PEOPLE Memorial Day
LWer serves on hospital ship off Vietnam coast
by Cathie Merz
Pat Benedict, Mutual 17, is a retired Navy nurse, who served 23 years of active duty.
Pat was the commander of the nursing corps on the USS Repose from September 1965-January 1967, 18 months, off the coast of Vietnam. She worked in operating room and central services, sterilizing equipment and making sure everything was ready for the incoming wounded.
The USS Repose was permanently deployed to Southeast Asia and earned the nickname “Angel of the Orient.” The ship operated mainly in the I Corps area, near the DMZ. At night she followed the war, knowing where the next battle would be. At one point they were at sea for 60 days without returning to Suisan Bay, Philippines, to resupply.
There were 25-26 nurses and a lot of corps running the ship. The ship had three operating rooms. Triage was done outside on the deck.
“The crew was great,” she said, “and the teamwork was outstanding.”
Pat still hears from a couple of the corpsmen.
The USS Repose was the first hospital ship to have frozen blood banks. When the ship ran short of blood, they would wake up the crew and draw blood from them.
During the time Pat was on the ship, 4,927 patients were brought aboard by helicopter;1,758 were critically injured in combat and more than 2,000 surgeries were performed. At times they would work 30 hours straight in the O.R.
Pat remembers her first casualty, Mike Kneely. He had stepped on “Old Mother Hubbard,” a land mine, and lost both of his legs. He came onto the ship with belts tied on to both stubs to stop the bleeding. They stabilized him and medevaced him to the Philippines. Later he was transferred to the amputee center in Oakland.
That was when it hit her, “We are at war!”
Once a helicopter pilot almost missed the ship because he was so tired having made so many trips, she said.
Another patient she remembers was an injured soldier who came on to the ship with his hand held close to his chest. “We have a live grenade here,” a corpsman reported. The corpsmen were able to get a pin back into the grenade without incident.
When there was a lull in the action, they would make minor repairs on Vietnamese children as a humanitarian effort.
She returned stateside at Travis Air Force Base. She and another officer were walking in San Francisco when some passersby ridiculed them for their service.
They just ignored them and “went for a drink.”
After returning from Vietnam she started a lifelong journey with alcoholism, and it became her future.
Her mother told her she was “going to have to deal with this.”
And that she did. She was treated at the Long Beach Naval Station and has been sober ever since.
She continued her career in the Navy helping to treat service men and women with chemical dependency.
While working at the Long Beach Veteran’s Medical Center, she was recruited for an intervention with Betty Ford.
A very close friendship formed between her and the Ford family.
Her last assignment was at El Toro Marine Base in 1979. It was there that she retired as a Marine, inspecting the troops with Betty Ford and the Marine’s bulldog mascot in attendance. Only two nurses have ever retired as a Marine.
Pat received a National Defense Service medal, a U.S. -Vietnam Service medal, a Vietnam Campaign medal, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps commendation medals and a Republic of Vietnam Gentry Cross during her tenure in service.
After her military career, she taught chemical dependency at local colleges including Long Beach State, USC and Golden West.
A few years ago Pat was at the local Navy Golf Course when a man stared at her and asked,”Were you on the Repose?”
He had been a patient, said he did not remember many from his time there, but he never forgot her face.
Medical insurance agents are guests
Sunshine Club has invited Alton Smith and Victor Padilla, representatives from two of the Medicare Advantage Plans that work with the Health Care Center, to be the guest speakers Friday, May 23, in Clubhouse 3, Room 2, at 10 a.m.
They will present the easy ways for shareholders to understand and get information about Medicare and the Medicare Advantage Plans provided through the federal government.
The presentation will last 15-30 minutes and will be followed by a question-and-answer session.
Alton Smith has been in the Medicare industry since 1994 and licensed to sell insurance since 1998. Alton worked for other Medicare Advantage programs prior to SCAN, and has worked with the Leisure World community since 2006.
Victor Padilla is Health Net territory manager. He has been working in the Medicare field for 12 years and is a chairman award winner.
Scan and Health Net are Medicare Advantage plans, health plans offered by a private companies that contract with Medicare to provide Part A and Part B benefits.
Medicare Advantage Plans include health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPO), private fee-for-service plans, special needs plans and Medicare medical savings account plans.
Shareholders are encouraged to attend the meeting for information and have all of their questions answered.
The Sunshine Club of Seal Beach Leisure World, Anna Derby, president, hosts classes to help with everyday living in Leisure World. It is an English-speaking class. All shareholders are welcome to attend; no membership required. Refreshments will be served.
Contact Anna Derby, 598-6796, for additional information.
— Anna Derby
Chapter RT’s card party is May 28
PEO, Chapter RT’s card party is scheduled for May 28 in Clubhouse 2 at 11:45 a.m.
There are many games to play, so get a foursome together and call Jan Krehbiel, 431-8240, to make a reservation.
All Leisure Worlders, ladies, gents, couples, mix and match, are welcome. PEO membership is not required. A catered lunch, $9, of deviled chicken, fruit salad, roll, éclair, coffee, tea and ice tea will be served. This is an opportunity to meet new people and to have fellowship with others. Make reservations by Friday, May 23, and be seated by 11:45 a.m. To cancel a standing reservation call Jan by Friday, May 23. Standing reservations not canceled, $36, must be paid by the person holding the reservation.
Son selected as admiral for JAG
Capt. Darse Crandall, Jr. has been selected to be an admiral in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.
He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Darse Crandall, Sr., Mutual 15.
Admiral (select) Crandall, currently works at the White House as a JAG attorney for the National Security Council.
He will assume his new position this summer at the U.S. Navy Yard, Washington, D. C., as assistant judge advocate general, in charge of operations and management of the Navy JAG Corps.
Council meets May 27, CH 3
The Leisure World Multicultural Council (MCC) will meet Tuesday, May 27, in Clubhouse 3, Room 9. Social hour starts at 9 a.m. and the meeting begins at 9:30.
The meetings are open to all LW shareholders and organizations to attend and learn about MCC and its mission.
The MCC is putting together a program for the GRF Saturday Amphitheater show. The 90-minute show will be presented Saturday, Aug. 16, at 8 p.m.
Those interested in showcasing their ethnic talents should contact MCC President Ellen Brannigan, 594-9606, or the co-chair of the Saturday show, Anna Derby, 598-6796, for an application form. The MCC will review the applications to choose a varied ethnic program.
‘Spring Cleaning Swap Meet’ set
Mutual 7 will hold its annual “Spring Cleaning Swap Meet” today, May 22, from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., according to President Roger Bennett.
It will be held on the grassy area, part of Central Park, off Northwood Road, between buildings 164 and 165, and between St. Andrews Drive and Southport Lane.
All Leisure World residents are invited to browse for treasurers and bargains. The general public is also invited to attend, but must call Chairperson Sandra deDubovay at 598-6561 and give names to be left at the front gate for admittance.
Mac, PC, eBay classes will be conducted May 27
Computer classes offered by the Friendship Club are open to Leisure World residents and their guests.
The next classes are scheduled Tuesday, May 27, in Clubhouse 3, Room 7.
A repeating Introduction to the Personal Computer (most versions) with Jeff Sacks begins at noon, followed by open computer questions and discussion about PCs and/or Mac with Jeff Sacks. at 1 p.m. Information on how to find a Windows 7 PC when they are not easily available in local stores can be provided.
Maxine Smith conducts a separate question and answer forum, “Let’s Talk eBay” at 2 p.m. Participants do not need to attend the computer class to attend the eBay class. Max suggests bringing questions, and if possible, an item to sell, or tell her something to buy. These forums have been more helpful than focusing on beginners’ eBay. Many people come to her class for advice, etc., and are not beginners.
For information on these classes, call Jeff Sacks, (714) 642-0122.
Photo— MUTUAL 11 President Phil Mandeville and Activity Director Jackie Hildebrant (third from right) have invited singers and dancers to entertain at the Mutual 11 election/luncheon today in Clubhouse 4. They urge their neighbors to come and vote starting at 10 a.m. and then stick around to say aloha (hello and goodbye) to the new and old boards. Join in the fun and support the mutual. Subway sandwiches, potato salad, chips, water and soft drinks will be served at 11:30. Shareholders are invited to bring additional dishes to share, salads, fruit, casseroles, desserts, etc. There will also be a 50/50 drawing.
Photo— FIVE GENERATIONS of Thelma Hann’s family gathered for Mother’s Day at her daughter’s home in Long Beach. Thelma, Mutual 8, was joined by her son James Hann, Mutual 4, son Harlan, Lakewood; grandchildren, Steve, Hollie, Heather, and Heidi; and great-grandchildren, Ryan and Rachel Westover, Sierra and Skylie Storms, Ian and Emmy Escoto, James and Jaxson Avila; and great-great-grandson Thomas. Her sister-in-law, Veta, came from Texas. Pictured are Thelma (seated) holding, great-great-grandson Thomas and great-grandson Jaxson, great-grandaughter Rachel (l-r), grandson Steve, daughter Chris, and granddaughter Heidi.