Kansas Historical Quarterly - An Army Hospital: From Horses to Helicopters
Fort Riley, 1904-1957 -- Concluded
by George E. Omer Jr
Spring 1958 (Vol. XXIV, No. 1), pages 57 to 78
Transcription & HTML Composition by Larry E. & Carolyn L. Mix;
digitized with permission of The Kansas Historical Society.
VIII. World War I Hospital
THE second half century of army medical service at Fort Riley began with solid constructive progress as a three-story limestone wing was added on the south side of the post hospital in 1906. A medical department stable was erected near the hospital in 1908. Then in 1909 the final three-story south wing of the hospital was completed. This completed the second permanent post hospital begun in 1888. The isolation hospital was completed in 1910.
War Department General Order 191, September 13, 1907, changed the designation of the Cavalry and Light Artillery School to the Mounted Service School. But with the advent of 20th century military terminology, the distinctive, descriptive, and professional titles within the medical department were discontinued. Thus, surgeons and hospital stewards were reduced to a common military denominator and were addressed simply and drably by title of rank.
In 1909 Maj. Joseph H. Ford, medical corps, was post surgeon. Seven years later Major Ford served as assistant division surgeon under James D. Glennan during the punitive expedition into Mexico. Capt. Henry L. Brown, medical corps, was also on the Fort Riley hospital staff and later helped hunt Pancho Villa. Captain Brown listed the Fort Riley command on the "Sick and Wounded Report" of February, 1909, and included the Seventh cavalry, Tenth cavalry, Sixth field artillery, detachment of farriers and horseshoers school, detachment signal corps, detachment cooks and bakers' school, detachment of hospital corps, and detachment of mounted service school. In November, 1909, the troop strength of the post averaged 2,267, with 99 hospital admissions during the month.
Lt. Col. William P. Kendall, medical corps, was post surgeon of Fort Riley from 1910 through 1912. Kendall was born in Massachusetts on September 10, 1858, and received his M.D. in 1882 from Columbia University. Doctor Kendall retired on October 18, 1920, with the rank of colonel. The first member of the medical reserve corps to serve at Fort Riley was 1st Lt. Leonard P. Bell, medical reserve corps, when he reported in 1910. In January, 1911, the Seventh cavalry left Fort Riley en route to the Philippine Islands and Lt. Floyd Kramer, medical corps, accompanied the command. The "Reports of Sick and Wounded" for 1912 included newborn sons for proud fathers Capt. Addison D. Davis, medical corps, and Lt. Frederick R. Burnside, medical corps.
Leonard Wood (1860-1927)
A surgeon turned soldier who trained the
89th and 10th divisions in World War I.
In 1912 the chief of staff of the army was Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, who received his M.D. at Harvard University in 1886. The adjutant general of the army was Maj. Gen. F. C. Ainsworth, who received his M.D. at New York University in 1874. This remarkable circumstance of two doctors-turned-soldiers and commanding the army will not likely occur again. Meanwhile at Fort Riley, 2d Lt. George S. Patton was "Master of the Sword" at the mounted service school in 1913.
From 1913 until July, 1915, Col. Henry I. Raymond, medical corps, was the Fort Riley post surgeon. Colonel Raymond, Maj. William R. Eastman, medical corps, and Capt. James C. Magee, medical corps, were members of a board of preliminary examination of applicants for appointment in the medical corps. In 1915 Colonel Raymond left Fort Riley to assume charge of the medical supply depot at San Francisco.
Maj. Chandler P. Robbins, medical corps, reported to Fort Riley in 1915 to be post surgeon. Doctor Robbins' entire medical staff included Maj. George H. Crabtree, medical corps, Capt. Jacob M. Coffin, medical corps, and Capt. Larry B. McAfee, medical corps. Maj. C. T. Robbins was regimental surgeon for the Tenth cavalry and went with the regiment to Mexico in 1916. Capt. L. B. McAfee joined the cantonment hospital on the Mexican border in 1916 and later became brigadier general and assistant surgeon general of the army.
The only remaining medical officer at Fort Riley during the punitive expedition into Mexico was Lt. John Hewitt, medical reserve corps. For almost 12 months in 1916 and 1917, Doctor Hewitt was post surgeon at Fort Riley. Almost all military personnel were off with John J. Pershing chasing Francisco "Pancho" Villa, but Lieutenant Hewitt soothed babies and treated wives. During this duty tour the first elevator was installed in the post hospital. Maj. John Hewitt, medical corps, retired in 1931 and died at the Fort Riley post hospital on May 1, 1956.
World War I brought tremendous medical changes to Fort Riley, The high for total medical activity in terms of personnel and organizational activities was reached during that period.
Portion of medical officers' training camp, World War I
(between post headquarters and First Capitol building on K-18).
The first new medical activity was the medical officers' training camp. The training camp at Fort Riley existed longer than the three other medical officers' training camps that were established, beginning on June 1, 1917, and finally closing on February 4, 1919. The site selected was northeast of the post hospital. There the terrain rises gradually from the main road through the reservation (K-18) up through Magazine canyon to the eminence of Wireless hill. Near the eastern edge is One-Mile creek. In the southern portion of the camp site were the medical officers' barracks, while the quarters of the ambulance companies and field hospitals were on the northern side. Headquarters of the training camp was first established in cavalry headquarters, which was the first permanent hospital on the post. As no barracks were completed, the artillery guardhouse was temporarily assigned to the training camp for use as quarters. A newspaper clipping of June 6, 1917, noted: "A number of the surgeons . . . have been put in the guardhouse" -- but only until their quarters were finished.
No allotment was made to prepare the barracks of the medical officers' training camp for winter occupancy. The buildings were built with partially cured lumber and the walls soon shrunk with many visible cracks. As an expedient, permission was obtained to haul scrap lumber left over from the construction of Camp Funston. Carpenters were recruited among the enlisted men and organized into a detachment and put to work lining the inside of the buildings with the scrap lumber. The walls were first covered with newspapers and tar paper, then wainscoted to the windows. This kept the most severe winds out, if not pneumonia. The cantonment occupied by the 13th and 20th cavalry regiments on main post was turned over to the training camp in December, 1917. Again a construction company of enlisted men was formed to remodel the buildings. Stairways were built, stable stalls were floored, baths and toilets installed, and a gun shed was converted into a mess hall. The final quarters that were occupied by officers and enlisted men had a capacity varying from 80 to 100 men for each barracks. It would have to be an understatement to suggest that during the severe winters of 1917-1918 and 1919 there was some discomfort from the cold.
William N. Bispham, 1875-1945)
The first commanding officer of the medical officers'
training camp at Fort Riley.
When the medical officers' training camp opened, the academic staff consisted of the commandant, nine medical officers and two enlisted men. The commandant was Lt. Col. William N. Bispham, medical corps. Doctor Bispham was born in Virginia and received his M.D. from the University of Maryland in 1897. He was an enlisted man in the infantry and had been a contract surgeon for two years before joining the regular army. Colonel Bispham retired from the army in 1939.
The program of instruction for the training camp included field classes with such subjects as map reading, professional subjects like orthopedics, and combined military-medical problems such as sanitary tactics in the field. Special schools for officers in orthopedics and roentgenology were established in December, 1917. The orthopedic classes were taught at the base hospital where a ward was set aside for bone surgery cases. Another building was assigned for the orthopedic out-patient clinic and classroom. Approximately 15 physicians graduated from the course each month. The orthopedic course was taught by Maj. J. P. Lord, medical reserve corps. A similar four-week course in roentgenology was taught by Maj. Arial W. George, medical reserve corps. Other special classes in military sanitation and epidemiology were taught by Maj. Charles S. Williamson, medical reserve corps, and Maj. Daniel M. Shewbrooks, medical corps. A basic general medical course was taught to the enlisted men and was under the supervision of Maj. Henry C. Pillsbury, medical corps.
The medical officers' training camp band was the first 50-piece band to be organized within the army. At the special request of the American Medical Association, the band was sent to Chicago in June, 1918, to present special concerts at the annual meeting of the association.
Evacuation hospital No. 1, the first evacuation hospital organized in the United States, was formed at the training camp in 1917. During the life of the camp 54 student companies were organized and more than 4,500 officers and 25,470 enlisted men reported for training. Some of the units that were organized included: Evacuation hospitals 1, 7, 9-12, 15-17, 19-21; ambulance companies 27, 28, 36-41; base hospitals 70, 81-90; hospital trains 38, 39; corps sanitary train 1; army sanitary train 1. In July, 1918, the medical officers' training camp was partially consolidated with the training camp at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga.
With the merger, Col. William N. Bispham, medical corps, was transferred to Fort Oglethorpe. The new commandant of the training camp was Lt. Col. H. F. Pipes, medical corps. The consolidation of training left the Fort Riley camp with responsibility for training regimental detachments, ambulance companies, and field hospitals. Courses of instruction continued, as here listed for August, 1918, Order No. 39, Fort Riley MOTC; army regulations, Maj. K. W. Kinard; field sanitation, Capt. A. G. Byers; system of trenches, Lt. R. A. Hennessey; examination of field equipment, Capt. E. H. Morgan; field regulations, Lt. Carl Davis; tent pitching, Capt. H. C. Parsons; map reading, Capt. F. E. Ellison; mess management, Lt. H. I. Conn; and medical department in campaign, Maj. H. C. Parker. Perhaps the courses listed do not fall under any recognized medical professional specialty, but all the instructors noted in this paragraph were physicians on active duty in the medical corps.
The other major medical organization at Fort Riley during World War I was the base hospital. The base hospital was organized September 27, 1917. To obtain the needed facilities as soon as possible, the artillery post was converted to medical buildings with headquarters of the base hospital in Building 92, which is now called Custer Hall and is the headquarters of the U. S. army aggressor center. Six two-story gray limestone artillery barracks fronting on the parade ground, were adapted to hospital purposes. Around the southern portion of the artillery parade were eight brick buildings utilized for the neurological section. Just east of the permanent limestone buildings on the artillery parade were six temporary wooden buildings used for genitourinary patients, and one hundred yards on east were 12 semipermanent buildings utilized for various contagious diseases.
Occupying the summit of the hill east of the contagious disease section, a group of ten ward buildings was constructed and utilized as the convalescent hospital. In the middle of this convalescent group (Godfrey Court) the American Red Cross built a two-story building for patients and their families. This is now the main officers' mess. The old post hospital was called section "K" and became the surgical services with a group of semipermanent buildings constructed to the north and east for additional cases. The isolation hospital was used for the treatment of meningitis. More than 50 buildings were occupied by the base hospital during its lifetime from September, 1917, until June, 1919.
Edward R. Schreiner (1873- ----)
Post surgeon and one of the commanders
of the 3,000-bed base hospital in Warld War I.
The first commandant of the base hospital was Col. Douglas F. Duval, medical corps. Doctor Duval was born in Maryland on June 4, 1870, and received his M.D. from the University of Virginia in 1894. Colonel Duval retired from the army in June, 1934. The base hospital was commanded for the longest period of time by Col. Edward R. Schreiner, medical corps. Doctor Schreiner was born in Pennsylvania on November 18, 1873, and received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1896. Colonel Schreiner entered federal service as a contract surgeon, joined the regular medical corps and commanded the cantonment hospital on the Mexican border in 1916. He retired from the army in 1928.
The army nurse corps was established in 1901 by Surg. Gen. George Miller Sternberg, a former Fort Riley post surgeon. But army nurses were not assigned to Fort Riley until 1917. The first chief nurse at Fort Riley was 1st Lt. Elizabeth Harding, army nurse corps. A recent letter from Miss Harding describes the flavor of World War I nursing at Fort Riley:
"I arrived at Fort Riley about the middle of October, 1917, in a snow storm! I spent the coldest winter of my life and the hottest summer that I can remember. Barracks were being converted into hospitals. At first it was very primitive with no toilet or bath facilities except in the basement of the buildings. Hot water and heat were scarce. The nurses were first quartered in the various buildings on the parade ground but finally moved into wooden cantonment type buildings and felt we were in a palace. In those days there was a great deal more bedside nursing than I am inclined to think is done now. Excellent nursing care was given and we rarely dropped below one nurse to ten patients.
The uniform of the nurses was "not uniform" and there were very few regular army nurses. As usual in large groups as were housed together at Camp Funston, there were many epidemics. Many of the troops came from the farms where they had never come in contact with contagious diseases. The most serious outbreak was meningitis. The penicillin teams of World War II reminded me of the teams doing spinal punctures and giving serum at Fort Riley. Several years previously, Kansas had had a meningitis epidemic due to human carriers, and research was completed under the direction of the Rockefeller Foundation. A carrier was found among the nurses and one night we cultured over three hundred to see if there were any others. At one time we had over 800 cases of mumps, there was measles, smallpox, diphtheria, and every conceivable contagious disease. Our surgical work was light. In those days cars were few and far between, eliminating automobile accidents. However, post-operative care was much longer than it is now.
I left Fort Riley in October of 1918, for duty in the Office of the Surgeon General. The flu epidemic had just struck, and the day I left there were over 5,000 patients. Barracks were opened at Camp Funston to accommodate the sick. Several nurses died, I am not certain, but it seems to me at least sixteen. The nurses who had been on duty at Fort Riley stood up very well, but nurses who were rushed in for the emergency were hard hit, and arrived sick. Oh, yes, it was not all work and no play. We had many parties, dances, and picnics at Fort Riley in 1917-1918.
Temporary barracks for nurses,
base hospital, World War I. (Main post area)
Lieutenant Colonel Harding was retired from the army and now lives in New York City.
Statistical data indicates that the highest census of the Fort Riley base hospital was in October, 1918, when there were 11,645 patients in the hospital; the same month there were 958 deaths. In 1918 there were 122 assigned doctors and 297 nurses on duty at the hospital, in addition there were 1,024 attached enlisted men. This was a contrast to the outbreak of the war when the entire medical department of the army consisted of approximately 500 officers and 3,000 enlisted men.
A famous physician and cavalryman, Surgeon Leonard Wood, served at Fort Riley during World War I but did not practice medicine. He had won his Congressional Medal of Honor while chasing Apaches with the Fourth cavalry. He became chief of staff of the army after transferring to the line. As major general, he trained more than 150,000 recruits at Camp Funston. He organized the 89th division and later the 10th division. Wood came to Fort Riley on August 26, 1917, and stayed throughout the war. He died in 1927 and was buried in the plot in Arlington cemetery reserved for the "Rough Riders" regiment, which he raised and commanded.
The position of post surgeon of Fort Riley was retained during World War I, but referred only to the physician who was on the staff of the commandant of the mounted service school. Maj. Chandler P. Robbins, medical corps, returned from Mexico in 1917, and a newspaper story of July 19, 1917, noted that Post Surgeon Robbins had ordered that all workers of the Fuller Construction Company be given typhoid shots. Later, the important medical decisions for the entire reservation were made by the highest ranking medical officer, first Colonel Duval and then Colonel Schreiner. Maj. L. A. Clary, medical corps, followed Major Robbins in the position of post surgeon from October 31, 1919, to February 6, 1920; then Maj. John A. Martin, medical corps, filled the staff position until October 30, 1920.
Daniel B. Leininger (1879- ----)
First post veterinarian and senior instructor
in the department of hippology.
The mounted service school continued to function throughout the war period. The department of hippology included the veterinary hospital, the school for stable sergeants, and the school for horseshoers. The department of hippology had existed since 1902 with civilian veterinarians and enlisted farriers as instructors. The veterinary corps was established in 1916 and the first Fort Riley post veterinarian was Capt. Daniel B. Leininger, veterinary corps, who was senior instructor of the department of hippology in 1918. Doctor Leininger was born in Pennsylvania in 1879 and received his D. V. S. degree from Kansas City Veterinary College in 1906. He was promoted to colonel in 1937 and retired in 1943.
In addition to the staff medical officer at the main post area, a camp surgeon was maintained at Camp Funston. Funston had accommodations for over 50,000 men, and 14 infirmaries were maintained as well as numerous regimental dispensaries. The first camp surgeon was Maj. Fred W. O'Donnell, medical corps. Doctor O'Donnell was born at Milton Malby, Ireland, in 1869. In 1888 he came to Kansas with his parents and in 1896 graduated from medical school. He first practiced medicine in Bushton, but later took a year's graduate work at Columbia University and then opened his office in Junction City. Following his tour at Camp Funston, he accompanied the 89th division overseas and served with distinction. As a lieutenant colonel, O'Donnell returned to Kansas, where he remained in private medical practice in Junction City more than 60 years. In 1946, on the anniversary of his 50th year in practice, Doctor O'Donnell was honored by the Fort Riley-Junction City community. Following his death on November 6, 1956, his memory was perpetuated when a housing area on Morris Hill at Fort Riley was named "O'Donnell Heights" on May 18, 1957.
The public health service assumed some responsibility for the medical care of Fort Riley personnel when typhoid fever was reported in Ogden on August 14, 1917. Col. Charles E. Banks, senior surgeon arrived from Washington and met with Doctor Montgomery, Riley county health officer, and Doctor Northrup, Geary county health officer. A health zone or quarantine area was established around Camp Funston and rigid sanitary inspections were maintained for drugs, food, and dairy products. Maj. L. G. Brown, medical corps, 89th division surgeon, co-operated in the preventative medicine program by placing recruits in a large detention camp for quarantine purposes. A newspaper clipping of December 22, 1917, noted that a new detention camp was being built north of Junction City on Pawnee Flats with 500 tent houses for 5,000 men. This is the site occupied by the World War II cantonment hospital.
Red Cross nurses assisted the public health officials and also worked in the base hospital. The first Red Cross nurse at Fort Riley was Ann Marie Hannon, who arrived August 18, 1918, and worked several months before leaving the post with hospital train duty. Nurse Hannon is now Mrs. Alan Eustace of Wakefield.
IX. Peace-Time Army
What is currently considered the "old-army" is the model that existed between the two World Wars. The military establishment compressed into a pattern of garrison duty, service schools, and troop assignments. Camp Funston was amputated from Fort Riley when the wooden barracks of the cantonment were sold for salvage at public auction. But continuity of the post was assured when the mounted service school was officially changed to the cavalry school on September 19, 1919. The station medical service returned to the pre-war hospital group north of Highway K-18, with hospital headquarters in Building 108. The telephone directory for 1920 listed only three medical officers on the post in addition to the post surgeon, Maj. L. A. Clary, medical corps.
From 1921 until 1924 the post surgeon was Lt. Col. Llewellyn P. Williamson, medical corps. The army surgeon general's report for 1905 stated that Asst. Surg. L. P. Williamson had reported an outbreak of beriberi among the Philippinos at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. This is the only epidemic of this disease that has been reported in the United States. A complement of five nurses was assigned to the hospital, with 1st Lt. A. L. George, army nurse corps, as the chief nurse. The chief of the hospital medical service was Maj. Arthur D. Jackson, medical corps, who was born in Argentina in 1873 and had received his M.D. from Northwestern University in 1899. The chief of the hospital surgical service was Maj. Douglas Miltz McEnery, medical corps, a native of Louisiana who had entered service in 1911 after receiving his degree in medicine from George Washington University.
During most of World War I the dental officers assigned to Fort Riley were reserve officers on temporary active duty. The first regular dental officer who functioned as post dental surgeon was Maj. Arthur W. Holderness, dental corps. His son, A. W. Holderness, Jr., was born at Fort Riley on October 28, 1920, and graduated from West Point in 1943. The post veterinarian was Robert J. Foster, major, veterinary corps, a native of Ohio who had received his D. V. M. degree from Cornell University in 1902.
Lt. Col. Alexander Murray, medical corps, was the Fort Riley post surgeon from 1924 until 1927. Doctor Murray was born in Virginia in 1874 and received his degree in medicine from Columbian University, D. C., in 1902. Colonel Murray retired from the army in 1938 but was recalled to active duty from 1940 to 1944. The hospital staff included Maj. Charles C. Hillman, chief of medicine, and Maj. Joseph Casper, chief of surgery. Hillman retired from the army in 1947, a major general.
Camp Whitside, World War II cantonment hospital, 1953.
(On K-18 opposite First Capitol Building)
One of the more utilized areas of the Fort Riley reservation is Pawnee Flats, the territory north of the Kansas river between One-mile creek and Three-mile creek. This area included the site of Pawnee where the first territorial legislature of Kansas met. Camp Root was built on Pawnee Flats in 1902 for the first army field maneuvers and field hospitals with ambulance companies were utilized for the first time. The largest quarantine camp for Camp Funston during World War I was built on the Flats. A National Guard camp was built there in 1924 and named in honor of Col. Warren W. Whitside, the post quartermaster. Camp Whitside was the site selected for the cantonment hospital of World War II. The new Irwin Army Hospital has been built in the Camp Whitside (Pawnee Flats) area. Perhaps it is appropriate that medical activities should dominate Camp Whitside and Pawnee Flats, since Colonel Whitside had previously worked with medics. The army surgeon general's report for 1904 noted the appointment of Capt. Warren Webster Whitside, 15th cavalry, as instructor in equitation at the army medical school.
Permanent hospital group, 1926, now post headquarters.
In 1926 2d Lt. Seth Overbaugh Craft was the first member of the new medical administration corps to be assigned to Fort Riley. Craft was born in New York state in 1900 and had been an enlisted man in the medical department of the army from 1920 to 1925, prior to his commission. Colonel Craft retired in 1955 from his position as executive officer of Brooke Army Hospital.
Col. Jay W. Grissinger, medical corps, was the Fort Riley post surgeon from 1927 until 1929. Doctor Grissinger received a M.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1898 and entered active duty in 1902. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal during World War I. The hospital staff included Maj. Dean F. Winn, chief of surgery, and Maj. Paul Richard Eddins Sheppard, chief of medicine. Winn retired in 1948, a brigadier general. First Lt. Lulu M. Gerding, army nurse corps, was the chief nurse. Post dental surgeon was Lt. Col. Frank P. Stone, dental corps, a native of Missouri who had received a D. D. S. degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1900. Maj. Paul Ramsey Hawley, medical corps, was assigned to Fort Riley in 1927; he retired as a major general in 1946, after awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and Bronze Star Medal.
From 1929 until 1931 the post surgeon of Fort Riley was Col. Ernest L. Ruffner, medical corps. Doctor Ruffner was born in Kansas in 1870 but went east to obtain his M.D. from the University of Buffalo in 1894. During World War I he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. The post dental surgeon was Capt. James Harvey Pence, dental corps, who had earned his D. D. S. at Kansas City-Western Dental College in 1921. Maj. James B. Owen, medical corps, was chief of medicine at the post hospital and Maj. Robert Burns Hill, medical corps, was chief of surgery. Hill retired as a brigadier general in 1950 with decorations including Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, and Commendation Ribbon.
Col. Edgar William Miller, medical corps, was the Fort Riley post surgeon from 1931 until 1936. A native of Iowa, Doctor Miller earned his M.D. in 1899 from Creighton Medical College in Nebraska. Colonel Miller entered federal service as a contract surgeon and was afterward appointed an assistant surgeon in 1903. His bravery during World War I was recognized by awards of Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and a Purple Heart. Colonel Miller retired in 1941. The post veterinarian was Col. John Alexander McKinnon, veterinary corps, a Canadian who had received degrees in veterinary surgery from Ontario Veterinary College and Toronto University. The office of post dental surgeon belonged to Maj. Albert Fields, dental corps, who was born in Kansas in 1888 and graduated from the Louisville College of Dentistry in 1915. The post hospital staff was headed by Maj. Charles Robert Mueller, medical corps, chief of medicine; Maj. James M. Troutt, medical corps, chief of surgery; and 1st Lt. Anna A. Montgomery, army nurse corps, chief nurse.
Depression times enveloped Fort Riley and the military progress pace was marching-in-place. The annual report of the post surgeon for 1933 recorded a station complement of 212 officers, 13 nurses, 9 warrant officers, and 2,437 enlisted men. This human total of 2,671 was less than the 2,807 animals supported on the reservation. Units at Fort Riley included the 2d cavalry, 13th cavalry, 9th cavalry, 84th field artillery, and the 16th air corps observer squadron. Medical activities were extended in 1933 to support units of the civilian conservation corps within a wide radius of Fort Riley. More than one medical administration officer was assigned for the first time in 1935 when the post telephone directory listed 1st Lt. Walter D. McFarlon, medical administration corps, 2d Lt. Frank R. Day, medical administration corps, and 2d Lt. William R. Chamberlain, medical administration corps. The military profession became more attractive as the economic pinch increased so that reserve medical officers, contract physicians, and contract nurses appeared on the rolls of the hospital staff. But good patient care continued and research projects were accomplished, as indicated by the establishment of a Seventh corps laboratory at Fort Leavenworth in 1933 and active study was made of meningococcus meningitis.
From 1936 until 1939 the post surgeon of Fort Riley was Col. Morrison Clay Stayer, medical corps. M. C. Stayer was born in Pennsylvania in 1882 and was a private in the army hospital corps from April 27 to December 8, 1898. He left the army for an education and earned an A.B. degree from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania in 1903, and then a M.D. from Jefferson Medical College in 1906. He retired as a major general in 1946 with decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Legion of Merit. The hospital staff included Maj. Henry Cheesman Dooling, medical corps, chief of medicine; Maj. James Albertus Bethea, medical corps, chief of surgery; and 1st Lt. Theresa Anne Wilson, army nurse corps, chief nurse. Brigadier General Dooling retired in 1947, Major General Bethea in 1949, and Lieutenant Colonel Wilson in 1951.
In 1937 nurses' quarters were built just east of the post hospital. The brick structure contrasted with the limestone hospital. The first signs of the future women's medical specialist corps were evident when Dorothy Grace Tipton was assigned in 1939 as physiotherapy aide, while in 1940 Elizabeth M. Murray was the first dietitian and 2d Lt. Laura Skillon, army nurse corps (physiotherapist), became the first commissioned therapist assigned to Fort Riley.
The peace-time era ended with the tour of Col. Sanford Williams French, medical corps, as the post surgeon of Fort Riley from 1939 until 1941. A native of New York, French was a hospital steward in the U. S. navy from January, 1902, until February, 1910. Meanwhile, he earned a M.D. degree from George Washington University in 1909. Then began his career as an army medical officer that lasted from 1910 until 1944. Lt. Col. Arthur Benedict McCormick, dental corps, was post dental surgeon and Col. Jacob E. Behney, veterinary corps, was post veterinarian. The annual photograph of the hospital staff showed 13 smiling nurses in 1939. Perhaps the unlucky number was the omen of the future, for early in World War II, Minnie L. Breese, Dorthea M. Daley, Sallie P. Durrett, and Ruth M. Stoltz became Japanese prisoners.
X. World War II Cantonment Hospital
With war an ominous probability, the tempo of building and activity at Fort Riley rapidly increased. Camp Funston was rebuilt in 1940 with more than 900 buildings that were subsequently used by the Second cavalry division and the Ninth armored division. The cavalry replacement training center at Camp Forsyth was constructed in the fall of 1940 and contained over 250 buildings, including five dispensaries and one dental clinic. Over 150,000 men trained at Camp Forsyth during World War II.
In 1939 the post hospital consisted of 11 wards with 250 patient beds. The first major remodeling since 1889 was completed in 1939 with the air conditioned and tiled operating suite complete with two operating rooms, orthopedic cast room, and various utility rooms. Operating room nurse was Lt. K. "Red" McNulty, army nurse corps. Sgt. Glenn Ensworth was chief surgical technician, but now is Capt. G. Ensworth, medical service corps. A 500-bed cantonment type temporary hospital was constructed at Camp Whitside to relieve the acute shortage of hospital facilities. Work was started on December 8, 1940, and the cantonment hospital was first opened for patients in March, 1941. The old post hospital was designated as the surgical annex. In 1941 the 250-bed surgical annex was beautified by further landscaping, trees, shrubs, and flowers while oats were planted around the cantonment station hospital to keep down the dust.
War came, and changing confusion became the pattern of the times. Pearl T. Ellis, army nurse corps, who had been at Fort Riley since 1927, was promoted from lieutenant to major in less than one year. Hospital Sgt.-Maj. William W. Smith received a direct commission as captain. Col. Sanford W. French, medical corps, opened the new station hospital at Camp Whitside and then was ordered to Oliver General Hospital in Georgia.
Col. Adam E. Schlanser, medical corps, was post surgeon of Fort Riley from 1942 until 1945. Doctor Schlanser was born in Ohio in 1880 and earned his M.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 1908. The hospital staff included Col. Raymond W. Whittier, medical corps, as chief of surgery, and Lt. Col. Paul A. Paden, medical corps, as chief of medicine. The detachment commander was Capt. Adolph Guyer, pharmacy corps, who now lives in Hays. Lt. Col. Pearl Tyler Ellis, army nurse corps, remained as hospital chief nurse until 1945, thus completing more than 17 years of service at Fort Riley.
Meanwhile, the post population climbed to 38,299 in 1942. Although that was a huge human medical problem, consider the last big animated task of the veterinary medical service. There were 6,649 animals in the Second cavalry division, cavalry replacement training center and the cavalry school. The permanent veterinary hospital on main post had 46 stalls and an isolation ward, while the cavalry replacement training center had a temporary 50-stall hospital. The Second cavalry division was inactivated in 1942, the last division surgeon was Lt. Col. Lucius K. Patterson, medical corps.
Construction of the new station hospital was completed in 1942 and consisted of 84 cantonment-type temporary buildings occupying 80 acres of Camp Whitside. There were 38 wards with a capacity of 1,292 patient beds. In addition, there were eight barracks for the medical detachment. During the winter those barracks became expansion patient wards and the capacity of the hospital was increased to 1,750 beds. The post surgeon's office was moved back to the surgical annex in 1943 from the station hospital, but the surgical annex was not entirely administrative in function, since 4,031 operations were performed that year. In 1943 the station hospital became part of the army service forces under the seventh service command with 142 officers and 283 enlisted men assigned. Medical units in training on the Fort Riley reservation included: 46th general hospital, 217th general hospital, and the 715th medical sanitary company.
The station hospital became a regional hospital in June, 1944, and the increased responsibility was reflected by the average census of 807 patients during October, 1944, the highest during World War II. There were 45 medical officers, 45 dentists, and 43 nurses attached to the hospital; 32,704 dental patients were seen during the year and medical supply processed 35 tactical organizations departing from Fort Riley for overseas. Four numbered medical units completed training, including the 54th general hospital, 56th portable surgical hospital, 57th portable surgical hospital, and 23d veterinary station hospital.
A prisoner-of-war camp was established at Camp Funston in 1944 with satellite stations and small infirmaries established at Eskridge in April, Peabody and Council Grove in August, El Dorado in October, and Camp Phillips at Salina in November. The Camp Funston POW surgeon was Capt. Max Feldman, medical corps, while the outlying infirmaries were staffed by German medical officers.
Col. Irwin Bradfield Smock, medical corps, was post surgeon of Fort Riley from 1945 until 1949. A native of Pennsylvania, Doctor Smock graduated from the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania in 1912. Colonel Smock retired in 1949 with decorations including the Legion of Merit and Commendation Ribbon. His son, Richard Smock, was the honor graduate of the ground general school, officers candidate school at Fort Riley in 1949. Second Lt. Richard Smock was killed in action in Korea in 1951 and is now buried in the Fort Riley cemetery.
The army intelligence school was established at Fort Riley in December, 1945, but with the end of World War II, both the cavalry and intelligence schools were terminated on October 31, 1946. The ground general school was activated on November 1, 1946. The last cavalry replacement training center surgeon was Lt. Col. Frank F. Harris, medical corps, while Colonel Smock was the last surgeon of the cavalry school. The last mounted cavalry parade was in Junction City on November 11, 1946, in honor of Dr. Fred W. O'Donnell's 50 years of service to civilian and military patients.
In 1945 plywood floor covering was installed in the corridors of the station hospital and then finished with linoleum. Thirty-six mechanical ventilation units were installed in the wards. By 1947 the inevitable postwar cutback had skeletonized the hospital, and the staff was limited to 13 medical officers, eight dental officers, 15 nurses, five medical service officers, and 90 enlisted men. The post population was 4,067 on December 31, 1947, with 68 patients in the station hospital.
Post headquarters moved into the first permanent hospital in 1890 when the second permanent hospital was occupied. The pattern was repeated in 1947 when the surgical annex was converted into Fort Riley post headquarters. The station hospital at Camp Whitside became the primary medical facility on post.
The Tenth infantry division was reactivated on August 9, 1948, at Camp Funston, the same post at which the division was first organized in 1917. The division surgeon was Col. Felix Shelley Bambace, medical corps. The training division boosted the post census to 12,593 on December 31, 1948, with a hospital census of 252 patients.
In 1949 the hospital hit a home run in the usual peace-time austerity game by having the lowest net cost per inpatient day of all station hospitals in the army. The hospital staff included Col. John Presly Bachman, medical corps, as chief of surgery, and Lt. Col. John Henry Taber, medical corps, as chief of medicine. Colonel Bachman was previously assigned at Fort Riley in 1936 under Colonels Stayer and Bethea. Doctor Taber, a native of Nebraska, was once commissioned in the chemical warfare service. Maj. William W. Smith, medical service corps, was adjutant of the same hospital where he had been sergeant-major in 1939. Lt. Col. Arthur N. Kracht, dental corps, was post dental surgeon, and Maj. John H. Shoemaker, veterinary corps, was post veterinarian. Maj. Susan W. LaFrage, army nurse corps, was chief nurse. Later in the year, Col. Norman H. Wiley, medical corps, was assigned as chief of surgery following his completion of residency training at the University of Pennsylvania, and Maj. Pauline Henriette Girard, army nurse corps, became chief nurse.
XI. Cold-War Medics
In 1950 Col. Norman Hyde Wiley, medical corps, became Fort Riley post surgeon and held the position until 1952. A native of Pennsylvania, Doctor Wiley received his A.B. degree from Lafayette College and earned his M.D. in 1928 from Jefferson Medical College. The hospital staff included Col. Robert W. DuPriest, medical corps, as chief of surgery; Capt. Herbert Tucker, medical corps, as chief of medicine; and Maj. Helen L. Tucker, army nurse corps, as chief nurse. Lt. Col. John M. Abrams, medical service corps, was the hospital executive officer.
On January 1, 1950, the ground general school became the army general school by General Order No. 53, department of the army. There was little functional change, since the officer candidate course, the mythical enemy aggressor, intelligence extension courses and training were all continued. The cold war flamed hot when the Korean conflict began in June, 1950. The increased activity was reflected in a post population of 17,274 on December 31, 1950, and an associated hospital census of 478 patients. As usual, the hospital had been understaffed with professional personnel and to meet the increased patient work-load, six navy medical officers were assigned to Fort Riley in October, 1950.
A series of emergency flood memoranda published in July, 1951, reflect the threatened disaster of the rising Smoky Hill, Republican, and Kansas rivers. Tenth division soldiers worked 24-hour duty tours to reinforce the dike at Camp Funston while dependents were evacuated. Conservation of food supplies, gasoline, and water became mandatory. On July 12, the water was ten feet deep at the Fort Riley railroad station and both Camp Funston and Marshall Field were inaccessible and out of communication. The water level was subsiding by July 17, with the cantonment hospital and Camp Whitside as the only post area to entirely escape the flood.
Throughout the time of the Korean conflict the cantonment hospital served the swollen station complement and the Tenth division with its many training activities. More than 600 major operations were performed in 1952. The chief of surgery, Col. R. W. DuPriest, died of an acute heart attack in April, 1952, and was replaced by Lt. Col. John W. Patterson, medical corps. Less tragic assignments included the appointment of Lt. Col. Clarence B. Johnson, veterinary corps, as post veterinarian, and Maj. Helen L. Staehlin, army nurse corps, as chief nurse of the hospital. Colonel Wiley, the post surgeon, was assigned to Percy Jones Army Hospital on April 29, 1952, and his position was temporarily assumed by Lt. Col. Kenneth Eugene Hudson, medical corps.
Col. Lyman Chandler Duryea, medical corps, was the post surgeon of Fort Riley from August, 1952, through May, 1956. Doctor Duryea was born in Massachusetts and served in the navy from 1917 until 1921. He earned his M.D. degree from the University of Vermont in 1931 and his graduate studies included a master of science in public health from Johns Hopkins University in 1936.
The hospital staff included Lt. Col. Donald Campbell, medical corps, as chief of surgery and Lt. Col. Donald Lavern Howie, medical corps, as chief of medicine. Doctor Campbell was born into an army family stationed in Hawaii and earned his M.D. at Cornell University in 1940. Doctor Howie received his degree in medicine from the State University of Iowa in 1948. Col. Fayette G. Hall, dental corps, replaced Col. Willard LaGrand Nielsen, dental corps, as post dental surgeon. Col. Don L. Deane, veterinary corps, became post veterinarian and Lt. Col. Eleanor R. Asleson, army nurse corps, became chief nurse of the hospital.
The dry facts of hospital statistics hid the tremendous medical team effort responsible for the total number of hospital days-lost decreasing from 191,242 in 1952 to 44,018 in 1954 within a command that averaged 20,000 population during the entire period. The noneffective rate dropped from 26.49 to 6.38 during that time, the lowest of all station hospitals in the army.
Converted artillery barracks, part of the 3,000-bed
World War I base hospital, 1918.
Fort Riley celebrated its centennial in 1953. From many medical aspects, the passing scene could be viewed only with nostalgia. The days of rugged individuals with saddlebag medical kits were gone, and specialty nosomathetes replaced the cavalry surgeons competent in any situation from Indian ambush to garrison amputation. The tremendous veterinary service of the days of the cavalry school had dwindled to a few pampered family pets, and even in the centennial year the number of government retired horses gradually decreased from 43 to 30 and the military police detachment dog platoon was transferred to Camp Carson, Colo. The largest hospital in the history of the state of Kansas, the huge 3,000-bed base hospital of World War I, was only a memory with its remaining buildings now serving as barracks and offices. No trace remained of the medical officers' training camp that prepared almost 30,000 medical soldiers for World War I duty. The real feature of the second half century was the efficient and effective healing team composed of individual doctors, dentists, nurses, veterinarians, administrators, therapists, enlisted technicians, and ancillary personnel within the army medical service. In 1953 the cantonment hospital was capable of handling up to a peak load of 1,000 patients. In addition, eight dispensaries were operated and a blood donor center drew and shipped over one thousand pints of blood each month. The area of medical service extended by Fort Riley had grown from the 50-mile radius of frontier days to a modern hospital that treated military patients from an area that included North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas.
XII. Irwin Army Hospital
Construction of the new hospital began on July 19, 1955, when the first shovel of earth was dug by Lt. Col. Eleanor R. Asleson, army nurse corps, the hospital chief nurse. Over 43 million pounds of concrete have been poured to erect a building 111 feet high with six working floors. No feature of superior medical care has been overlooked. Irwin Army Hospital has a pneumatic tube distribution-communications system with 42 stations and an audio-visual call system which provides two-way conversation between each patient and his ward nurse. Bulk oxygen is piped into all critical medical treatment areas. Approximately six millions of dollars have been spent to build this modern 250-bed hospital. Maj. William J. Deragisch, medical service corps, has been project officer during most of the construction period.
Even in peacetime, military units are transferred and a new technique called gyroscope was utilized at Fort Riley on September 27, 1955, when the Tenth infantry division at Fort Riley and the First infantry division in Germany traded home stations. The division surgeon of the First division (1957) is Lt. Col. John B. White, medical corps. A native of Ohio, Dr. White earned his M.D. in 1927 from the University of Oregon medical school.
Other medical units were in training at Fort Riley. The hospital plant furnished patients, classroom space, and instructors for technical skills. In 1955 the 900th surgical hospital, 388th evacuation hospital and the 928th medical company (ambulance) were released from active duty. Training, continued in the 93d evacuation hospital (semimobile) commanded by Col. Walter B. Lacock, medical corps; the 47th surgical hospital, commanded by Lt. Col. Harold I. Drinkaus, medical corps; and the 58th medical battalion (separate), commanded by Lt. Col. Ross R. Haecker, medical service corps.
Colonel Duryea, post surgeon, was assigned to Washington, D. C., in May, 1956, and his position was assumed by Col. Walter B. Lacock, medical corps. The hospital staff included Lt. Col. Jack T. Rush, medical corps, as chief of surgery, and Maj. Mary C. Jordan, army nurse corps, as hospital chief nurse. Lt. Col. Gerald E. Geise, medical service corps, was hospital executive officer.
Col. Milford Timothy Kubin, medical corps, became post surgeon of Fort Riley in July, 1956. History completed the first full circle for Fort Riley physicians with the assignment of Doctor Kubin, since his first duty station after internship was Fort Riley. First Lieutenant Kubin rode field-patrol with the horse cavalry while Colonel Kubin supervises the evacuation of patients from field maneuvers with helicopters, a change of hospital techniques from horses to helicopters within one professional career. A native of Kansas, M. Tim Kubin earned his degree in medicine from the University of Kansas in 1929 and his graduate studies have included a M.S. in public health from Harvard University in 1946.
Operating room scene in contonment hospital, 1957.
The post dental surgeon is Col. John E. Finnegan, dental corps. Doctor Finnegan was born in Minnesota and received his D. D. S. from the University of Minnesota in 1935. His chief dental assistants include Lt. Cols. C. J. Blum, E. D. Chase, H. G. McMaster, J. C. Sexson, and N. E. Sondergaard, all of the dental corps.
The post veterinarian is Lt. Col. William Ginn, veterinary corps. A native of South Carolina, Doctor Ginn earned his degree in veterinary medicine from Auburn in 1934.
The new Irwin Army Hospital, dedicated February 7, 1958.
The last professional staff of the cantonment hospital and the first of Irwin Army Hospital includes Lt. Col. Robert James Bradley, medical corps, as chief of medical services, and Maj. George E. Omer, Jr., medical corps, as chief of surgical services. Doctor Bradley earned his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, followed by a degree in medicine from the University of Wisconsin in 1945, with his post-graduate residency training in internal medicine at Fitzsimons Army Hospital. Dr. Omer, a Kansan, received an A.B. from Fort Hays Kansas State College, an M.D. from the University of Kansas in 1950, and his post-graduate studies include residency training at Brooke Army Hospital with a master of science in orthopedic surgery from Baylor University. Maj. Florence E. Judd, army nurse corps, became the Fort Riley hospital chief nurse following an assignment at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Major Judd earned her R. N. degree in 1934 from Saint Mary's Hospital in East Saint Louis and her postgraduate studies have earned a B.S. in nursing education from Columbia University and an M.S. in hospital administration from Baylor University. Lt. Col. Virgil T. Yates, medical service corps, is the hospital executive officer. Lieutenant Colonel Yates earned his B.S. and A.B. from Northwest Missouri State Teachers College and postgraduate work includes a master of science in hospital administration from Baylor University.
A Fort Riley Historical Society was founded in August, 1957, under the patronage of Maj. Gen. David H. Buchanan, commanding the First division and Fort Riley. To deposit and display the rich history of Fort Riley and the surrounding community, the first permanent post hospital was dedicated as the Fort Riley Museum on September 20, 1957. It is most appropriate that the first building used to rebuild, administer and preserve the men of Fort Riley should now be used to perpetuate their memory.
Photos courtesy the National Archives, the Armed Forces Medical Library,
and the Photo Laboratory, Fort Riley.
Maj. George E. Omer, Jr., MC, is chief of surgery, Irwin Army Hospital, Fort Riley.
VIII. World War I Hospital
"Annual Report of Fort Riley Post Surgeon," 1942.
W. F. Pride, History of Fort Riley (Topeka, Capper Publications, 1926), pp. 258, 260, 262, 278, 286, 308, 312.
"Report of Sick and Wounded," Army Medical Department: H. L. Brown, February, 1909; J. H. Ford, August, 1909; Paul Greeman, September, 1909; W. P. Kendall, 1910-1912.
Official Army Register, 1945, pp. 611, 1083, 1158, 1220, 1251, 1267, 1368.
Interviews: Mrs. John Hewitt, Wakefield; Mrs. Alan Eustace (Ann Marie Hannon), Route 3, Wakefield; Mrs. Cleary (daughter of Doctor O'Donnell), Junction City.
Letter to Major Judd, chief nurse, U. S. A. H., Fort Riley, from Elizabeth Harding, 30 Park Ave., Apt. 3-D, New York 16, N. Y.
J. K. Herr and E. S. Wallace, The Story of the U. S. Cavalry (Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1953), p. 208.
Junction City Union, June 6, July 19, August 14, 16, 18, September 4, 6, November 19, December 4, 22, 1917; January 21, 1918; June 24, 1953.
The Army Almanac (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1950), p. 90.
Frank Tompkins, Chasing Villa (Harrisburg, Pa., Military Service Publishing Co., 1934), pp. 257-270.
Souvenir of Fort Riley, 1918: "The Base Hospital," p. 13; "Department of Hippology," p. 14; "Medical Officers' Training Camp," p. 18.
Telephone Directories, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1918 and 1919.
Col. Charles Lynch, ed.-in-chief, The Medical Department of the U. S. Army in the World War (Washington, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1921-1929), v. 7, "Training" (Col. William N. Bispham, M. C., ed.), pp. 180-258.
The U. S. Army in World War II (Washington, Office of the Chief of Military History, Department of the Army, 1956), v. 5, "The Medical Department Hospitalization and Evacuation in Zone of Interior" (Clarence McKittrick Smith, ed.), pp. 304-313.
The Military Surgeon, Washington, v. 34 (1914), p. 452; v. 35 (1914), p. 506; v. 36 (1915), p. 289.
Kansas City (Mo.) Star, May 12, 1957.
General Order No. 156, Headquarters, Fort Riley, Kansas, May 18, 1957, Sec. I, naming of O'Donnell Heights.
Fort Riley, Its Historic Past, 1853-1953, pp. 16, 19.
Junction City Republic, June 25, 1953.
IX. Peace-Time Army
Telephone Directories, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1918-1937, 1939, 1940.
"Annual Report of Post Surgeon," Fort Riley, Kansas, 1933, 1935.
Report of the Army Surgeon General, 1904, pp. 11, 12; 1905, p. 52.
Fort Riley, Its Historic Past, 1853-1953, p. 17.
Souvenir of Fort Riley, 1918, p. 14.
Official Army Register, 1945, pp. 62, 72, 203, 235, 257, 326, 438, 446, 618, 624, 676, 713, 730, 885, 941, 1018, 1198, 1238, 1362, 1396.
Ibid., 1957, pp. 207, 862, 984, 999, 1004, 1010-1012, 1021, 1024, 1025, 1045, 1046, 1048, 1051, 1057, 1069, 1073, 1088.
X. World War Cantonment Hospital
"Annual Report of Post Surgeon," Fort Riley Kansas, 1941-1944, 1947-1950.
Jnction City Daily Union, June 24, 1953.
Fort Riley, Its Historic Past, 1853-1953, pp. 9, 10.
Telephone Directories, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1948, 1949.
The Army Almanac, p. 378.
Official Army Register, 1945, pp. 36, 530, 715, 871, 911, 1003, 1367, 1434.
Ibid., 1957, pp. 40, 314, 478, 655, 844, 924, 980, 1007, 1056, 1072.
Personal Interviews: Sfc. William F. Paris, medical detachment, U. S. A. H., Fort Riley; M/Sgt. Lloyd C. Glass, dental detachment, U. S. A. H., Fort Riley; Capt. Glenn Ensworth, medical service corps, headquarters, Fifth U. S. army, Chicago.
XI. Cold-War Medics
"Annual Report, Fort Riley Post Surgeons," 1950-1954.
"Emergency Floor Memoranda," Nos. 1-6, July 11-17, 1951, U. S. A. H., Fort Riley.
Junction City Daily Union, June 24, 1953.
Official Army Register, 1945, p. 269.
Ibid., 1957, pp. 127, 208, 241, 411, 634, 664, 924.
Fort Riley, Its Historic Past, 1853-1953, p. 11.
XII. Irwin Army Hospital
"Army Medical Service Activities Report (Annual Report, Post Surgeon)," Fort Riley, 1954-1956.
"Memorandum Report," Irwin Army Hospital, October 30, 1957, Major Deragisch.
"Officers Roster (RCS ATPER-16)," U. S. A. H., Fort Riley, August 26, 1957.
"AMEDS Personnel Status Report (RCS ALFMD-21)," U. S. A. H. (5021), Fort Riley, December 31, 1956.
"Professional Staff Conference Program," U. S. A. H., Fort Riley, 1956, 1957.
Telephone Directories, Fort Riley, Kansas, 1955-1957.
Official Army Register, 1957, pp. 29, 91, 110, 215, 445, 446, 481, 647, 949.
The American Traveler, Fort Riley, September 18, 1957.