‘Doc’

Today, Veterans Day, I’m thinking of my dad, Harold Levy, who served on the destroyer-escort USS Menges in WWII.

Dad’s rank was that of pharmacist’s mate, a perfect slot for him as he always dreamed of being a doctor. The night the Menges was practically torn in half by a torpedo launched from a German submarine, the ship’s doctor was away, on loan to another vessel in the convoy. So my father was in charge of tending to the many wounded and dying. From his journal:

“Had GQ [General Quarters] at one, surface target astern of the convoy. We went back to investigate—a game of cat and mouse. We were the mouse. We were trapped—hit by an acoustic torpedo aft. Dreadful. . . . Now I know what war is.”

My father received the Legion of Merit for his tireless work that night. He never did make it to medical school. He worked for the federal government. He moonlit in the shoe department at Sears, and as a floorwalker at the late Raleigh’s clothing store. But after that night, his shipmates called him “Doc,” and years later, at reunions of the Menges personnel that he and my mom used to attend, they still called him that.

The photos show him as a new enlistee; the ship underway; and inoculating sailors on board.

 

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