University of Minnesota

“If It Isn’t Fun.” – Back in the Service Again

While I was resident at the American Hospital of Paris, the Korean War broke out. As Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Naval Reserve, I assumed that I would soon be back in uniform. Meanwhile, I had become well acquainted with U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) colleagues at the American Embassy in Paris, and was aware of a problem and opportunity they had with their Salzburg office. Saddled with a need to examine some 20,000 displaced persons (DP’s), candidates for U.S. immigration visas, in the 18 months remaining of Congress’s Displaced Persons Act, they were concerned not only with the competence of the medical person in place but with the possibility of collusion in passing visa candidates ineligible because of excludable medical conditions.

It occurred to the chief Public Health Service officer in Paris, Captain N., that I might provide a solution to the problem, as “his man in Salzburg.” He mused that it should be simple enough to request Washington to transfer my Navy commission to the Public Health Service at an equivalent or perhaps higher rank, now that I had two years’ post-doctoral training. I was enthusiastic. Earlier during my European sojourn, I had taken a ski vacation in Austria and had fallen in love with its ancient culture and with the glory of the  East Alps.

Thus, in early fall 1950, I found myself with prospects of a job (the USPHS letter said: “…your compensation without dependents will be $4,486.56 per annum”), and a wife — “une vie, quoi!” We were soon to live and work in the heart of Europe where we were both enamored of the mountains and the culture. For all this good fortune I was one happy Cracker.

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