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... As the twentieth century’s first “Great War” erupted on the European stage the United States held to a policy of “strict neutrality” under President Woodrow Wilson.
... In 1914, the American population numbered 99, 111,000 people across 48 states.
... Many “firsts” appeared in this country including the first Mother’s Day (9 May), the first electric traffic signal (5 August), the first mail delivery by automobile (19 Oct), the first appearances of the Tastykake in Philadelphia, Pa., and slugger Babe Ruth in a major league game (ironically as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox!)
... Few movies were more popular that year than Keystone comedies, and none was bigger than the first six-reel feature film, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance” starring Charlie Chaplin, Mabel Normand and Marie Dressler.
... Popular books included James Joyce’s The Dubliners; The Adventures of Peter Cottontail by ecologist Thornton Burgess; and the pulp novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs featuring characters “John Carter” and “Tarzan.”
In 1914, as the “world war” commenced “over there,” the Navy Medical Department remained a small peacetime organization consisting of 21 active duty dentists, 1,437 Hospital Corpsmen, 135 nurses, and 311 physicians. The Navy operated 19 hospitals stateside and abroad in Annapolis, Md., Brooklyn, N.Y., Cañacao, P.I., Chelsea, Mass., Great Lakes, Ill., Guam, Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Las Animas, Colo., Mare Island, Calif., Narragansett Bay, R.I., Norfolk, Va., Olongapo, P.I., Philadelphia, Pa., Port Royal, S.C., Portsmouth, N.H., Puget Sound, Wash., Tutuila (America Samoa), Washington, D.C. and Yokohama (Japan).
In 1914, the leading causes of death for Navy and Marine Corps personnel were: Drowning (42), Tuberculosis (38), Pneumonia (33) and Gunshot wounds (30).
Injuries due to gunshot wounds increased from 67 (in 1913) to 148 in 1914. Venereal diseases continued to cause a problem for the Navy and Marine Corps. In 1914, the admissions for Chancroid (2,908), Gonorrhea (5,703) and Syphilis (1,332) increased from the previous year. Although typhoid cases had reached a record low of 13 in 1914, Navy physicians identify a naval officer as a carrier of typhoid germs. The name of this officer is never publicly released and he was placed on the retired list for physical disability during the year.
Rear Adm. William Braisted, a former Atlantic Fleet Surgeon and White House Physician, was appointed the 15th Surgeon General of the Navy on February 7, 1914. During his tenure (1914-1920), Braisted established special training schools for the Hospital Corps, oversaw the construction of USS Relief (the only Navy ship built specifically for use as a floating hospital) and steered the Medical Department through World War I.
In his first Annual Report, Rear Adm. William Braisted makes note of value of recreational clubs and activities in the Navy. “In Samoa an enlisted men’s club has been organized, and the medical officer states that its value cannot be overestimated. It affords various means of amusement, such as magazines and newspapers, player piano, Victrola, pool tables, and bowling alleys. In the Atlantic Reserve Fleet a compartment on the Mississippi was set aside for recreation purposes and this was the subject of commendation by the medical officer because of its good effect in increasing contentment and improving the morale.”
After three years without a basic school of instruction, BUMED established the Hospital Corps School Newport, R.I. (September 1914) to prepare hospital corpsmen in subjects anatomy, physiology, minor surgery, hygiene and sanitation, clerical work, chemistry, material medica and pharmacy. Coinciding with this school’s establishment was the publication of the first edition of the Hospital Corps Handbook. Originally known as the “Handy-Book of the Hospital Corps” this 194-page “ready reference” was designed to be used by hospital corpsmen under instruction as well those throughout the service.
In his third year as Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels issued “General Order 99” prohibiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages on board all Navy ships and at Navy stations. The one exception to this rule is made in the case of ship doctors who are allowed to maintain a limited supply of spirits on hand for medical purposes.
On April 21, 1914, U.S. Sailors and Marines skirmish with Mexican forces at Tampico leading to a six-month occupation of Veracruz, Mexico. Two Navy physicians (Surgeons Middleton Elliott and Cary Langhorne) and one Hospital Corpsman (William Zuiderveld) are awarded the Medal of Honor for their role in this engagement.
On 10 July 1914, Lt. Cmdr. Ulyss Webb, MC, USN (1874-1947) established the 4th Marine Regiment Field Hospital on North Island, San Diego, Calif. This would mark the beginning of Navy Medicine’s 100 year history in San Diego.