Jewish GI's: David M. Block

David M. Block enlisted in the Army in March 1953. (By enlisting - instead of waiting to be drafted - he made it more likely that he could control the unit to which he was sent.) Because of his background in medicine, he joined the Medical Corps, where he served as a combat medic in the 3rd Infantry Division (attached to the Division Artillery). He spent most of his service at Fort Benning (Georgia), where he was stationed for about two years. In addition, he served at Camp Pickett (Virginia) and Fort Rucker (Alabama).

Block says that one of the most interesting aspects of his service was treating soldiers who had been in car accidents while on maneuvers in "shlumpy" areas in the South. He also treated people who had accidentally shot themselves in the foot or the hand. One patient he particularly remembers is a soldier who one night climbed into his sleeping bag only to find a tarantula. After the tarantula bit him, "He got pretty sick." Despite the large number and wide variety of soldiers that he treated, no soldier ever died while in Block's care.

During his time in the Army, Block did encounter some anti-Semitism, mainly from the civilians in the South, but also from some of his fellow enlisted men. Even so, he has no regrets about having joined the Army: he served in the Medical Corps, which is exactly where he had wanted to serve; he made a few good friends in the military; and he took many good memories with him when he returned to civilian life.

Block left the military in 1956, having attained the rank of staff sergeant. He went back to school at UCLA, where he earned his bachelor's degree in biology. However, it was his physics and chemistry courses that became the most useful to him after college: instead of going to work in biology, he got a job as an engineer at Hughes Aircraft because "it was available." Block remained at Hughes for the next 28 years.

Block has been married twice. He was married to his first wife from 1957 until 1986, and he and his second wife have been married since 1988. Block has three children.

David Block is now retired and currently resides in Southern California.

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