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A Weekend With Brad

  Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP, MACE

 Every year Brad and I spend a
weekend in some city just walking around bonding with each other.
We try to
solve the world’s problems. We talk about everything from life in the present
to life in the future.

 It is truly a great
experience for me. I learn more from him than he learns from me. Our roles are
reversed at this stage of life. He is now my mentor.

 Last week he expressed
interest in going to visit his place of birth, Blytheville Arkansas, for our
2014 weekend.

 I have many wonderful stories
about Blytheville Air Force Base and its 851st Medical Division. My
first is:

Into The Air Force 1965

 On February 13, 1965, President Lyndon Baines Johnson
authorized Rolling Thunder, the sustained bombing of North Vietnam. With
Rolling Thunder, the Vietnam War officially escalated.

Even though I received a Berry Plan exemption to complete my
Internal Medicine training, I was drafted to active duty when the war escalated.

My orders said to report to Blytheville Air Force Base
Hospital, 851st Medical Group on July 1,1965.

I found out who to protest to. The Major General I spoke to
in Washington said, “Sorry son, America is at war.”

Cecelia was pregnant with our first son, Brad. He kicked for the first time in Smokey Mountain National Park. Cecelia screamed and I almost went off the road.

Physicians practicing
at the hospital found out through the grapevine that I was going to be
stationed in Blytheville, Arkansas. Many just looked as if they pitied me for
my bad luck.

Stanley Gittleson M.D. a practicing pediatrician at the
hospital, came up to me in the hall one day and said he heard I was going to be
stationed at Blytheville Air Force Base in Arkansas. I said, “Yes.”

He said,

roommate at Cornell University came from Blytheville, Arkansas. His parents
lived there because his father was a civil engineer who had a government
contract to build the Bayous along the Mississippi River from St Louis to 200
miles south of Memphis.

 Jerry Cohen was brought up in Blytheville. His
father sent him east to his alma mata, Cornell for college and graduate school.
Jerry wanted to become a civil engineer and join his father’s construction company.

Cornell Jerry met a girl from New London Connecticut. After graduate school Jerry
and Huddy married.  Jerry convinced Huddy
to move to Blytheville, Arkansas.”

Stanley Gittleson said “They
are two great people. They will welcome you and Cecelia to Blytheville.

Just call him up and say, “ Gittleson sent you.”

Cecelia and I were nervous about going to Blytheville,
Arkansas. We were two kids who grew up on the streets of New York. We had never
traveled anywhere except to the Catskill Mountains in New York State during our
familys’ summer vacations.

We were immediately relieved to know all we had to do was
call and say “Gittleson sent us.”

It was exactly what I did the first afternoon we got there.
Jerry said in his charming southern accent, “Why don’t you guys come over to the house tonight for dinner.”

Jerry, Huddy and their two girls took us in as family
immediately. They were at our side during Cecelia’s pregnancy. Huddy was right
there at the Air Force Base Hospital as we waited for Brad’s birth on December
1, 1965.

As it turned out, Blytheville Arkansas was a great
experience  that neither of us will

I look forward to visiting Blytheville with Brad in 2014. We
will stay in Memphis for the weekend.

  The opinions expressed in the blog “Repairing The Healthcare System” are, mine and mine alone.

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