Pearl Harbor Day was Dec. 7. I am proud to be a veteran with 20 years of service to my country. Looking back on my military journey and how I/we came to be living in Fergus Falls I know that God had a plan for my life and I was following his plan. Briefly, here is my military journey after graduating from Hibbing High School in Hibbing in May 1957 to the present time.
Oct. 1, 1957 – Sept. 5, 1960 — U.S. Navy. Enlisted as a hospital corpsman. Stationed at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Bainbridge, Maryland. Many troops injured in the line of duty were admitted to the hospital ward. I was in charge of patients with back issues which put their bodies out of balance and alignment. The medical corps doctors are not trained to treat chiropractic conditions. Because there were no military chiropractic doctors to take care of their problems many of these troops were medically discharged.
Dec. 7, (Pearl Harbor Day) 1957, I graduated from recruit training camp in Great Lakes, Illinois.
My Navy goals: 1. Become a chief hospital corpsman (HMC). 2. Become a commissioned chiropractic doctor to treat our troops alongside the medical doctors. Unfortunately, enlisted personnel wanting to become chiropractors did not have the military benefits extended to them that enlisted personnel wanting to become medical doctors had then and still have today.
Sept. 5, 1960 – Nov 7, 1969 — Naval Reserve drilled four hours on a weeknight for three years while taking pre-chiropractic studies, two years full time at Hamline University, St. Paul and one year part time at the University of Minnesota. The same studies other medical professionals take.
September 1963 – May 1967 — National College of Chiropractic (now NUHS) in Lombard, Illinois, I drilled one weeknight per week for one semester. Traveling by train from Lombard to Navy Pier took much longer than anticipated. Study time suffered. I transferred to the Inactive Ready Reserve. No drilling time from January 1964 – November 7, 1969.
May 1967 – Aug 1968 — studying for the Basic Science Board of Minnesota exams. All medical professionals including chiropractors took the same exams in the same room at the U of M. Then studying for the chiropractic licensing board exam.
Sept. 5, 1968 – started my chiropractic practice in Fergus Falls. I am still practicing.
April 1985 – opportunity knocked. Dennis Frye stopped by the office. He said he had just reenlisted at the Navy Reserve Center in Fargo, North Dakota. He said his unit drilled one weekend every month. A medical unit drilled there too. Visions of being a commissioned doctor of chiropractic danced through my head. Now I could help our troops and their dependents! Thank you Dennis! But nope, that was not to be. Why? There were no regulations in place to commission doctors of chiropractic in a chiropractic corps to work with medical corps doctors to treat our troops and their dependents.
July 1985 – September 1997 — Navy Reserve – Navy Reserve Center, Fargo, North Dakota. I still chose to reenlist as a hospital corpsman. To fulfil my active-duty goal to become an HMC and complete a full 20 years of service to my country.
One very hot, humid, July day the Navy Reserve Center held our annual physical fitness tests. Those of us who had finished our 1.5 mile run ran back to encourage others to complete their run on time. I jogged alongside Dennis Frye. Dennis gasped and stumbled as he crossed the finish line and collapsed with a heart attack. No ambulance was present. My chiropractic training jumped into action. I provided Dennis with on-the-spot chiropractic treatment. We loaded him on a stretcher in the back of a pickup and hauled it to the Veterans Affairs hospital. Dennis survived and was finally medically discharged.
After the HMC test results came back in September 1997 — I passed, not advanced — for the seventh time I transferred from the fleet hospital.
September 1997 – November 7, 1999 — the Minnesota Army National Guard at the Fergus Falls Armory. I became the senior enlisted medic for Company A in Fergus Falls and Company B in Wadena. I drilled one week per month to complete my 20 years.
In July 1999 Company A at the Fergus Falls Armory had almost completed loading our gear for our two-week annual training at Camp Ripley. I was right beside 1st Sgt. Kringler when he burst into a profuse sweat and fell to the floor with a heart attack. I provided Sgt. Kringler with on-the-spot chiropractic treatment. We loaded him into the front passenger seat of my five-on-the-floor stick-shift Mazda hatchback and hauled it to the Lake Region Healthcare ER. Sgt. Kringler survived his ordeal, was returned to full duty, eventually transferred to HQ in Moorhead and got his full retirement. God’s plan for my life, my military journey and us coming to Fergus Falls in 1968 had come to fruition.
Wallace R. Cole, D.C.