At some point in WWII, the Armed Forces of the United States realized that many citizens drafted were mentally unfit for service. So, Dr. Charlton Gilmore Holland, Jr. (“Gilly”), a young assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, was drafted into the Army. He was sent to Australia, New Guinea, and finally to the Philippines. His assignment was to determine whether soldiers were mentally fit for combat either by the use of traditional psychiatric interviews or through the use of an electrocardiogram. He also practiced general medicine. He wrote letters home to his wife Louise and son as frequently as he could, about his patients, working as a physician under combat conditions, and dealing with his colleagues and the Army bureaucracy. A must read for those interested in the war in the South Pacific.
“I noticed the Filipinos on the shore seemed to be waving to us just before we beached in the shallow water. I looked a second time, and knew they were warning us to get low in the Alligator. Just after I dropped below the sides of the Alligator and looked up, I saw this infantryman’s shirt turn red at his left shoulder, and I heard the spatter of machine gun bullets hitting the sides of the Alligator. We pulled on shore in the lee of a small hillock, I removed the ammo while ducking bullets.”