Physician Soldier: The South Pacific Letters of Captain Fred Gabriel from the 39th Station Hospital
Texas A&M University Press, Jul 9, 2020 - 344 pages
Frederick R. Gabriel graduated from medical school in 1940, entered the US Army, and was assigned to the newly-created 39th Station Hospital. His letters from the Pacific theater--especially from Guadalcanal, Angaur, and Saipan--capture the everyday life of a soldier physician. His son, Michael P. Gabriel, a professional historian, has faithfully preserved, edited, and annotated that correspondence to add a new dimension to our understanding of the social history of World War II, which he presents here in Physician Soldier: The South Pacific Letters of Captain Fred Gabriel from the 39th Station Hospital.
Like most wartime hospitals, the 39th Station Hospital was positioned in a rear area and saw limited direct action. And like most wartime hospitals, the 39th Station Hospital spent each day confronting the injuries and casualties of frontline combat. Gabriel supervised a ward and oversaw the unit's laboratory, serving a hospital that provided care to four hundred patients at a time.
Gabriel's letters home capture this experience and more, providing a revealing look into day-to-day life in the Pacific theater. He discusses the training of medical officers and female nurses, recreational activities such as Bob Hope's USO show, and even his thoughts on the death of FDR, the end of the war in Europe, and ultimately the horrors of the atomic bomb.