Hammond U.S. Army Hospital Modesto, named in honor of Brigadier General William Alexander Hammond (1828-1900), began on March 2,1942, when the acreage needed for the establishment of the hospital was acquired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) from the County of Stanislaus with an additional 40 acres acquired on June 16, 1942 through condemnation proceedings against the Modesto Irrigation District.
The USACE began building the 2,540 bed general hospital at the corner of Blue Gum Avenue and Carpenter Road in Modesto using the Quartermaster Corps, which later became the and Army Corps of Engineers, who built wood framed wards, clinics, barracks, and support buildings. Hammond General Hospital specialized in neurology, general and orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery and psychiatry.
On March 6,1943, the hospital was designated as one of five thoracic surgery centers and the only one on the West Coast. The thoracic center remained at Hammond General Hospital until August 1944 when it was transferred to Baxter General Hospital in Spokane, Washington. Hammond General Hospital also maintained six “detention wards” for the mentally ill and a prison ward. By 1945 Hammond General Hospital operated a convalescent section and a 250 man prisoner of war branch camp located near the town of Vernalis in Western Stanislaus County.
In December 1945, the hospital was closed by the U.S. Army opening the way for the State of California to acquire the property for a state mental hospital. On December 20,1945, Governor Earl Warren sent a telegraph to the Federal Surplus Property Administration expressing an interest in acquiring the hospital site. In April 1946 the Army waived any claim to the hospital, thus clearing the way for the State of California to obtain the site.
In August 1970, the State of California (Gov. Ronald Reagan) quit claimed the hospital to the Yosemite Junior College District and the County of Stanislaus. On March 17, 1947 and October 12th, 1978, the County of Stanislaus quit-claimed two parcels to the Yosemite Junior College District. The Yosemite Junior College District developed their portions of the site into what is today the West Campus of Modesto Junior College. The County of Stanislaus developed their portion into a consolidated juvenile justice center.
(Note: KTRB originated numerous transcribed programs from Hammond US Army Hospital in Modesto in the 1940s , see below)
Flag ceremonies at Hammond Army Hospital in Modesto.
(Photos courtesy of Timothy Sexton, Modesto California)
Hammond Army hospital on Blue Gum Avenue in Modesto, California. Probably taken some time in the 40s.
KTRB Broadcasts from Hammond General Hospital
During WWII KTRB conducted numerous remote broadcasts from Hammond Army General Hospital between 1943 and 1945. The hospital later was known as Modesto State Hospital and was located at the corner of Blue Gum Ave. and Carpenter Rd. Below are excerpts from articles in the Modesto Bee newspaper about such broadcasts. Researched by Bob Santos, Turlock, Ca.
December 29, 1943
Army Hospital Program Will Be Given Tonight
A series of interviews, reviewing the events and accomplishments of the Hammond General Hospital in 1943, and providing listeners with a general idea of the duties handled by enlisted men on the Hammond post, will highlight the hospital’s half hour radio broadcast this evening over station KTRB. This year end program will be presented from 9 to 9:30 o’clock.
Poust Will Speak
Heading the list of interviewees will be Colonel L.R. Poust, commanding officer, who will sketch the hospital’s progress through the year and express his appreciation to organizations and individual citizens in Modesto and the San Joaquin Valley for their generosity and cooperation.
First Sergeant Clarence Samuel of the Hammond Hospital medical section will explain the functions of the military police, quartermaster and medical units at the hospital. Technical Sergeant Albert Fitzgerald will discuss the work performed at the post headquarters, comparing its organization today with that of a year ago, and Staff Sergeant Claus Almgren, an original cadreman, will explain the functions of the patients’ section office.
Will Tell of Surgery
Technician Third Grade Dan Justen will tell of many unique surgical operations performed on sick and wounded patients at the hospital, and Private Delbert Raymond, a Guadalcanal veteran, will be interviewed as a typical example. Private Raymond has undergone a total of 17 operations during his stay at Hammond in 1943. Also to be interviewed is Technicians Third Grade Addison Harp, who will explain the duties of the ward masters in directing the operation of the hospital wards. Musical entertainment on the program will be provided by the Hammond Melody Makers, with Sergeant Arche Luckie serving as the announcer.
Inaugurating a new series of weekly radio broadcasts direct from the patients’ auditorium at the Hammond General Hospital, a variety program featuring hospital talent will be presented from 8:30 to 9 o’clock tonight over station KTRB.
Will Tell Experiences
Highlighting the half hour program will be a radio interview with Private Delbert Raymond, Hammond patient who has undergone a series of 19 plastic surgery operations in less than 12 months at the army hospital. Private Raymond was wounded in overseas action on Guadalcanal when a Japanese mortar shell fell and exploded in this machine gun nest, tearing away one side of his face. Under plastic surgery treatment from army surgeons, his prewar appearance gradually is being restored. He appeared two weeks ago on Sammy Kaye program, broadcast nationally from the Columbia Studios in Hollywood.
Another patient to be featured on tonight’s program is Private Arturo Canzano, former professional entertainer who is well known to night club audiences both in America and abroad. Entertaining vocally to his own guitar accompaniment, he appeared in both the stage and movie versions of This Is the Army, and also performed with the army show, At Your Service, which visited the Hammond post last November.
Additional musical entertainment for the program will be provided by the Hammond Melody Makers, a 15 piece dance band under the direction of Staff Sergeant Mark Berke. Staff Sergeant Arche Luckie of the hospital’s military police section, will serve as program announcer.
Army Hospital Officers, Nurses Will Take Part in Quiz Program
A quarter hour battle of wits between nurses and officers of the Hammond General Hospital tonight will usher in the new Hammond Kwiz Session radio series over station KTRB. The program will be broadcast from 8:30 to 8:45 o’clock, direct from the patients’ recreation hall at the hospital.
Representing officers assigned to the Hammond post will be Major V.J. Gianelli of the medical corps, Captain S.J. Cunningham, transportation officer, and Lieutenant L.J. Zuchelli, operations and training director at the hospital. Nurses scheduled to compete on the brain teaser program will be Misses Roberta Borden, Rose Dull and Lois Peterson.
Staff Sergeant Arche Luckie will serve as kwizmaster, while Sergeant Ken Weida will direct the program arranged by the special services office. All questions to be directed at the commissioned Kwiz Kids are based on material furnished by Bob Hawk, nationally famous radio star.
Flying Fortress Gunner, Injured Over Europe, Tells of Experience
An Interview with Staff Sergeant Corwin Miller Hammond General Hospital patient who is recuperating from wounds received in action as waist gunner on a Flying Fortress operating over Germany highlighted a radio program given last night over KTRB. The program was broadcast direct from the patients’ recreation hall at the hospital where it was presented before an audience of Hammond patients and duty personnel.
Sergeant Miller, a prewar resident of Stockton, holds the army’s Silver Star award, the Air Medal, a Purple Heart and an Oak Leaf Cluster, in addition to a ribbon signifying extensive action in the European war theater. He received multiple flak wounds from anti-aircraft fire while engaged in one of many bombing missions over continental Europe.
Also featured on the program was an open letter from an overseas soldier to civilians on the home front, comparing living conditions in the South Pacific with those in America. The letter was read by Corporal Dean Nelson, a hospital patient and veteran of Guadalcanal. Corporal Nelson was a radio announcer and stage performer in civilian life.
The Hammond Melody Makers directed by Staff Sergeant Mark Berke provided musical entertainment on the program, with Corporal Bob Hatfield supplying the vocals Staff Sergeant Arche Luckie was the announcer.
Reconditioning Section of Army Hospital Will Be Captain’s Topic
The operation of the reconditioning section at the Hammond General Hospital - where patients whose medical treatment has been completed undergo a thorough mental and physical “buildup,” pending their return to duty – will be discussed in a radio interview with Captain Charles E. LaMont, commanding officer of the section, in a program to be given at 8:30 o’clock tonight over station KTRB.
Also to be featured on the half hour broadcast, direct from the Hammond recreation hall, will be the Hammond Melody Makers, under the direction of Staff Sergeant Mark Berke, who will present a variety program of popular dance music. Private First Class Alma Boddy, a WAC patient at the hospital will be interviewed briefly regarding the opportunities available for women in the women’s army corps. Staff Sergeant Arche Luckie of the military police detachment will serve as the program announcer and interviewer.
A “hello mom” benefit dance to raise funds for telephone calls for wounded servicemen stationed at Hammond General Hospital will be held in the Uptown Ballroom Thursday evening June 7th.
The dance is being held in conjunction with the current “dime a week club” drive to swell the Hammond telephone service fund, which provides free calls for veterans temporarily lacking sufficient money for long distance calls home.
Orchestra Will Play
Music will be provided by Mel Cardwell and his orchestra, with the Moore Equipment Company, originators of the “dime a week club,” sponsoring their appearance.
“Prizes for the evening will be provided by Topper Jewelers, who are giving a War Bond and other awards, the Home Market, giving a $10 merchandise order, and Loomis Floral Ship, which will present a corsage to every twenty fifth woman attending the dance. A major portion of the dance music will be broadcast over radio station KTRB. The dance will be from 9 P.M. to 1 A.M.
Several hundred persons attended the Hello, Mom benefit dance in the Uptown Ballroom last night. Proceeds will go to the Hammond General Hospital telephone service fund.
Three long distance calls by patients stationed at Hammond were the highlight of the evening. Private First Class Clarence E. Denman talked to his mother in Phoenix, Ariz., for the first time in 30 months. He fought on Makin and Saipan Islands and was wounded on Okinawa two weeks ago. Sergeant Bob Covington conversed with his girl friend in Amarillo, Texas, for the first time since he left for overseas. He saw action in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, where he was wounded.
Private Hitashi Inouye of Honolulu, Hawaii, had a long conversation with his brother via trans-Pacific telephone. He scheduled to talk to his mother for the first time in 27 months, but she was not at home when the call went through. There was a prolonged silence in the ballroom as Private Denman, with a catch in his throat, said, “Hello, Mom.” Afterwards he commented it felt “pretty wonderful” to talk to her. Each of the soldiers received a cheer from the audience following the calls Radio Station KTRB broadcast the program and, in addition, made a transcription which it will give to each of the patients.
Colonel Poust Speaks
Colonel L.R. Poust, Hammond commanding officer, thanked those who made the dance possible and pointed out the “tremendous good” the calls do for the wounded veterans. The dance was held in conjunction with the current Dime a Week Club drive to swell the Hammond telephone service fund, which provides free calls for veterans arriving at the hospital. Prizes for the evening were provided by Topper Jewelry Store. They included a War Bond, the telephone calls, other awards and cigarette lighters to the three soldiers on the phone. The Loomis Floral Shop gave corsages to every twenty fifth woman; the Home Market a $10 merchandise order, and the Hart Floral Company bouquets which were auctioned off, with proceeds going to the telephone fund.
Telephone Fund at Army Hospital Is Given $1,026.89
Colonel L.R. Poust, commandant at Hammond Hospital, was presented a check for $1,026.89 for use by the hospital’s telephone service fund yesterday in a broadcast over radio station KTRB. The check represented proceeds from the Hello Mom benefit dance, the Dime a Week banks placed in downtown Modesto stores and from radio listeners. The money will be used to pay for long distance telephone calls by patients at Hammond.
Colonel Poust, after receiving the check said: “As Hammond’s commanding officer and in behalf of the patients I extend my sincere appreciation to the public for its splendid cooperation in making this donation possible. This service is of inestimable value to the veterans, especially to the bed patients who are permitted to telephone directly from their bedsides.”
The one hundred and seventieth anniversary of the army medical corps will be observed during the Hammond General Hospital biweekly radio program over station KTRB tonight from 8:30 to 9 o’clock. Colonel L.R. Poust, commandant of the hospital here, will be the principal speaker. A citation given Lieutenant Elmonte Dye for medical evacuation work overseas will be read. Vocalists will be Corporal Ray Eiseman and WAC Corporal Joyce Frost. The latter is a newcomer to the Hammond radio program. Music will be furnished by the Hammond Melody Makers, directed by Technical Sergeant Mark Berke.