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Doctor Curmudgeon® Why There is No Star

By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist

Renpet and I sat on our little kitchen terrace.

It was a quiet time for us as she awaited the limousine that would soon whisk her away to some place or other.

The whisking away in limousines was not unusual for my feline cousin, Renpet, as she is an (allegedly) retired CIA officer.

It is usual for the family to have a warning that she is about to leave for parts unknown when we see her nondescript bag at the door.

Turning to her I said “Cuz, no bag? You’re going somewhere?”

Purring softly, she said, “This is one little excursion that I can tell you about. It is just a gathering of retired females from my former employ. We get together a couple of times a year.”

Renpet continued, “We’re meeting to discuss a colleague who served in the OSS in World War II.”

“I’ve heard of the OSS.”

Renpet explained, “As you can well imagine, during world War II there was a great need for intelligence gathering and analysis.

“Frank Knox was the secretary of the navy at that time and he urged President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help the British survive by establishing such an agency.

“So, Roosevelt issued an executive order which created the OSS. An attorney who was also a hero in World War I was commissioned as a general of the army and he was chosen to lead the agency. That was the famous William “Wild Bill” Donovan.

“Then, President Harry Truman shut down the Oss in 1945 and in 1947, he created the CIA with many former OSS operatives.”

“Ah, that was a cool history lesson…but please you tell us so little but you said you could tell me what this meeting is about.”

Always immaculate Renpet cleaned her tail then answered “It’s about Jane Burrell, who worked for the OSS. She was a brilliant woman, fluent in French. She was married to a naval officer stationed in Washington. We don’t know how she heard about the OSS, but she applied and became an officer in 1943.

“After the OSS metamorphosed into the CIA, she became a CIA officer and was the first CIA officer to die while she was serving.

“Her duties are very unclear to our retired female CIA group, but a few of my colleagues have found declassified records showing that she never had any official recognition for her work.

“It is believed that she died during a mission, but there is no star for her on our Memorial Wall.”

“But, Renpet, I thought there were never any names on that wall, anyway, just a star.”

“True, but we ‘know’ whom each star represents.

“In 2003, a paper was released indicating that Jane Burrell worked with a team that was searching for Nazi Gold.

“It was on January 6, 1948 that she was returning from Brussels on an Air France DC-3 . It appears that the pilots misjudged their approach to the Le Bourget airport just outside of Paris. All sixteen passengers on that flight perished.

“Jane Burrell had been listed under a false identity and was noted as an American clerk.

“She never got her star because her death occurred on a commercial aircraft and did not qualify her for that recognition.

A horn interrupted our family chat and as we walked downstairs, I said to Renpet, “I would really like to hear more of her story.”

She did not respond as she walked toward the door.

I reminded her that she had once told me that I could ask questions.

Turning to smile as the door was opened for her by a very husky gentleman in a dark suit, she answered, “Yes, you can ask.”

Dr. Curmudgeon suggests “Bitter Medicine”, Dr. Eugene Eisman’s story of his experiences–from the humorous to the intense—as a young army doctor serving in the Vietnam War.
Bitter Medicine by Eugene H. Eisman, M.D. –on Amazon

Doctor Curmudgeon® is Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D., a physician-satirist. This column originally appeared on SERMO, the leading global social network for doctors.

SERMO www.sermo.com

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