Medical treatment began on the battlefield with combat medics and other
soldiers doing what they
could to save lives. In the midst of horrendous combat they applied the four lifesaving steps:
|(a) Stop the bleeding.
(c) Protect the wound.
|(b) Clear and maintain airway.
(d) Prevent or treat for shock.
Each soldier carried at least one of these: Dressing, First Aid, Field, Individual troop, Camouflaged,
4 by 7 inches, Sterilized. The slightly wounded were treated in the field or sent back to the battalion
aid station. More seriously wounded soldiers were treated as best as possible and then evacuated
by emergency helicopter flights for life saving treatment. Link here for a tribute to "Doc"- the medic.
These soldiers from the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry, wounded during the Battle of Lo Giang in TET '68
just south of Da Nang, were treated on the naval hospital ship, the USS Sanctuary. Photo by Don
Kaiser (1-6 Inf 1967-68).
The USS Sanctuary was 522 ft long, 71 ft wide, and drew 30 feet of water. In accordance with the
Hague and Geneva Conventions, the floating hospital carried no armament In WWII, the USS
Sanctuary had served as an ambulance ship that carried the wounded and sick to rear area hospitals.
Taken out of mothballs in 1967, the ship was equipped with a helicopter landing area deck, three
X-ray machines, four operating rooms, and equipment for 20 wards. With a crew of 568 (including
316 medical personnel), the ship had room for 796 patients. The ship lay off the coast of Vietnam
for 50 days at a time, close to Da Nang, Chu Lai, and elsewhere, depending upon the area of fighting.
For additional information about the ship, and some extraordinary photos, the USS Sanctuary web site.
Official US Navy photo.
First stop for the Medivac "dust off" flight after picking up the wounded - the landing pad at the 91st
Evacuation Hospital in Chu Lai on a rocky bluff overlooking the South China Sea. The 91st EVAC
had moved to Chu Lai in July, 1969, and had taken over the facilities previously used by the 312th
Evacuation Hospital. The commanding officer of the 91st EVAC in 1970 (Colonel Keawyn Nehoa)
said the facility was "the most active hospital in Vietnam with the greatest turnover of patients."
A medivac ride to the rear was part of the Vietnam experience for far too many soldiers. Over
400 infantrymen in the 1st Battalion 6th Infantry took that trip in 1970. This is a significant number,
as the field operating strength of the unit was about 575. For many it was their last ride to anywhere.
The wounded were carried or walked on their own through these doors into R&E triage.
Supplies were stocked so they were available when casualties were brought in from the landing pad.
Wounded soldiers on stretchers were placed on the sawhorse shaped supports. Everything was within
reach, and everything was stocked the same--that way the nurses did not have to look for what they
needed to render aid to the wounded. Many of us owe the nurses----they treated the wounded and
comforted the dying. They were soldiers who suffered and made sacrifices.
The 91st EVAC was staffed with 113 medical officers and 223 enlisted personnel. Capable of
treating all acute injuries, including brain surgery as well as heart and eye surgery, the hospital treated
an average of 800 patients per month in 1970-71. Some patients were transferred on to the 249th
General Hospital near Tachikawa AFB in Japan for additional treatment or eventual evacuation to
hospitals in the USA.
Color photos provided by Chris Banigan (CBANIGAN@aol.com), an Army Nurse
at both the 27th Surgical Hospital and the 91st Evacuation Hospital at Chu Lai during 1970 and
1971. Visit her web site for a view of the war through the eyes of an Army Nurse. Black and white
photos by SP4 Guy Winkler from a photo essay entitled "'Dust Offs' and the road to recovery"
in a 1970 issue of the Southern Cross (the Americal Division newspaper).
Click here for another 91st EVAC nurse web site (from Anna Marie, July 70 - July 71)
Select additional photos from Photo Index at left, or link to the 1st
Bn 6th Inf Home