Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Branch:
Navy 1
Birth:
25 Nov 1919 1
Death:
24 Jul 2002 1
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Personal Details

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Person:
Elmer Kopitzke 1
Gender: Male 1
Social Security Number: ***-**-2686 1
Birth:
25 Nov 1919 1
Death:
24 Jul 2002 1
Cause: Natural 1
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World War II 1

Branch:
Navy 1
Enlistment Date:
26 Jul 1944 1
Organization:
Navy 1
Organization Code:
NAVY 1
Release Date:
21 Feb 1946 1

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Stories

Effects of War on Health

Elmer Edward Carl KOPITZKE (1919-2002), served in the US Navy in the Pacific arena during WWII: When 26 years old, and after 18 hours strapped in as a gunner on the prow of a naval ship continually shooting down Japanese Kamikaze suicide planes near Okinawa, Elmer suffered a major heart attack and was pronounced dead on ship. Promptly a telegram of his death was sent to Elmer’s wife and their two young boys. But just before burial at sea the ship doctor noticed eyelid movement, and determined that Elmer was still miraculously alive, which the family later found out via another telegram. Elmer was in a coma for 3 months but recovered. He continued to suffer greatly from post-traumatic stress and flashbacks of the war for years after he returned home to his wife and sons. Later in midlife he needed heart quadruple bypass surgery (since one quarter of his heart muscle was dead from the trauma), utilizing sections of veins from his legs for the bypass. At age 82 one of his lower legs was amputated as a result of lack of circulation from the vein removal and the onset of diabetic condition. The amputation surgery was successful, but a hospital night nurse got him out of the bed by herself at 2 AM to weigh him without two-person support, and dropped him to the floor, causing his amputation incision to tear open, subsequent to which he never recovered, and he died a week later.

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