Loop discovers all he needs in a 'big book'
For Canby's Jim Loop, a stint in the U.S. Army just as World War II was coming to a close took him down an interesting path of self-discovery – and medicine.
With WWII coming rapidly to a close, Loop was drafted into the U.S. Army in July 1945. Once he'd completed basic training, he went through an additional two U.S. Army training schools – August to December 1945 at the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Fort Hood in Texas, specially qualifying as a rifleman, and technician school to become a laboratory tech.
A short stint at that training school would come in handy later at a hospital in southern Korean. The course took six weeks, where he received instruction and practical training in laboratory procedure, processing medical tests, care and operation and sterilization of instruments.
In December 1945, Loop and other recent draftees took the train to Seattle, where he hopped a troop ship by climbing a rope ladder. On the seven-day passage to Korea, two soldiers were lost, likely over the rail, because said Loop "many of those soldiers were bent over the rails providing some food for the sea."
The ship stopped in Honolulu, but no one got off, much to Loop's frustration. When they arrived in Korea and descended from the ship, also by a rope ladder, the soldiers boarded a train and were taken to a base in the far south of the country.
"We got on that train and there wasn't any glass in the windows. There were frames, but nothing to keep the cold out. And, it was real cold," Loop said.
When they arrived at their base, a lieutenant divided them into their assignments. As Loop remembered, the lieutenant didn't have an assignment for him, but he soon found himself stationed to the hospital.
"The Lieutenant asked if I'd ever drawn blood. I said no and he told me everything I needed to know would be in this thick book. So I took the book with me to my assignment and whenever I didn't know what to do, I'd check it out in the book," explained Loop.
Most of his patients were American soldiers from the Army and most had been hurt playing football or doing other activities at the base. Many, like Loop, had been drafted recently. There were about 12 to 18 nurses, and a few Koreans who worked at the base or were from villages nearby. One of those nurses, as it turned out, was from Baker, Oregon, he said.
Loop added that he typically worked alone in the laboratory. He said he remembered working days and sometimes nights, typically 18-hour shifts."I worked for two years straight with no time off," Loop said. "I even worked in the lab on the ship home."
Loop is now 93 years old. Originally from Hubbard, he's lived most of his life since he left the U.S. Army in Canby. He was married twice, for 33 years to Isabelle, and after she died, he married Barbara. He has a son named Tom who has been a career U.S. Navy man and has worked his way up to his current rank of Lt. Commander.
Prior to joining the U.S. Army, Loop drove trucks and went to community college and Willamette University. He was employed for two years by K.C. Truck Line in Canby before being drafted. Loop drove flatbed trucks and tractors with semi-trailers hauling milk and general freight. He made local and overland hauls averaging 120 miles a day doing day and night driving, loading and unloading, and also made roadside repairs on the truck and the equipment he operated, according to papers from the Army.
Loop returned to the states in 1947 on another troop ship that made port in San Francisco, where he and his fellow shipmates sought out something cold and wet to drink.
"We drank lots of milk and it was a good experience," he said. The chance to drink fresh milk after two years of powdered milk in Korea and aboard ship was too much to pass up.
Once back in Oregon, Loop picked up his former job and drove and taught truck driving until he retired.
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