Special Dispatch to the Globe
FORT DEVENS. Aug. 20—The Army Medical Corps has “really come into its own” in this war and the wounded GI is the first to admit it, says Lt Col James F. Collins of Norwood, formerly division surgeon of the famed Americal Division. Col Collins recently returned from the Southwest Pacific and is attached to Lovell General North Hospital.
Wounded soldiers from all fighting fronts have sung the praises of the medics for their dauntless courage in facing enemy fire to succor the wounded, and Col Collins agrees with them. “I have been in intimate contact with the medical service and I have seen countless instances of bravery performed by the medic corpsmen,” he said; “so many, in fact, that I would not select one above the others.” He admitted, under questioning, that he had had “a few close shaves myself’’ during the fighting on Guadalcanal and Bougainville.
The medical corpsmen now are more highly trained than ever before, Collins said, and have the benefit of newly-discovered drugs, such as the sulfa drugs and penicillin, which help reduce battle mortalities.
Graduating from Norwood High School, Col Collins took his premedical course at Holy Cross. It was there he met Rev. Laurence Brock, later chaplain of the 182d Infantry, which formed part of the Americal Division.
“He was a scholastic there,” the colonel recalled, “and used to rap me on the head if I fell asleep.” The colonel remarked on the affectionate regard the men of the 182d have for Fr. Brock, who recently came through the Overseas Reception Station here.
Col Collins was graduated from Tufts Medical School and interned at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, where he met his wife, the former Ann Sheehan, and at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea. He began his practice in Gloucester. He joined the Massachusetts National Guard a year before it was federalized and was commanding officer of Company A of the 101st Medical Regiment of the 26th Division when the Japanese hit Pearl Harbor. He went overseas shortly after.
Col Collins today stressed that mail from home is still the No. 1 morale builder overseas. “If things are well at home, the boys will carry on.” he said.
The colonel’s greatest thrill in reaching the States was the sight of his 2 1/2-year-old daughter. Nancy, who he was seeing for the first time.