Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #214
…There were as nearly as many burials at sea than had they been sunk…
Judith Eastman and Mary Pickford do not put 10 miles behind them on the way to California, when a telegram arrives at the Pearson-Eastman residence. No one is home. It goes undelivered. Had she been there, as Harv had assumed, the piece of yellow paper would have read:
MY DEAREST JUDITH stop HAVE LEFT PARIS stop SHOULD ARRIVE NEW YORK 10/7 stop CANNOT WAIT TO HOLD YOU stop LOVE HARV end
He will regret not sending the telegram from Paris.
In spite of the coming missed communications, so begins an, albeit, short career as a naval officer aboard the destroyer U.S.S. Chesapeake Bay at the age of 63. Those eight days were gratefully uneventful, at least below the waterline.
Above it, it was another story. There were as nearly as many burials at sea than had they been sunk, or so it seemed. The deck by deck segregation worked for a couple of days, but the devil’s disease finally took hold of the Chesapeake, racing from one sailor to the next. The pattern of taking those in their prime, 20 to 30 years old holds true, men who are or would have been husbands and fathers.
Had they had to go to battle stations, a number of stations would have gone unmanned, such was the carnage. They were a floating sitting duck.
Word from the other ships in the convoy varies. They seem to be the worse-off naval vessel–it could not get much worse. While the troop-transports hold their own, they are ticking time bombs, likely infectious to anyone who comes in contact with them in the States.
The Chesapeake medical officer finally had the good sense to issue every last surgical mask to those who remain, realizing that one does not have to touch a carrier individual, that it is a dreaded airborne virus; the best possible method of transmission.