Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Doc Appreciation

A reader wrote in and asked, "How about giving the good old Docs some love and open a discussion in regard to some good sea stories involving the Doc?" An excellent idea. Here's a picture of a submarine MDR at work to spark the discussion:

Personally, I really liked all the MDRs I worked with. What are your favorite stories about the Doc? Their humorous attempts to stand watch as Dive? Their capability to sleep 20 hours/day when nothing was going on? Their legendary capacity to hold their liquor on the beach? Or their ability, as happened on my boat, to save a Shipmate's life by diagnosing an unusual case of cancer while on station and convincing the CO to break off the mission to perform a MEDEVAC.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

An infamous submarine corpsman in Pearl Harbor--circa 1980--tried to give a shot to one of the feet of an injured sailor in the crew's mess. The intrepid corpsman inserted a hypodermic needle into, through, and out the other side of the sailor's foot and into the seat cushion below on a bench in the crew's mess. After thoroughly injecting the seat cushion with medicine, the corpsman withdrew the hypodermic needle and some fresh foam padding from the seat cushion back through the sailor's foot. Fortunately, both the sailor and the seat cushion survived this fiasco.

1/01/2011 6:17 PM

Anonymous Dale said...

My doc on the USS Stonewall Jackson (SSBN-634) when giving out flu shots to the crew.

"The flu shot won't give you the flu; it'll just give you all the symptoms of the flu."

Thanks, Doc!

1/01/2011 6:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the Baton Rouge (SSN-689) around 1990 our doc saved an ET2's penis. His towel came off and he did not prop his middle rack properly when he returned from a shower. Upon the rack slamming down on his "unmentionable", his first reaction was to jerk backwards, therefore stripping his penis off. From what I am told, it was sewn back on and is functional. Yes, it happened in-port...yes, this is a true story. This goes beyond the nickname of being called a "Pecker Checker".

1/01/2011 6:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two days into a two week op, I was on watch as the EO. The Messenger comes to Man. and tells me that I need a relief to go see Doc ASAP. I went forward and Doc asked me if I'd had any itching or rashes. Huh, I asked. Meanwhile, my roommate - one of the guys I hotracked with - is sitting in the corner w/ a shit eating grin.

Doc eventually tells me that EM2 brought aboard "stowaways." Turns out my roomie had been to Tijuana and picked up crabs.

To make a long story short, Doc confiscated ALL of my clothes, bedding, towels, etc. I got issued a couple of poopie suits and a loaned t-shirt that I used as a towel. Normally my poopie suits had to be altered because I was too tall for the standard issue. So, to add insult to injury, I had to wear a poopie suit that was about four inches too short for the entire op.

BTW, Doc did issue cream to use just in case. Fortunately none of the stowaways hitched a ride with me.

1/01/2011 6:49 PM

Blogger Vigilis said...

All of the Hospital Corpsmen I have ever known on various boats or later (worked with one in industry for more than 15 years) were intelligent, upstanding gentlemen upon whom we could rely as much as our Marines had. Every one of them was a total character of sorts in his own right.

One kept a monkey at home as a pet; another sold serapes he would buy in Tijuana, etc.

One HMCS(SS) USN, Retired from SSN-687 even used to blog here, and even in places like this this.

1/01/2011 6:54 PM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

Anyone else ever serve on a boat with the quack as the COB?

1/01/2011 7:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc Akin, San Fran - 6 years
ago this month. Damn fine man! God
bless yah Doc!


1/01/2011 8:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last Doc I had was an HMCM(SS) It did not matter what you went to him for he would give you motrin and foot powder and send you on your way. I think he was just trying to make it to retirement.

1/01/2011 9:08 PM

Anonymous Laughter in Manslaughter said...

Best doc ever was HMC Miller who was on his second boat tour and had done shore duty in Iraq. Cause you know, to relax from his 3 years on his first boat was to get shot at. He didn't give a shit about political correctness or anything else, he took care of us way more than a doc should.

Worst doc ever was an HM1 who would sleep 22 hrs a day, cut the chow line, lecture people about how they were getting fat, and got a NAM for, quote the XO, being "The hardest working 1st class on board". Fast forward 4 months to a new Chain of Command and he was relieved and kicked off for failing multiple inspections. Turns out those 22 hr nap days were courtesy of completely ignoring all paperwork.

1/01/2011 10:46 PM

Anonymous SubGuy said...

Every IDC I served with was a true professional with one exception - HM1 that took the XO only 6 weeks to get rid of...I think the HM1 was not there voluntarily. HMC when I was XO qualified Sonar Operator, Fathometer Watch, and COW. He begged to be on the watchbill, but it was often tough - COB always had to have an immediate standby for him.

Toast the IDCs! They make some tough calls!

1/02/2011 6:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had investigators come aboard my boat in the 80s. They were looking at the drug records. Apparently during the previous deployment, the CO was in a lot of pain and kept it from everyone but the HMC. HMC fed him morphine and other stuff - lots of it! XO denied all knowledge, but that seems incredulous. CO had COC a few months after RTP and died of some cancer 2 months later. Buried at sea.

1/02/2011 6:40 AM

Blogger Kurt said...

I was an HMC on the USS Henry M. Jackson SSBN 730 Gold crew. I am somewhat a practical joker. I had a 171 people to pick on. Sewing a crewman's penis to his belly was by far the best I did (he was sleeping off a drunk). The crew treated me like a king. I have fond memories of my tour with them.

1/02/2011 7:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doc on FF would sleep so long we used to wake him and and get him to roll over so he wouldn't get flat on one side. Best way to wake him up was shake a bag of poker chips next to his bunk curtain.


1/02/2011 7:58 AM

Blogger SJV said...

In my days the IDC's had all mostly done tours in NAM before going IDC. RCB (some of you will know who...) used to tell us we used more rubbers underway than in port, and he bragged about BOCU day. If you left your boondockers out, he'd ask you if you noticed anything funny in them when you got up, and then suggest that he'd spunked in them. I'm pretty sure it was true, though!! Crazy, but fun and highly competent. His only flaw to me was that he fully supported the CO, who was a weak link (and revealed himself in due time).

1/02/2011 9:25 AM

Blogger iotech said...

Back in '88, in the 641 (USS Simon Bolivar)(Blue) our Doc was HM1 Reynolds. A competent Doc (except for that little PPD-shot incident), he really did give a damn about the crew. Man sure could sleep though...
So, we're in the middle of TRE somewhere in the Bahamas. I'm on watch at Launcher (in the Missile Compartment, starboard fwd on 640 class boats), when the General Alarm goes off and the COW informs us there is a fire in the forward compartment, fire in the laundry. We get our compartment rigged, then hear the word passed on 1MC "There is an injured man. Petty Officer XXX has been injured. Evacuating Petty Officer XXX to Triage in the Missile Compartment, Corpsman, lay to the Missile Compartment!"
In those days, the Launcher watch station was delimited with hanging chains, marking the boundaries of the Launcher Supervisors territory. The forward chain was on Tube 3, so I could only go that far forward. The Triage area was in the fwd starboard corner of the Missile Compartment, just forward of my limit of travel. I'm at the chain, straining to see whats going on when the WTD opens and a shipmate comes through, assisting the injured PO XXX. PO XXX gets deposited in the triage corner, blood streaming down his forehead from a nice 1.5" gash in his noggin. As the Doc (still) hasn't arrived, I ask PO XXX what happened. Turns out he got bashed in the head with a fire extinguisher while putting out a small fire in the XOs skivvies. Across the compartment, I hear the sickbay door open, shut, and finally the Doc rounds the corner, obviously rubbing sleep from his eyes. He squats down near PO XXX, and without even looking at him, opens his bag, removes a battle dressing, places it on PO XXX's forehead, and places XXX's hand on it to hold it in place.

Still in the wrapper.

I say "Doc... um.. this isnt a drill. He's really bleeding."
Without missing a beat, and staring at ME, the Doc reaches to the wrapped dressing, pulls it off XXX's head, opens it, removes the dressing, presses it back on XXX's head and says "I knew that!"

Good times!

1/02/2011 10:43 AM

Blogger wtfdnucsailor said...

I look back in awe of the IDCs that I had the honor of being on the same boat as they were. I never had one that did not know his stuff and his limitations. The Doc that nursed an officer through an impacted wisdom tooth, a CPO through an inflamed appendix, and a rider with a broken arm (The break did not heal during the deployment but the bones stayed perfectly aligned so that it was an easy fix when we finally got back into port. Another who, during a flu outbreak in 1968 nursed some twenty patients, including this writer, through the disease without missing a beat but he did run out of antibiotics. A third corpsman who, after the XO had a fainting spell during a ship's picnic, spent the night with him to make sure it was not a heart attack or a stroke. He would have done the same for any other member of the crew. Then, as a CO, there was the corpsman who told me I had to get a crewman medivaced as soon as possible because he was not able to treat his problem adequately. We did and the shipmate survived the ordeal. And lastly, the Chief Corpsman who left SEADRAGON in 1968 to join SCORPION on her last deployment. My MDR memories are all good. I wish some of my civilian doctors were as dedicated.

1/02/2011 11:19 AM

Anonymous Movie Night said...


I want this guy to be my next XO (although I am guessing his career is probably over...1st one for 2011):

1/02/2011 12:00 PM

Anonymous submarines once... said...

Many years ago enroute a mission of unparalleled importance....a member of the crew came down with a very serious infection in his lower leg. Remember the corpsman pulling one reference...all would turn out okay; the second reference...he was gonna die.
A few messages later with Tycom Doc and we pressed on-he recovered just fine.
First port after the op...Doc you need to have an odd number of references...throw one out or buy another!

1/02/2011 12:50 PM

Blogger Mike said...

My doc got caught blazing miles of paperwork for the cones TLDs. Guys were turning them in for a read and he would put a new sticker on it and hand it right back out.

I think he actually did some time in the brig.

1/02/2011 2:47 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with many. All my docs were outstanding. They suffered thru the teasing and ridicule about being 3M coordinators (movies, meals and matress).

One that sticks in my mind was while on a specop (early July), one of my brand new STSs (reported early June)couldn't sit right at the stack. I chewed him out. Came back next watch, he was sitting int he same position. Once again, I chewed on him when the Sonar Sup told me he was having a really bad problem sitting in one position. I told him to get relieed and go see the doc, which he did. Two hours later I was informed by the COB we were pulling off station for the new STSs medcial problem. HUH?!?!? WTF?!?!

We did the did the medivac, went back on station, finished the specop in very early Aug. Called home to wife and she informed me that the STS had cancer. Two days later, he passed away.

All I haveto say to all the docs I have had is thanks for the outstanding job you have done!!! True profesionals!

HN to HM2 1982 to 87.

1/02/2011 3:43 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The late Doc Ellis from the 636 blue crew was a character, but stood watches and took care of the crew. He was a good man to have aboard.

1/02/2011 3:48 PM

Blogger Rubber Ducky said...

I was lucky enough to have two great corpsmen in my boat, an HMC (SS) who had the job and an RMC (SS) who had been a combat corpsman with the marines in Vietnam before converting and going into submarines. When the chips were down (e.g., sailor with a heart attack at sea), they both worked together flawlessly.

Earlier post: HMC (SS) Doc Scott was the COB in SS-244 many moons ago. Stood COW watch underway. Good quack too. And could eat more lobsters than anyone else aboard (we had a 3rd-class aboard named Abbott, of the family that owned (and still owns) Noank Abbott's Lobsters In The Rough; lunch every Friday in port was lobsters, all you could eat).

1/02/2011 3:57 PM

Anonymous STSC said...

HMCM Jerry Coss was COB of the HMJ (Blue). No idea how he was as a corpsman but he was an alright COB. Man had arms like an orangutan but was the shortest guy onboard. Alot of RPM's would get left for his booster seat on the messdecks in lieu of telephone books. He took all the ribbing with good grace.
Our actual Doc on that boat and I disagreed strongly on a few things (cleaning primarily) but he never let our arguments affect how he took care of me when I went to see him.

Our Corpsman on the WHALE probably saved my life by getting me to the hospital when I was jaundiced. He flipped after looking at me for 2 seconds. I was MEDEVAC'd less than a week later from the hospital (now the NACC) in Groton to Bethesda.

The PH DOC Miller referenced was relieved at the end of his tour on the boat by another Doc Miller - both were great Docs.

I've had the 'take 2 Motrin' for anything variety of Docs as well as the 'more time in the rack than awake' type but all did a great job taking care of my shipmates and I when the crap hit the fan.

Saw a Doc give the Heimlich to a choker in Crew's Mess - saved his life and went right back to his Radcon paperwork as if nothing had happened.

Oh, and thanks to my first Boat Doc for the shot in the ass & the pills to cure the drip before we made it back to homeport on my 2nd deployment!

1/02/2011 4:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Lead ELT, I had to do the dosimetry report every month for my HM1 Doc and remind him of what it all meant. Not sure I understood why they were considered the Radiation Health Physicist on board. None of them knew squat about radiation.

1/02/2011 5:50 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

HMCS on my first boat was the guy who save the ass (no pun intended) of our MS1 who was found passed out shitting blood in Fwd Crews head on Spec Op.

HM1 on my second boat was a good guy who also forwarded my blood tests to recruiter school in Pensacola with the note attached, "You're clean, not even HIV. Love and kisses, HM1 XXXXX."

1/02/2011 7:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

HMC onboard Hale was an outstanding leader. Beside standing COW, he took a leadership role in conducting drills, training, and qualifying. He did sleep quite a bit though, so much so that we nicknamed him Lids.

1/02/2011 8:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Worst was on 720 HM1"Dragonbreath" he had a tumor removed in his mouth, due to chewing tobacco, and said "it's great because now I can keep a dip in the hole and nobody knows I'm chewing." Best on 720 HM1 now HMCS took good care of the crew and gave out shit when needed.

1/02/2011 9:10 PM

Anonymous 623 said...

Our HMC was so lonely that it was like visiting the Hermit from Young Frankenstein. For those who don't remember or were too young for this '74 classic:

This was the most watched movie onboard back then.

1/02/2011 10:09 PM

Blogger Ret ANAV said...

HM1 Andy P. on KAM late '90s. Joined late after spending several years as a NYC Paramedic (Most burn out in half the time he put in). Joined the Navy late (because he was bored, as he tells it) and spent some time with FMF, then came to submarines (again, because he was bored, I guess). Had a dual Masters - Why he wasn't an MD was beyond a LOT of us! Made HMC eventually and lost track of him after DECOM. Best IDC most of us had ever, or will ever meet!

1/03/2011 3:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One day the Doc had his microscope out for PM's. Ha, just kidding. I think he was moving it to make room for his gedunk. Anyway, a couple of the guys saw it and thought it would be might be a fun way to burn time on station. They supplied the samples, and Doc showed them their sperm counts. One guy got concerned because his swimmers looked a little under nurished, but Doc told him it was probably because the better ones were left in a sock recently, and this fresh batch had little time to mature. He agreed and felt better.


1/03/2011 6:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike said...

My doc got caught blazing miles of paperwork for the cones TLDs. Guys were turning them in for a read and he would put a new sticker on it and hand it right back out.

I think he actually did some time in the brig.

Queenfish? Or maybe this is more common than I thought....

1/03/2011 9:14 AM

Blogger itswells said...

Every HM I had was top-notch when it came to corpsman skeelz. We had an HM1 qual'd COW and he stood it as long as there was a qual'd COW standing by (usually as a DOOW UI). Despite being good HM's, there were a couple total A-Holes that climbed up the Chiefs ranks. I won't mention specific names (Big Al).
Nowadays, HM1's get to the boat with 2 or 3 warfare pins already...they have to to stay competitive I guess.
STSCS(SS) USN (Ret) '85-'05

1/03/2011 11:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On four boats and six Doc’s, my first and my last were the greatest. From what I understand, on the Drum, Doc Smith had done some tours in Nam and there wasn’t anything that he had not seen. On the Chicago, Doc Ryan was responsible for saving the life of our Chop. I would have trusted those two to do anything with me.

That Damn Good Looking Aganger From Iowa

1/03/2011 12:22 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

I had some great Doc's on boats, too, but the greatest I remember was the HM1 on my 3rd boat, not so much for what he did for the crew (they were all great), but what he did to save my own personal ass. During a Tiger cruise I had my 2 boys onboard. We had a little folding chair in the goat locker that my youngest son loved to sit on, in spite of numerous warnings from me to stay off it. I left him in the locker to go get some ice cream from the mess decks for him and his brother, when I heard "Corpsman, lay to the Chief's Quarters." I ran to the locker to find my little boy there on the table, screaming at the top of his lungs with his left index finger covered in a blood-soaked towel. He had his hand under the chair when it folded up on him and nearly amputated his index finger. Doc Kerruish calmed him down, sutured his finger up, bandaged it, with the precision of a seasoned surgeon. He met my wife on the pier when we returned, discussed it with her, gave her care instructions and likely saved me from certain death by screaming. What a great Corpsman! Doc K, thanks for all you did for me!

1/03/2011 1:36 PM

Blogger Denis said...

I was an HM1, Preventive Medicine Tech, on the Howard W. Gilmore, AS-16. in the late 1970s. I was thinking about switching from PMT to IDC and going on the boats. So, I asked the Chief Corpsman on one of the boats (I will conceal the name of the Chief and the boat in order to protect the guilty) about his routine when he was underway. He told me that it was often boring; a lot of paperwork, a little minor surgery, that was about it. Then he tells me that he did work on the XO's ingrown toenails though -- and that broke the tedium. He then described a rather painful (and out-dated) technique of injecting the toe with a local anesthetic, then cutting the nail down the middle with surgical scissors, followed by making transverse cuts and pulling out the top half of the toenail of the big toe. After wincing in pain at the thought of it, I asked him why he didn't just go in and pull the root of the nail, so he wouldn't have to put his XO through that again. The Chief looked at me like I was simple and asked, "Then what would I do when we're at sea?"

1/03/2011 5:55 PM

Blogger Dave in St. Louis said...

When I reported to USS Michigan (Blue) back in 1982, it was shortly after commissioning. They had an actual Medical Officer on-board in addition to the Independent Duty Corpsman (an HMC). The LT qualified Dive and got his dolphins. The HMC did most everything.

1/05/2011 10:15 AM

Blogger AB- said...

On the 594 during Specop we had an A-Ganger that had some type of problem with his nuts. He originally was placed on bed rest but after a day or two he could barely get out of his rack to piss and the HM1 got a little worried. He had the A-ganger lay on the bench and he made a small incision in his sack and rooted around with one of those long q-tip things. There were 30 or so squids circled around watching the spectacle. After a few minutes, HM1 was satisfied, sewed his sack up and sent him back to his rack. 8 hours later the A-ganger was up and eating. A day later he was back on the watch bill and giving the nubs (me) dog piles in the room.

1/07/2011 3:09 PM

Anonymous Mercury Joe said...

During a drill one of those dang 3/8 inch thick steel ladder hatchcovers came off the hook and slammed down on my toes. I was waiting to go down to ERF on a 688 and I had to step aside to let someone pass. Next thing I know it felt like I had dropped my feet in liquid N2.

I am down on the deck with no idea what happened. Doc comes back aft and take my shoes off. There I was with 9 clean breaks on my toes.

They take me up to the wardroom and lay me out. My toes are starting to swell due to the damage and he looks at me and smiles. He nicely tells me that this may smart a bit but he has to do it. He then JAMS a needle UNDER each and every toenail to vent the blood out. He then sets all the toes and orders me to the rack on light duty.

When we got back to port (no medivac as he did not consider it life threatening) I found out that he set the toes so well they decided to let it stay as it was.

YEARS later after I was out he walks in the Pepboy were I was working and to my suprise REMEMBERS me. He asks me how my toes are. Mind you, he had retired by this point and had no idea I worked there.

HMC(SS) 'Doc' Butts, you are a great man. I was proud to sail with you.

1/08/2011 11:24 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Semi-related: Seems the doctor who treated (is treating) Rep. Giffords over the weekend is a former Navy doc:,0,5943156.story

1/10/2011 7:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our current Doc is very surly. He has said that when clams arrive in November, he will treat them just like the rest of us. Motrin above the waist, foot powder below.

Recently when leaving a foreign port, former US Base, one of the crew went to Doc and said "Doc, I have to shit all the time". Doc's response "Stop Eating".

1/11/2011 1:19 PM

Anonymous Eustacia said...

Quite worthwhile info, thank you for the article.

9/14/2012 12:04 PM


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