WWII medic honored for aiding the injured PDF Print E-mail
Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor   
Friday, 07 December 2012 10:39
Debi Cambell holds a photo of her father, Charles W. Brown, from his days as a medic in the US Army during World War II. (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
PEMBERVILLE - Today, Charles Brown is awaiting the Christmas holidays from a quiet room in the hospice wing of Otterbein Portage Valley Retirement Center.
But 70 years ago he was in the middle of a vicious island-hopping war with the Japanese empire, armed not with a gun but with IV poles and tourniquets.
Brown, who served as a medic in the Pacific Theater during World War II, was recognized in a brief but heartfelt medal presentation ceremony Sunday afternoon in his room.
The medal, along with a framed certificate and commemorative pen were presented to Brown by Joan Hankins, who is a villa resident at OPV and a very active Hospice of Northwest Ohio volunteer.
Also in the room were two special guests who understood well what Brown's service had meant to the hundreds - perhaps thousands - of young American servicemen who passed through his hands as the bloody months ticked off from 1942 to August 1945. They were fellow World War II veterans Dean Ruemmele and Murel Harple, both current residents of Otterbein Portage Valley Retirement Village.
"He was always so proud of his service," says Brown's daughter, Debi Campbell of Findlay. "He said it was one of the best times, and one of the worst."
Brown saw action in Guam, New Guinea and the Philippines as a member of the 71st Evacuation Hospital, which he describes as being "just like a MASH unit" with the hospital under tents.
Dean Ruemmele, left, and Murel Harple, right, stand at Charles W. Brown's bedside after he was honored with a medal for his service as a US Army medic during World War II. All three men served during World War II.
All three areas, but particularly Guam, saw fierce fighting and thousands of U.S. casualties.
As a medic in a mobile hospital unit, Brown assisted the doctors in surgery, and performed procedures himself like removing shrapnel.
"He was also an X-ray technician," having received specialized training stateside before shipping out for the Pacific via San Francisco.
Brown and the other personnel who served with the 71st Evac Hospital were unusually close, even after the war ended.
"Every year they had reunions. They would travel around the country" to different locales, "the doctors and everybody, and he looked forward to those."
Brown continued to make it a priority to attend those reunions "up until the last five years. Their numbers are dwindling now, of course," said his daughter. "He made a lot of really good, close friends."
A Hospice resident since May, he will mark his 92nd birthday in January.
Brown was born and raised in Rossford, where he still owns a home. He retired in 1980 as the safety director at Libbey-Owens-Ford/Pilkington.
He and his wife raised three children: Campbell; Greg, of Rossford; and Chuck, of Temperance, Mich. He also has five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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