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Doctor’s Tales of a World War II “M.A.S.H.” Unit Come to Life on 75th Anniversary

Belvedere, CA, April 12, 2017 --( Imagine if a young doctor serving in a M.A.S.H.-type medical unit during World War II were able to blog about his indelible experiences, and share them with family and friends as they happened. The result would be Dear, a new tribute web site that lets readers re-live the doctor's remarkable WWII encounters through his own eyes -- 75 years to the day after he wrote about them.

Since there was no Internet in April of 1942, René Bine Jr., MD -- a 26-year-old physician and newly minted Army lieutenant – used his portable Remington to type the greeting “Dear Folksies” atop the first of what would become more than 250 letters home, sent from locations in the North African and European theaters of WWII. His very first letter, mailed from Ft. Lewis, Washington to his parents in San Francisco, will kick off the Dear Folksies web site on April 11, 2017. Readers who follow Dear Folksies: 75 Years Ago in a World War II M.A.S.H. Unit ( will receive notifications for each subsequent letter, all of which will be posted 75 years to the day after they were written.

Like a true-life version of the television show M*A*S*H, Dr. Bine wrote about and photographed his fascinating and frustrating military experiences; his medical triumphs and failures; the camaraderie with fellow doctors and non-physician members of the 59th Evacuation Hospital Unit; the amusing and touching encounters with civilians; and his relationship with a nurse named Lois.

These experiences were truly unforgettable. In a 1942 letter from Camp Pickett, New Jersey, Dr. Bine describes a French cousin’s escape from a German prison camp disguised as an orderly and eventually making his way to the United States. In a 1943 letter from Casablanca, he describes a Corporal in the unit who “has perfected a Carmen Miranda act that is a wow.” In a missive from Sicily, Dr. Bine recounts his first experience of riding in airplane, feeling “like one is on a small magic carpet.”

On August 18, 1944, Dr. Bine describes wading ashore near St. Tropez the morning of D-Day and sitting on a hillside that evening playing bridge and drinking French wine. Later that year, he describes being one of six surgeons to operate simultaneously on an elderly French patient in order to minimize his time under anesthesia. On June 11, 1945, he reports from Germany about caring for a 14-year-old boy who had miraculously survived the “freezing experiments” the Nazis performed on prisoners at the infamous Dachau concentration camp.

Few have lived through anything like what Dr. Bine and the rest of his "greatest generation" colleagues in the 59th Evacuation Hospital experienced during WW II. But now anyone can share Dr. Bine’s experiences through the Dear Folksies web tribute, which will run the entire length of his 3-1/2 year tour – in real time.

“In August 1945, a month before my father left Paris to return to San Francisco, he wrote that he was sending the carbon copies of his letters home under separate cover, with the intention of some day clipping out portions to make a consecutive story,” says Linda Bine, creator of the Dear Folksies tribute site. “Sadly, when he passed away in 1985, after nearly 40 years as an internist and cardiologist, he had been too busy caring for his patients to put together his story. So, I’m doing it for him with the Dear Folksies website.”

Dear Folksies launches April 11, 2017, at
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Linda Bine
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