Saturday, November 9, 1968

The Admin truck returned with two Marine Corps Birthday cakes.  One belonged to India Company, and the other was for Kilo Battery.  Fernando had loaded the truck carefully, and each cake was protected by cases of chocolate milk cartons.  The rest of the meats and produce were in the trailer.

After unloading, we delivered a cake to the India Company CP.  It was a standard 18″ X 26″ two-layer cake.  Their Gunny wanted me to keep the cake until tomorrow but I said, “No, we don’t have security to guard it.”  He fell for my lame excuse and made room for the cake on an empty cot in the CP.

Back at the mess hall, Doc Driscoll was introducing a new Corpsman.  His name was “Doc Wayne.”  I looked at the embroidered name patch on his uniform (J.D. Wayne) and said, “Don’t tell me your first name is John.”  It was his name:  Hm 3rd Class John Duke Wayne.  Referring to my nickname he said, “Is it Ptomaine, as in the poison?”  I corrected him, “FOOD poisoning.”  It was a good friendly first meeting until I asked, “When is Doc Furman leaving?”  Driscoll said, “He left two days ago to CONUS.”

This hit me like a brick.  How could he leave and not say goodbye?  This news hung over me like a cloud.  After a while I realized Furman was a sensitive guy behind the facade of his gruff personality.  The emotion of saying goodbye was something he couldn’t afford.  I wondered how he ever kept it all together.

Next Edition:  Young and Old


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