CLASS OF 1961 | 2019 | ISSUE 2

Russ Robertson described his Vietnam experience as follows: “I spent eight months in DaNang as the head and neck surgeon. After repairing a perforation of the eardrum of a 12-year-old girl, I learned that her father was the head general of South Viet Nam. The following Sunday, I played a tennis match in downtown DaNang with the general. The court was surrounded by four tanks at each corner with four machine guns interspersed between them! Multiple other times were filled with one to two days continuously in the operating room. Most cases involved three teams of surgeons simultaneously working on the same patient—orthopods completing amputations, general surgeons repairing abdominal wounds, and me repairing through-and-through neck wounds as well as multiple facial fractures . . . no sleep and little food.”

Before moving on to other subjects, I would like to insert a few comments regarding my own involvement in the Vietnam conflict. The U.S. Navy offered a program to dental students which fundamentally insured the student a Navy internship immediately after graduation from dental school. I entered the Navy my sophomore year as an ensign, performing basic training at Annapolis the following summer, and then began my internship two years later at St. Albans Naval Hospital in NYC. Normally, the internship would be completed in one year, but I was offered an additional year as a resident in anesthesiology. Upon completion of that unique training pilot program, it was customary to meet with the admiral and determine future assignments. My meeting went something like this:

Admiral: “Well, Dr. Magendanz, have you given any thought to where you would like to be assigned next?”

My reply: “Yes, sir . . . maybe Naples, Italy?” (Silence!) “Or a hospital ship?” (Still silence!) “Perhaps it’s Vietnam? . . .”

“Very good, Dr. Magendanz. That’s an excellent choice!”

So, after Marine Corps training at Pendelton, Calif., I shipped out to Southeast Asia. Oddly enough, I was immediately positioned at a dental facility in DaNang, straddled with the responsibility of training dental corps staff members. After normal work hours, however, I would sneak off to the station hospital OR and put my anesthesia training to use. (My initial dental CO would not tolerate his dental officer “passing gas.”) When the new CO arrived (an oral surgeon), I was quickly transferred to the hospital anesthesia staff, with an additional part-time assignment to the USS Sanctuary hospital ship anesthesia staff. The clinical exposure, the experience and the respect that I gained that year could never have been achieved in the States.

I was later discharged from the regular navy to reserve status as a LCDR, allowing me to return to the States to get my medical degree. Unfortunately, the academic world was hesitant to set a precedent allowing a dental alumnus advanced standing admission to the medical school. Also, hospitals shied away from employing a dentist as an anesthesiologist because guidelines were inadequate and the risk of litigation was high. As dreadful as the Vietnam conflict was, it did, in my case, provide a silver lining on that dark cloud of history, providing me with the knowledge and training to treat apprehensive children and adults for 20 years in my private practice, providing dental care which they would not otherwise have tolerated.

Sadly, my concluding comments address the deaths of Steve Wainwright and Wayne Glazier. Six months before Steve’s death, I received a letter from Steve describing his cancer treatment. Paul Dickson forwarded the following note: “Steve died March 2. Funeral March 13. His obit is in today’s Globe. It’s one of the longest obits, three columns, I’ve seen in the paid obit section, which I cannot find online. Quite a life as an attorney in Brockton and North Easton.”

Responses to Steve’s death include Dickson’s: “Every once in a while it hits me what an odd, talented and unpredictable—to say nothing of motley—crew Jack Hoy ’55, MALS’61 created when he created the Wesleyan Class of 1961.” From Rich Corson: “His obituary brings it all back, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and all! He did have a colorful life.” And Brad Beechen: “Truly one of a kind. Many fond memories.”

Wayne Glazier’s wife Jan provided insight to Wayne’s career, travels, and accomplishments. She said, “Wayne passed away July 14, 2018, after a prolonged and very brave battle with cancer. He was always proud of his Wesleyan connections and kept in contact with Jim Stewart, his fraternity brother throughout the years, sharing holidays in the States, Australia, and around the world, including a house-building project in Cambodia.” Wayne was described as “a quiet, gentle man with high intelligence and integrity.” Family was important to Wayne and Jan. With an MBA from Harvard, an Australian CPA, and a master’s in taxation, he was appointed editor of the Australian Tax Guide, reaching retirement in 2008.

Jon K. Magendanz, DDS |
902 39th Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205