He Was An Old Salt

Since the Corpsmen used to give us short arm inspections, we use to call them pecker checkers. Of course if you needed one he was Sir. I smashed my right index finger under a 20 MM box of ammo and it was swelled up and black and blue and killing me. I went to see the Corpsman as I needed some relief. He had a big paper clip which he unwound so as to have a single round piece sticking out. He held it over a Zippo until it was red hot and put it to my finger nail. When it burnt it’s way through it went straight to the bone and the blood flew all over and I let out a yell that could be heard all the way to Po Hang Dong, down by the sea. After the blood let up the pressure was off and so was the pain. I had to hold it above my heart for a few days as every time my heart beat it would throb. I also had a few stitches put in by the same Doc and he should have been a surgeon. He was an old salt with tattoos from one end to the other but he knew his business. I was told he was a hold over from the Island campaigns.

Sgt. Dan Powell
52-55

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6 comments


  • Bill Beam

    Semper Fi, brother!


  • Sgt Kevin C. Weides, ELMACO, 1st FSR

    I had a similar experience with a very good Corpsman in DaNang in 1969. I was due for six vaccinations and one of them was the GG. The Corpsman told me to point my toes inboard and bend over, he took 3 syringes in each hand and bingo I had my 6 shots all at once, 3 in each cheek and no pain except for the GG that left a limp in my ass for a couple of hours. Talk about skill!


  • R. Jacob 1970-1984

    Sgt Powell, That trick has hung around. I was a tank commander at 29 Stumps on a CAX in the1980 time frame. We had been told we could be “gassed” by A-4’s spraying CS during the exercise. We were herring-boned waiting to move when they came over. Yelling “Gas, gas, gas” over the net, I grabbed the TC’s hatch and slammed it closed on my left index finger. Within seconds the nail looked like a purple dime and hurt like hell. After the all clear, I got the attached Corpsman to take a look as I thought I had crushed it. He told me the bone was fine, and asked if I had a needle. I asked why, and he told me I could keep the nail and not lose it. I got one out of my sewing kit and gave it to him. He heated it red hot and was a little more careful than your Doc. It melted thru the nail, the blood spurted and the pain left. I kept the nail, and the hole got gradually trimmed away as the nail grew. Didn’t have many interactions in the field with Corpsmen during my career, but everytime the Doc’s were professional and concerned. Besides, I had been trained since I was a private that you don’t mess with the Corpsman who controls your shotcard.


  • David S. Martinez

    In 1971, a buddy and I were buffing my barracks room floor at MCAS Yuma for the next day’s inspection. When he decided to “ride’em cowboy” by sitting on the motor and holding on to the handle for a spinning good time. It looked like fun so I thought, “what’s the harm?. Ha! The harm was that the damn thing spun me off and the handle came around smacked me in the mouth! I flew back into my rack, laughing all the way! Laughing, until I saw my buddy’s facial expression of sheer panic! My lower lip was split in two and blood was on the floor, rack and me! It was sometime after 2300 hours when he drove me to sickbay. The corpsman on duty also panicked when he saw the bloody towel I was holding to my face. But funny thing was the first thing he asked was, “Who hit you? We need to put him on report.”! My buddy covered for me by saying that I had reached for the cord and let go of the handle. Well, the doc decided to wake the duty doctor for this bloody incident. Wrong move doc! The sleepy, pissed off Lt. Commander looked at me and asked me “Who hit you?”! My buddy stuck to our story. The doctor than told the doc, “stitch him up and don’t wake me again!”. The docs look of panic returned as he said, “Sir, I’ve never done this before!”! My look of panic came back when the Lt. Commander retorted, “Well, you have to learn sometime!”. To this day, I proudly wear the eight jagged stitches that start outside my lower lip and continue around to the inside down by the gum line! The running joke back at my avionics shop was to try to make me laugh so that I would bust my stitches! Love you jarheads! And thanks to that fresh doc whoever he was!


  • Thomas Gray

    Bill Cosby was a Corpsman.


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