Veterans - Clary 2

Sweetwater native Eugene Clary joined the military after graduating high school in 1947 and served 21 years as a corpsman and X-ray technician. Once retired from the service, he worked for the Hamilton Hospital as well as the state prison in Gatesville. Pictured is a wedding photo of him and his late wife, Judy, whom he met in Japan. She died just before their 63rd anniversary.

Photo by Mary Drennon

Last week: Hamilton’s Eugene Clary decided to enlist for an additional six years in the Army, and eventually wound up in Japan during the Korean War, working in the 279th General Hospital in Osaka.

There was a saying during World War II: If you can’t do anything else, they make a medic out of you, Clary joked.

Japan was a lively place, with plenty of work to do. Clary kept busy in the X-ray department, and, because he had corpsman training, he also bandaged wounds and performed other necessary medical tasks.

Clary, now 87, enjoyed the job. “It was the most satisfying career,” he said, “because I had the most appreciative patients.”

There were occasions when they had no one to tend to as a result of tropical storms that prevented travel from Korea. But there were usually patients. Clary usually tended between 50 and 100 patients at a time and sometimes as many as 150.

It was occassionally harrowing. One patient died from shrapnel lodged in his aorta. Another guy coming back from patrol smarted off instead of giving the correct password and was shot dead.

In 1953, something happened in Clary’s life that changed him forever: he met a special woman.

Married in Japan

Her name was Mineko Kosaka, a local girl who worked in service to the military. Clary met her when the USO invited the Japanese staffers to the service club for a dance. “Most were ready and willing for female companionship,” he said.

They married in Japan in March 1953 and moved into their first apartment. A son was born in 1954 in the Osaka Army Hospital. Mineko later changed her name to Judy when she was living in the United States.

His stay in Japan over, Clary and his family sailed for the States on the USNS Gen. Simon B. Buckner. There were five or six women on board who stayed in the stateroom. The men could visit their families during the day, but not at night.

Clary next served three years at The Presidio of San Francisco before moving to San Antonio to take advanced X-ray training at Fort Sam Houston. After graduation, he stayed on for a time as an instructor.

He was attending night school, majoring in personnel management when he received a telegram asking him to change to laboratory technology, which included phlebotomy. Beginning in 1961 he was a student at Trinity University, followed by medical laboratory school in Fort Sam. He eventually became certified as a lab tech.

In 1964, the entire family went to Bangkok, where Clary was assigned to the SEATO Medical Research Laboratory. A daughter would be born in the States.

“It was a most interesting tour,” Clary said. There were diverse types of pathologies, including the life cycles of parasites. They also studied the effects of malaria on kidney function and much, much more.

Back home in the U.S.

He spent three years in Thailand before returning to an assignment at Fort Sam Houston as a lab instructor of advanced hematology. One year later, Clary resigned from the service as a sergeant (E-7) and found that his work at the Thailand Stat Lab “prepared me perfectly for my job in a little Nevada hospital.”

When his mother became ill in Cranfills Gap, he came home to care for her. He worked at the Hamilton Hospital for nine years, before the company closed it. The citizens rallied and reopened the facility a year later. By this time, Clary was working for the Texas Department of Corrections in Gatesville.

Clary worked there 10 years and was ready to retire in 1998, but they asked him to stay on part time. He also worked at the Hamilton Hospital. “I retired from the Army, the TDC and twice from the Hamilton Hospital.”

Clary retired for good when his sight began to fail.

Judy died five days before their 63rd anniversary in 2016. “She took good care of me and the kids,” Clary said.

Today, he keeps busy with the Lions Club and other activities. He has grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“The service now is a different world since I was in,” Clary said. “There are so many modalities today.”

Still, it’s clear that he enjoyed his time in the military.

“I enjoyed my career and the things that I was trained for,” Clary said. “I felt like I was providing a needed service — and I got paid well.”

“Veterans’ Voices,” featuring stories about Central Texas veterans, publishes every Sunday. To suggest a story about a Central Texas veteran, please email veteransvoices@wacotrib.com. “Veterans’ Voices” is proudly sponsored by Johnson Roofing.

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