High Desert Daily
March 18, 2012
By Nolan Patrick Smith
(Victorville) In the past articles in the Desert Valley Hospital series, we covered the new extension as well as the technology utilized by the hospital. For the last part in the series, we wanted to focus on the lives affected by Desert Valley Hospital. It is our pleasure to bring you to story of Mr. Jack Carey, who High Desert Daily was very fortunate to sit down and speak with about his life and his experience with Desert Valley Hospital.
92-year-old Hesperia resident Jack Carey has lived a life full of excitement and intrigue, but if you ask him to tell you a little about himself, he’ll reply, “Not much, I’m a loser,” with a smile on his face. Mr. Carey has seen the world, and is one of the last living Pearl Harbor survivors, as he served in the Army at the time Pearl Harbor was attacked. Carey recounts the day with impeccable detail, as the memory will always be etched in his mind. “In 1941, I joined the army before the Japanese bombed, before the war started. In September or October, something like that, I enlisted and a couple of months later is when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. At that time, I was stationed at Schofield Barracks, under my recruit training in the Army. There was nothing much we could do because it was a sneak attack. I was eating breakfast at the time, with two or three other guys having breakfast. Then we heard the planes diving in, and we thought it was our own aircrafts training on maneuvers. A few seconds later, we heard all the explosions going on, and that was when the bombs were being dropped. We were stationed right across from where the bombs were dropped, right across from Pearl Harbor. So we all ran out of the mess hall, pots and pans flying everywhere. I don’t know if you saw that movie From Here to Eternity? It was exactly like that.”
Carey was only 21-years-old when he enlisted into the Army, not knowing that war was just around the corner. “We took cover because we saw the planes coming back; a few of the guys got killed alongside of me, but I survived. After that, we strung barbed wire around Waikiki Beach, we were expecting a Japanese invasion, and we thought they were going to invade the island, which they never did. That lasted a couple of weeks, then we got ready to go overseas, to the South Pacific islands; Guam, New Georgia, Bougainville, New Britain, the Philippines, so we battled all over those islands. We took the town of Manila. I was in the 25th Division; the Lightning Division is what they called us in those days. The war was just starting when the bombs were dropped. I’m just lucky I never got wounded. God was with me; someone was looking over my shoulder.”
Only a month after being discharged, Carey was hit with another surprise in the form of Malaria. “Never got wounded but I got Malaria pretty bad. I didn’t get it until a month after I got discharged. I got the fever real bad and was shaking; I didn’t know what I had. My mom called the family doctor and he said “oh, that guy has Malaria!” They came out in an old World War 1 ambulance, they carried me out in a stretcher, my legs we all hanging way over the stretcher,” Carey said with a chuckle. “I was in the hospital for a week and a half to two weeks and had two or three attacks while I was in the hospital, and that was way back in 1945.”
Upon serving in the Army, Carey went on to work for the Chevron Oil Company, which was known as Standard Oil at the time. He was there for 35 years, retired when he was 60, yet was still working after retiring in 1992. An extremely active man, Carey had his own construction business, which his son now runs, worked for the county fire department, but left because there was too much sitting around, and has a large family. “I had a nice family, three boys and one girl and lots of grandkids. Big family. Nice family too, they make sure I am doing all right.”
Up until recently, Mr. Carey never had a problem with his heart, but he noticed something different while doing his normal routines. He never smokes, never drinks, and works out on a regular basis, so getting winded one day took him by surprise. “I kind of got out of breath. I have two dogs; well I got three because the neighbor’s dog comes over. So I was walking the dogs, I came back and I got kind of tired from coming up and down slopes, and that’s not like me. So I went to the doctor, Dr. Jacob, he said everything looked good to him, but he wanted to be sure so he sent me to Dr. Pean, who took all these tests. He called me a couple days later and said, “You know, Mr. Carey, you are going to need a pacemaker.” I said what? I heard of guys having it, but I never imagined I would need one.”
Dr. Jules Pean, MD, Cardiologist at Desert Valley Medical Group, handled the procedure on January 3rd, 2012. When Carey was asked about the procedure, he replied, “It was a peace of cake to put that in, nothing to it. I was wide-awake the whole time. I spent the night at the hospital, because they wanted to make sure I was ok to go home. It’s working perfectly, I can’t even tell it’s there.” Carey’s Wife, Darlene, took care of him while he recovered from the procedure. “She’s very good to me, when I was recovering she treated me like a king. She’s a very good person; she remembers things I forget, good or bad.”
So how has the pacemaker affected his life? Mr. Carey has always been an extremely active person; he swam his whole life, even competed in competitions, boxed, as well as rode bikes with his wife. Has the pacemaker slowed him down at all at the age of 92? When asked what he does as a hobby these days, perhaps golfing, he replied, “That’s a sissy game, why don’t those guys get some real exercise? I punch the bag everyday. The yard keeps me going too, and working with my boy.” Mr. Carey continues to work with his son in carpentry from time to time, as well as maintains his yard and lap pool, which he swims in regularly.
When speaking with Mr. Carey, I noticed his perfect posture, as well as his ability to walk on his own with no cane. He only needs glasses to read the fine print, otherwise he can see fine. A man of great stature, Mr. Carey has one of the best senses of humors I have had the pleasure in meeting, as he told me about his recent check up for his hearing aide, “I feel pretty good, I went in there the other day and the doctor asked me “How do you feel, Mr. Carey?” I said “how are you supposed to feel when your 92?” I guess I feel alright, I was able to come in without a cane, the doctor laughed at that.” The smile was constant on Carey during the whole interview, as he laughed and joked about many aspects in his life. Carey maintains himself by continuing not to drink or smoke, and to always have a good outlook on life.
We would like to thank Mr. Carey for taking the time to share his adventurous life with us and with all the readers of High Desert Daily. We would also like to thank Desert Valley Medical Group for arranging this meeting. For more information on Desert Valley Hospital, make sure to visit them online at www.dvmc.com.