Darrell Dean Rector 1923-1944

Thank you Darla Loyd for sharing Dean's story.

DARRELL DEAN RECTOR (SAMUEL4, ALLEN3, MACK2, JOHN1) was born September 10, 1923 in KS - Oak Grove, Chautauqua, and died November 30, 1944 on the USS TANG (SS 306).

Twins, Dean and Dena Rector, both weighed in at 10 pounds. Now, wouldn't we love to hear from mom Lola Mary Woolsey Rector about this birth!

Joining the Navy
Home town boy Darrell Dean Rector

The sub lay 120 feet below the surface of the South China Sea. Seaman 1st Class Darrell Dean Rector, 19, had severe stomach pains and other symptoms of appendicitis. The stabling pains had become unendurable the day before, which was Rector's first birthday at sea.

Without a doctor on board, he had to trust Lipes, a pharmacist's mate, with his life. Wheeler "Johnny" Lipes, had neither the formal training, the equipment, nor the urge to become a surgeon.

But when one of his ship mates came down with acute appendicitis, with enemy warships circling above - he had no choice. He had to do what needed to be done or his shipmate would die.

It was the first major surgery ever preformed aboard a submarine. And it was performed by a man who stepped up to the job.

Four months after the successful surgery, Chicago Daily News reporter George Weller told the story. His article, which won a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished reporting in 1942.

2008 April 7 from Darla Loyd
Darrell Dean Rector - He was in the Navy in WWII, and in 1943 he was operated on for appendicitis in a Submarine in enemy waters. A pharmacist's mate, Wheeler Lipes, preformed the operation, this was his first surgery. This story, 'Surgery in a Submarine' was published in the August 1943 Reader's Digest magazine. Dean was 19. years old.

The story of Dean's operation was made into a movie. In a line from one of the stories of the operation:

Mr. Lipes' operation was memorialized in the films "Destination Tokyo" (1943) and "Run Silent, Run Deep" (1958) and in the 1950's television series about the submarine fleet, "The Silent Service." The Navy produced its own film, " The Pharmacist's Mate." Cary Grant was the actor in "Destination Tokyo." I have a copy.

I got to talk to Wheeler Lipes, on the phone, before he died. He had cancer and died a month later. Would loved to talk to him in person. Found him to late

Darrell Dean Rector was to make the news again but regretfully this news was what no family wants to hear when they have a family member in the military.

Dean was on the USS TANG (SS 306), which sank October 24, 1944.

"A night surface attack was launched on October 24, 1944 against a transport which had previously been stopped in an earlier attack. The first torpedo was fired, and when it was observed to be running true, the second and last was loosed. It curved sharply to the left, broached, porpoised and circled. Emergency speed was called for and the rudder was thrown over. These measures resulted only in the torpedo striking the stern of TANG, rather than amidships."

Letter from the Navy Department February 12, 1945.

Visit USS TANG (SS 306) website for the complete story.


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