This website honors 1/501 medics of the past and present!

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Geronimo's Medicine Men - Vietnam

The plaque below honors Geronimo's nine Medicine Men killed in action in the Republic of Vietnam.
BAS LZ Sally - memorial honors medics killed in action (may be the same plaque as above - the battalion moved from LZ Sally to Phu Bai).

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Vietnam era final lecture by training sergeant at Fort Sam Houston, Medical Corpsman Training found in the book, MEDIC by Ben Sherman (2002):

"You learned all we can teach you, men. You've done well. We've all done well. But listen to me one more time. What have I told you Gomers a hundred-and-a-half times?"

"Restore breathing! Stop bleeding! Make mobile!"

"You WILL do that WELL! I be-LIEVE you. And you WILL do everything you learned here every technique, every field drill, every maneuver you will do EVERYTHING ab-so-LUTE-ly perfect. And you will do ALL of these things with tears in your eyes . . . and your stomach in your throat."

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LEFT - Medical Supply - Doc Johnson on duty ! ! !

RIGHT: Doc Tessmer playing horseshoes during standdown in Phu Bai rear area. Robert A Tessmer passed away in Dec 1978. He will never be forgotten by the soldiers he served with!

===================================== Ode to the Infantryman in RVN
Anonymous Signal Corpsman in Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam
(From the VIETNAM REPORTED, October 1965)

I lie in my tent
Thanking God for free rent
While outside the rain pours
And inside my buddy snores
Muddy floors and a wet cot
But still thanking God a lot.
Got hot chow every day
Rain or shine, come what may,
Got a dog 'bout two weeks old
Eats C-rations hot or cold.
Special Forces all around

Keeping safe this hallowed ground
1st Cav in the air
Landing, fighting here and there.
Ain't got much but could be worse
Just ask the men in the 101st.

=====================================

101st AIRBORNE DIVISION WAR CASUALTIES

WWII KIA 2,090 WIA 6,388 (214 days in combat)
Vietnam KIA 4,011 WIA 18,259 (6 yrs, 7 mo, 10 days in country)
Desert Storm KIA -0- WIA -0- (4 days in combat)
Afghanistan KIA -0- WIA -0- (8 months in country)
Iraq War KIA 161 WIA 800 (as of Nov 2006)

Source: VFW Magazine, May 2007
501st casualties in Vietnam were 507

 

BAS Phu Bai - rear entrance (medical supply).
Webmaster preparing for BRF (Battalion Reaction Force) duty, BAS Phu Bai.
BAS Forward, Red Beach (Da Nang AO). In the photo are webmaster and 91C Weber.
Photo left Doc Loren Johnson - C Company

Website:
http://cco-1bn501-nam.webs.com

Article - MEDICS

This was compiled from members of the 34th Public Information Detachment, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), 1971 Republic of S. Vietnam.

The sharp crack of an enemy rifle an the groan of a wounded Screaming Eagle break the jungle's silence. In one simultaneous movement everyone in the platoon hits the dirt to look for the enemy. All remain motionless except for one man. He crawls through the low vines and shrubbery to the wounded trooper.

While the two forces exchange fire, the medic quickly throws off his rucksack and begins treating the bullet wound in the trooper's lower leg. After cutting away the man's pant leg up to his knee, the medic reaches into his aid bag and pulls out a pressure bandage, places it on the wound and winds and ties the two straps around the man's leg.

He reaches into his green bag a second time, pulling out an intravenous set and a pint bottle of clear saline solution. Ripping apart the sterile plastic bag that houses the set, he takes out the needle and tube, connects the tube to the bottle of solution, then to the needle. After rolling up the wounded man's sleeve, a trouniquet is placed around his upper arm. Then the medic inserts the needle into the shoulder's forearm. The bottle of vital, blood-replacing liquid will flow into the man's veins for 25 minutes, enough time to sustain the soldiers until a "Medevac" helicopter flies in to take him to the hospital.

With three pieces of equipment -- pressure dressings, a bottle of saline solution, and an intravenous set -- Screaming Eagle medics have saved the lives of countless comrades. That's their job -- "to conserve the fighting strength".

There is one combat medic in every infantry platoon. Almost without exception, the medic is called "Doc" by his friends, a title which he earns. He is the infantryman's family doctor, helping the sick and injured, soothing the distraught and befriending all. A soldier can become a combat medic in two ways: wither he volunteers, or he has an aptitude which makes it imperative that he be trained to become a medic.

The combat medic arrives in Vietnam after 10 weeks of training at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Half of his training is devoted to hospital work. The other half is spent on trouniquets, intravenous injections, pressure dressings and splints. A large amount of his time is spent practicing the life-saving steps on another trainee. The last week is spent on a field training exercise, climaxed by a life-saving trek. The class is divided into four-man litter teams which have to carry a wounded man one quarter mile in the dark through thick foliage, barbed wire, and streams, keeping the patient protected at all times.

"You don't have much need for a litter team in the 101st with the Medevac helicopters," said one medic, "but the exercise enforces the importance of doing your job in spite of all obstacles."

"You get a short familiarization course in medications and minor ailments," said another medic, "but when you get to Vietnam, you have to become skillful at treating the ailments peculiar to this country. You have to learn which medication works best on a particular fungus on a particular man. Some men will even tell you what medication to use because it has worked for them in the past. You also pick up other bits of experience from other medics who have been in the field for awhile.

A green, zippered aid bag one-and-a-half feet long by a foot wide by six inches deep, strapped to the medic's rucksack contains everything he needs to treat anything from a combat casualty to an infected boil. Fully-loaded the aid bas weighs 25-30 pounds and not an ounce is wasted. The medic has to work with what he carries on his back. And to be sure he has all he can carry, he uses his rucksack to hold extra bottles of saline or dextrin solution, giving up space that would normally be used for some of his personal items. Strapped to his rucksack he also carries extra canteens of water for heat casualties in the summer and for fever or chills during the winter monsoon.

A normal day for a combat medic begins at dawn with sick call. Several troops gather around his rucksack. The "Doc" quickly washes the dirt from a cut on the first man's arm with hydrogen peroxide, dries it with gauze, and bandages it. "Let me dress it again tonight," he tells the man as he leaves, then turns to the next patient. "How's the hand?"

"Still swollen." The medic pulls out his scissors and cuts the wrapped gauze from the soldier's hand, swollen from a bacterial infection. "Have you been taking the penicillin pills every six hours?" "Yes." "Okay, I'll dress it again today, If it doesn't get better by tomorrow we'll get you to the aid station and get it cleaned up."

Five or six patients later sick call ends and "Doc" makes his rounds, passing out the daily malaria pills. Then the platoon "rucks up" to move out on patrol. He stays with the patrol wherever it goes; walking, slipping, and sweating along with every other member of the unit. As they move, he is as alert for danger as the rest but, at the same time, he is keenly aware that only he has the life-saving skills which may be needed at any moment. His only wish is that that time will never come. Whatever the roll -- "Doc", friend or both -- the medic serves with a sense of devotion and responsibility that marks him as a "Man with a mission". Often that mission involves a life or death battle; usually the medic and life win.

Members of the 34th PID were:

Craig Latham

Charles Kahn

Mike VanStrein