Doc Bulger: Battalion Surgeon and Country Doctor.

In late August 1944, Allied forces wrapped up arguably the decisive battle of the Normandy campaign and one of the true routes of World War II at the Falaise Pocket, where they destroyed the German 7th Army.  The timing and engagement reminded me of another colorful character from the 90th ID.

Richard “Doc” Bulger was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA.  He knew from a very early age that he wanted to be a physician.  Doc graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Medical School on June 15, 1941, and married his wife, Theresa, the very next day.  Upon completion of a one-year, rotating internship at Western Pennsylvania Hospital, he joined the Army.  Doc served as the 3rd Battalion Surgeon, 358th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division.

Richard "Doc" Bulger-3rd Battalion Surgeon

During a brief lull in the action at the Falaise Gap, Doc Bulger began nosing through some of the German wreckage. A dead Kraut driver sat in the front seat of a disabled, nondescript two-door sedan. But in the backseat, Doc discovered several briefcases.  Curious, he opened one to find it packed full of baby-blue bills—1,000 Franc, French notes. Had he stumbled onto a German Division’s payroll?

A life of luxury, early retirement, a debt-free, Stateside medical practice—the possibilities seemed endless. But just then, an uninvited visitor from above peered over Doc’s shoulder.  A man of the cloth, Chaplain Joseph Esser, abruptly interrupted Bulger’s wistful glimpse into a privileged future. “You have to turn that in to Regiment!” Esser counseled. So much for Doc’s big dreams! He’d have to work for a living after all.

While at Chambois, Doc also made a house call.  Summoned from his aid station, he grabbed his bag on the fly. A villager was in labor and Doc delivered the baby. He tied the cord with a bandage roll, wrapped the baby in a blanket and then returned to war.  All in a day’s work for a country doctor or battalion surgeon!

4 Responses to “Doc Bulger: Battalion Surgeon and Country Doctor”

  1. Tristan says:

    Wow ! That story is incredible. I don’t know if it figures in BOOTPRINTS, but anyway, I don’t remember reading anything about this. Does Mr. Winebrenner tell you this episode ? I’ll see if I can discover something else with the story of the baby.

  2. mikemccoy says:

    Hi Tristan,

    Actually Doc Bulger himself told me the story, before he passed away. Yes it is in BOOTPRINTS, pages 109-110. Doc Bulger was one of Hobert’s best friends from the war. That would truly be incredible if you could find that baby!

  3. Natalie says:

    I’m Doc’s granddaughter and on the anniversary of D-Day found it fitting to revisit this story. Thank you for sharing as I always find myself yearning for more stories of the things he saw, did and experienced.

    • mikemccoy says:

      Hi Natalie,

      Thank you for your comments. I often find myself thinking of Hobert Winebrenner as well. They certainly left a lasting impression.

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