April 2, 2022
Birch Bay, Washington
Subsequent to my recent hour interview with Dawn Gepfer and the Atlanta Branch of Sisters In Crime several critics raised the question of my father’s “heart condition” after I presented his full UNRRA application and published it in BDA. One critic, who never knew or met or had known George Hodel in life speculates on his 1945 health condition as, “incapabilities as a ‘murder’ because “he could barely walk from one room to the next without gasping.”
This speculation by an individual who never knew GHH in life is totally false and in truth, my father NEVER exhibited any physical impairments of any kind during the sixty years that I knew him. The first signs of any “heart conditions and impairment” came circa 1997 at age 89. At that point in his advanced age, he did begin to show a dramatic health change and his physical health quickly deteriorated and he became wheelchair-bound in late 1998, and after several attempts to correct the fibrillation, he decided to take his own life by suicide (Seconal overdose) in May 1999. (This was not out of remorse, but rather, because he feared a stroke and paralysis that would inflict heavy health costs with no real results. He worried about the financial impact on his surviving wife, June, who was forty years younger, and decided euthanasia was the best way out. )
My father did have Rheumatic Fever as a young boy and it is my understanding that this created a heart murmur throughout his long life, but was in no way a physical impairment. Consequently as shown and published on his August 1945 UNRRA application the condition (“angina pectoris”) did prevent him, at age 38, from being accepted in both the active Army and Navy. In addressing that point on his application (scanned response from actual application below) Dr. Hodel wrote:
…”Upon applying for active duty in the Army, I was examined, reexamined, and asked to sign a waiver, because of a history of Angina Pectoris. This waiver I signed, but was presently informed that because of this condition I could not be accepted for either general or limited duty, even though the condition is not incapacitating.”
GHH’s classification of “IV-B” had nothing to do with his physical health and was a Federal classification for “a deferment due to his being an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service. ” Dr. Hodel resigned his public health officer status, passed his physical for UNRRA and after preliminary service in WA D.C. was sent to China in February 1946 and given an honorary appointment as a Lt.General. After nearly one year of service, he returned and resumed his medical practice in Los Angeles.
“Lt.General” George Hill Hodel M.D. on active duty assignment in China 1946.