Navy Medicine in Vietnam

Oral Histories from Dien Bien Phu to the Fall of Saigon

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About the Book

The book chronicles the Navy Medical Department’s participation in Vietnam, beginning with the Navy’s rescue of the French survivors of the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and ending with the Navy’s rescue of Vietnamese refugees fleeing the fall of South Vietnam in 1975. When American involvement reached its peak in 1968, the 750-bed Naval Support Activity Hospital Danang (NSAH) was in full operation, and two hospital ships—the USS Repose and the USS Sanctuary—cruised offshore. Whether the situation called for saving the lives of injured sailors aboard a burning aircraft carrier or treating a critically wounded Marine for shock in the rubble-strewn streets of Hue, Navy medical personnel were in Vietnam from the beginning of American involvement to the very end, saving thousands of lives. This book tells the story of the Navy Medical Department’s involvement through stark and gripping first-person accounts by patients and the Navy physicians, dentists, nurses, and hospital corpsmen who treated them. More than 50 historic photos document their work.

About the Author(s)

Since 1979, Jan K. Herman was the chief medical historian of the Navy from 1979 to 2012, and editor-in-chief of Navy Medicine. He is the recipient of the 2015 Forrest C. Pogue Award for Significant Contributions to Oral History and lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Jan K. Herman
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 365
Bibliographic Info: 56 photos, appendices, glossary, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2018 [2009]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7528-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5241-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Passage to Freedom      3
2. An American War      25
3. Hearts and Minds      45
4. Medical Battalions in a Frontless War      68
5. Intrepid Surgeons      101
6. Corpsman Up!      108
7. Medal of Honor      150
8. Naval Support Activity Hospital Danang      155
9. Ships of Mercy      178
10. Holocaust on Yankee Station      200
11. Hue      211
12. Khe Sanh      230
13. Prisoner of War      251
14. Mending      269
15. Full Circle      289

Epilogue: The Journey Back      317
Appendix 1: The Cast      329
Appendix 2: Medal of Honor Citations      336
Appendix 3: Small Arms      339
Glossary      341
Chapter Notes      345
Bibliography      349
Index      353

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A valuable read”—The Journal of Military History
  • “Beautifully written and artfully compiled…an important addition…highly recommend[ed]”—Navy Nurse Corps Association Newsletter
  • “Highly readable”—Journal of Navy Medicine
  • “Jan Herman, historian of the Navy Medical Department, has done most impressive work with this moving collection of first-hand accounts chronicles Navy Medical Corps service in Vietnam”—Proceedings
  • “Collection of profoundly moving narratives…photos are heartrending”—SciTech Book News