On April 1 1951 I was doing a little extra duty doing a hot tar roofing job up on a 45 foot high roof of a Mess Hall,pitch roof. I'd been up there mostly all day,i'd pull a 5 gallon bucket of boiling tar up with a rope,it was getting close to 4:45 pm when i was walking up toward the top of this roof that i some how steped on the rope,pulling the bucket of boiling tat out of my right hand,when the bucket hit the roof and the hot tar went toward the top of roof i tryed to jump up over it,but some of that tar was under the tip of my shoe,as i started to leap i sliped and turned in mid air to go to the left of the tar,no luck ,i came down in the tar,at maybe 10 feet down the roof,when i got the first shock of the tar i went airborne and landed on ground screaming.I was transported to the 34th Army General Hosiptal on the west side of Okinawa.halfway between Naha and Kadena.In the ER all my clothes were cut-off. Army Doctor ask me how do I get tar off,i tell him Jet fuel,at that time jp-1,he sent an aid to get some,when he returns it takes about an hour an ahalf to get it off my right hand and arm,face,left arm and the bottom of my legs, Well when all this is done i feel ok,the jet fuel was cool runing over my skin,Right hand look ok at that moment,wheeled me off to the surgery ward,Felt good,had given me a shot,went to sleep and was woken very early. I was treated by a Navy Doctor,he check me out and told me what was happening,As each day went by i started developing blusters,soon i had to keep my right hand up at shoulder because of the pressure in hand an arm,with-in a week i had to keep my hand on top of my head,only when standing,laying down wasn't to bad..
On the 14th day was taken into surgery to remove all blisters. A few days latter My Navy Doc and the head Army surgical Doc had a talk with me that morn and the Army Doc told us that my right hand had to be amputate,well i kind of belived what i was told,but the the Navy Doctor ask the Army Doctor for permission to try and save my hand,telling him that he had a lot of schooling in treating burns,was granted.
My hand had shrunk at the wrist and turned toward the inside of elbow,I had two holes to the bone on right arm and three on left arm,I was barbecued,my face was healing good,a few days go by ,then one morning my Doc ask me to try moving my fingers,i could,next day tells me to grab my right hand at wrist with my left,put my right elbow into pit of my stomach and move hand toward him,well it moved some,buy a lot of pain,he tells me to take a break, we had a talk,then he has me try again,but as i went for my wrist with left hand he the Doc shoved his right hand on top of my right elbow and with his left hand he grabs my right wrist and pulls as hard as he can and bends my wrist toward him.it moved alright and split wide open and the blood hit the celling and me right along with it ,screaming,The Navy Doctor Saved my Hand,was in the hosiptal till the 15th of July 1951,Had some trouble with the hand over the years that went by,but mostly in the winter months here in the nor-east,some times lose feeling in hand,sometimes in the past while holding a glass it would slip out of my hand.
Les Hanson A LongAgo Airman