War is, of course, terrible. Any war. All the suffering, all the death, all the wounded, the destruction, homelessness, cruelty, hunger, fear, and panic. It may also bring out the best in some people: heroism, patriotism, compassion, and altruism. But one would never think that war might be seen as an adventure; in some ways for me it was.
In this short book I write about my memories of this period of time from the invasion of Belgium, through the German occupation, and to the immediate post war era. For most Belgians this was a hard and sad time full of suffering. While I experienced some of that suffering and the fear as well, many of my memories are about exciting events and experiences (to a young boy), to the point that I remember this time as an “adventure.”
I will justifiably be faulted for talking so lightly about this dark period in Belgium’s and the world’s history and for seemingly having somewhat enjoyed it all , while people were indiscriminately killed, tortured, and exterminated by the Nazis and while there was much suffering, destruction, maiming, and death. Remember though that I was a little boy growing up and mostly unaware of the atrocities occurring away from my immediate environment. Also, my parents did their best to shelter me from the many horrors.
If a reader is offended by this, I do apologize and want to reassure the reader that now at age 83, I am of course fully aware of the darkness of the years between 1940 and 1945. Seen in this light I do hope that this will be an interesting and enjoyable read for contemporaries and others.
I was born on November 3, 1933 in a small town close the major port of Antwerp in Belgium. All of my primary and high school education was in Antwerp. I lived through WW II and the German occupation.
I went to medical school at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, where I graduated in 1958. My internship was in Schenectady, New York. When I finished the internship, Belgium still had an obligatory military service. Instead I signed up with the Belgian colonial health service and was assigned to a government hospital in the interior of the former Belgian Congo, now called, after their independence from Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I left there in the middle of 1960 shortly after that country obtained its independence.
After completing a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami in 1965, I completed a two year fellowship in reproductive endocrinology in Miami and then joined the faculty of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department of the UM. I rose rapidly in the academic ranks and was promoted to full professor in 1974.
Wanting to retire early from my academic position, I left the full time practice there at the end of 1989 at the age of 55. However I remained in the faculty and to date I am an Emeritus Clinical Professor of the University of Miami.
After leaving the University of Miami, I worked for various lengths of time as an obstetrician and gynecologist in a number of locations around the world and and in the USA. These locations include : Okinawa Japan; Karachi, Pakistan; Sitka, Alaska, Queensland, Australia; Tasmania, Australia; New Zealand; St Lucia in the Caribbean; Chiapas, Mexico. Many of my assignments were organized through an organization out of Salt Lake City in Utah, called Global Medical Staffing. This organization recently ran an article about our travels and experiences in their newsletter.
Currently (2017), I am retired from clinical practice and am Emeritus Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. I am also voluntary professor at the Florida International University, Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, where I am member of the Medical College Admissions Committee and interview medical school applicants.
I am board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility and maintain a license to practice in Florida.
I have belonged to a number of professional societies and have carried a number of editorial and peer review responsibilities. I was honored with a Fogarty Senior International Fellowship for one year in 1997 at the University of Goteborg in Sweden. I am an author of more than 150 publications in various professional journals.
I am married to Anne and have four children and eight grandchildren. I am fluent in English, Dutch and French and conversant in Spanish. My wife and I are both in excellent physical health. We enjoy outdoor activities and we were both competitive swimmers. We do a lot of traveling within the USA and in other countries.
I can be reached at: email@example.com