Assigned to Ward 35
By: John De Soto

After 19 days on a troop ship (USS General Sherman) arrived Manila June 1954.  Bus to Clark was delayed one hour because of pitched battle at checkpoint.  What did I get into? Assigned to Ward 35 at base hospital (3208th Medical Group).  Barracks had been left by the Japs, and I hit my head on the way to the john- they are a lot shorter than we are.  The Airman's club was a large nipa hut, and was shortly replaced by a more modern facility. After 3 days on the base I rented an apartment in Angeles- no. 4 Mabini street.  Right next to the town water tower, so we always had tubig, even in the late afternoon when everyone came home from work. The rent was 30 pesos a month- $15 in script.  Note: the official exchange rate was just over 3 to 1, so we Gi's who got 2 to 1 were being cheated.  I discovered that you could send a money order home and have it converted to pesos as 3+to 1, all legit. Did not sleep on the base again until return to the ZI, except for a few days on typhone alert.  Ward 35- later Nursing Unit 35- was a locked psychiatric ward.  I worked the graveyard shift most of my tour, except the last few months when I was wardmaster. We psycho medics hung out at the Stateside club, across the street from my rental.  Not exactly high-class, but a friendly bar that did not exploit us GI's.