Marshall Ralph Doak Chief Pharmacist's Mate United States Navy
USS Salt Lake City
I packed my hammock and sea bag and reported on board the First Division, which is a forward division on board the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City. I checked in with the Boatswain's Mate. He was a pot-bellied individual, and I'll never forget his name. It was Jamison. He was a 2nd Class Boatswain's Mate and I said "Sir, what do you want me to do?" He said, "Store your gear down below and come back and report to me." This I did, and when I got up on top side I saw three or four fellas workin' the starboard side of the ship. I don't know what they were doin', but I think they were shining the bright work while lying on their sides. He said, "Take this can of bright work polish and shine the bright work on the port side." So I whistled right through it man, I worked my fool butt off. I shined all that bright work and I came back and said, "Sir, I've done it. Now what do you want me to do?" He looked at me like I was an idiot. He said "I'll tell ya' what you do. You go back and do it all over again." Now, that was my indoctrination into the real Navy. I thought at that point that I'd made a big mistake. He knew that I'd come on board as an athlete and he didn't like athletes. An athlete had their own special mess. He did everything possible to keep me from playing baseball or doing any sports. At times when we were underway, he'd give me a bucket of paint and send me up. He'd tell me to hang on with one hand and paint with the other. He made it really tough on me. He fought me tooth and nail. Finally I got to the point where I went to the Athletic Officer, who also happened to be the Dental Officer. I told him that I had problems and that the Boatswain's Mate threw every objection possible in my way. It was very, very difficult for me. He said, "Let me take care of this." He had me transferred to the medical department and said, "Now, this'll take care of this. You'll have no duties here, but you'll be berthed here. You can play all the sports or whatever. You shouldn't have any problems."
USS Salt Lake City and the Medical Department
In the process of being in the medical department, it became very interesting. I started to work with microscopes, and eventually I was doing duties and duty watches. We eventually reached the West Coast. We went to Bremerton, Washington where the Marines had a big gunnery range and they sent me over as the medic. That was very interesting. It got to the point where I didn't know what to do. I enjoyed the medical department. I enjoyed the duties and I enjoyed athletics. But I'd hurt my arm and shoulder at one point while catching on the baseball team and I couldn't throw the ball. I had to try to decide what I was going to do. At this time I had three ensigns who were tutoring me for the Navy prep school. Two of them told me they'd never do it if they had to do it over again. So, we were in San Diego when I was called before the Captain. I was greeted with pleasantries and he said, "You've passed the exam and we're gonna send you to the prep school at Norfolk." I hadn't quite made up my mind if that' s what I wanted to do and I told him that I wasn't sure. I had about a year to go on enlistment and I thought maybe medicine was what I wanted to do. He was very upset and within that day he had me off the ship and sent me to San Diego to the Hospital Corps School. He was very displeased to think that someone would turn down the prep school and naval academy. I was influenced by the ensign tutors that I had, and also my desire to go into medicine.