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Submarine Surgeon from WWII Honored

Its been nearly 63 years in the making, now finally one man is recognized for a life saving surgery.

It may not sound like a special feat; an emergency appendectomy surgery, but this one in 1942 was under 120 feet of water inside a submarine during World War II, and the man performing the operation was just the pharmacist's mate at the time, Wheeler "Johnny" Lipes. Sunday Lipes was honored at Camp Lejuene's hospital where he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal. However, as with members of the greatest generation, Lipes doesn't feel what he did was special.

That job he did inside the submarine saved the life of Sailor Darrell Dean Rector. Submarines weren't equipped with surgical tools so the crew, bent spoons and knives to use as the operating instruments. Sailor Rector was back on his feet in a couple of days thanks to the life saving hands of Wheeler "Johnny" Lipes.


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