Naval History and Heritage Command Goes Digital with “U.S. Navy and the Vietnam War”

April 2, 2020

The lavishly illustrated historical series includes both ePub and MOBI formats for each volume of the educational and narrative volumes about the U.S. Navy’s varied operations during the Vietnam War.

I was not yet born at the beginning of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and was a young girl when the war ended. Therefore, reading these early volumes detailing the United States’ intervention in the Indochina conflict and the U.S. Navy’s many-faceted role, ranging from humanitarian aid missions over riverine warfare to carrier-launched air strikes, was enlightening to me.

Although I’ve spent much of my life reading in print format, I’ve embraced the birth of digital formats that allow for an easy, lightweight alternative for reading an extensive historical series such as this one.

This series comprises nine distinct volumes, each portraying a different aspect of the U.S. Navy’s missions during Vietnam War and bridging five Presidential administrations – those of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald Ford. The volumes of this series that appeared most interesting to me are those that touch upon the extensive use of high-altitude reconnaissance photography for intelligence purposes. (Today’s equivalents are most likely the employment of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.)

However, each volume of this series serves its purpose: to detail the multifaceted operational role of the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. Approaching Storm details the waning years of French colonial governance and “Passage to Freedom,” the U.S. Navy’s 1954 humanitarian evacuation operation and the service’s first large-scale, in-theater deployment. Other volumes cover the many types of naval operations ranging from carrier air strikes offshore in the South China Sea over combat in South Vietnam’s canals and rivers to special warfare missions with the goals of collecting intelligence and neutralizing Communist command and control. The Battle Behind Bars shares the wrenching stories of many Navy and Marine POWs (prisoners of war), most of them downed naval aviators, in North Vietnamese captivity. Navy Medicine in Vietnam also speaks to me, as it highlights a Navy nurse’s reflections on the only land-based naval hospital in Vietnam. My mother served as registered nurse and head nurse at the West Haven, Connecticut, Veterans Medical Center and received patients for recovery after the Korean and Vietnam wars. Her stories, ranging from triage care performed by front-line medical teams to Stateside recovery care, were similar to the one featured in this volume.

Grab your tablet or e-reader, and download these digital format references about the Navy’s role in the Vietnam War, free of charge! I’ve provided a synopsis for each volume so you can read the volumes that most interest you to the entire series. Happy reading!

Approaching Storm: Conflict in Asia, 1945–1965

This work is the first in NHHC’s Vietnam War series. It describes the U.S. response to Communist movements in Asia after World War II, the initial American support for French colonial forces in the region, and the U.S. Navy’s role as it evolved from an essentially advisory one to actual combat after the Tonkin Gulf attack off North Vietnam in August 1964. The real and purported North Vietnamese attacks on the U.S. Navy ships in the Tonkin Gulf gave President Lyndon B. Johnson sufficient reason to broaden and expand U.S. involvement in the conflict. The volume covers many lesser-known, yet significant, aspects of the initial years of the Vietnam War and the U.S. Navy’s early humanitarian, advisory, and combat operations in southeast Asian waters.

Nixon’s Trident: Naval Power in Southeast Asia, 1968–1972

This volume focuses on the three prongs of the naval “trident” that President Richard M. Nixon wielded during the final years of the Vietnam War: naval air power, naval bombardment, and mine warfare. For much of this period, Navy aircraft sought to hamper the flow of supplies down the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos—a huge investment in air power resources that ultimately proved fruitless. After North Vietnam’s invasion of the South in 1972, however, Navy tactical aviation, as well as naval bombardment, proved critical not only in blunting the offensive, but also in persuading North Vietnam to arrive at a peace agreement in Paris in 1973. For the first time in the war, the Navy was also authorized to close Haiphong Harbor and North Vietnam’s other ports with naval mines—an operation that still stands out as a textbook example of how mine warfare can inflict a major economic and psychological blow on the enemy with minimal casualties for either side. Thus, naval power was indispensable to ending America’s longest war.

The Battle Behind Bars: Navy and Marine POWs in the Vietnam War

The unconventional nature of the war and the unforgiving environment of Southeast Asia inflicted special hardships on the Vietnam-era POWs, whether they spent captivity in the jungles of the South, or the jails of the North. This book describes the experiences of the 201 captured sea services personnel (157 Navy, 47 Marines)—the similarities and the differences—and how the POWs coped with untreated wounds and other malaises, systematic torture, and boredom. The creative strategies they devised to stay fit, track time, resist the enemy, communicate with one another, and adhere to a chain of command attest to the high standards of conduct in captivity that so distinguish the POWs of the Vietnam War. Personal stories ranging from that of Seaman Apprentice Douglas B. Hegdahl, the youngest POW, to that of then-Commander James Stockdale, the senior U.S. Navy officer held in captivity, are featured.

Navy Medicine in Vietnam: Passage to Freedom to the Fall of Saigon

Navy Medicine in Vietnam begins and ends with a humanitarian operation—the first, in 1954, after the French were defeated, when refugees fled to South Vietnam to escape from the communist regime in the North; and the second, in 1975, after the fall of Saigon and the final stage of America’s exit that entailed a massive helicopter evacuation of American staff and selected Vietnamese and their families from South Vietnam. In both cases, the Navy provided medical support to avert the spread of disease and tend to basic medical needs. Between those dates, 1954 and 1975, Navy medical personnel responded to the buildup and intensifying combat operations by taking a multipronged approach in treating casualties. Helicopter medical evacuations, triaging, offshore deployment of hospital ships, and a system of moving casualties from short-term to long-term care meant higher rates of survival and targeted care. Poignant recollections of the medical personnel serving in Vietnam, recorded by author Jan Herman, historian of the Navy Medical Department, are a reminder of the great sacrifices these men and women made for their country and their patients.

Combat at Close Quarters: Warfare on the Rivers and Canals of Vietnam

Combat at Close Quarters describes riverine combat during the Vietnam War, emphasizing the operations of the U.S. Navy’s River Patrol Force, the joint U.S. Army–Navy Mobile Riverine Force, and the Vietnam Navy. One section details the SEALORDS combined campaign, a determined effort by the U.S. Navy, Vietnam Navy, and allied ground forces to cut enemy supply lines from Cambodia and disrupt operations at base areas deep in the delta. Also provided are many details of the combat vessels, helicopters, weapons, and equipment employed in the Mekong Delta, as well as the Vietnamese combatants on both sides and American troops who fought to secure Vietnam’s many rivers and canals. The American experience on Vietnam’s waterways is indispensable to understanding the impact of riverine warfare on modern U.S. naval and military operations in the 21st century.

Naval Air War: Rolling Thunder Campaign

Naval Air War: The Rolling Thunder Campaign, the sixth monograph in the series, covers aircraft carrier operations during one of the longest sustained aerial bombing campaigns in history, intended to force North Vietnam into peace negotiations. Despite causing extensive damage to North Vietnam’s infrastructure and its war-making capability, the campaign fell short of its ultimate goal. However, aircraft from U.S. Navy carrier air wings proved essential to the conduct of Rolling Thunder, not least due to the inherent flexibility and mobility of naval forces: U.S. Seventh Fleet aircraft carriers operated with impunity for three years off the coast of North Vietnam. The success with which the Navy executed the later Operation Linebacker campaign against North Vietnam in 1972 revealed how much the service had learned from and exploited the Rolling Thunder experience of 1965–1968.

Knowing the Enemy: Naval Intelligence in Southeast Asia

If you are intrigued by behind-the-scenes knowledge and secret missions, this volume may interest you. Knowing the Enemy details the U.S. Navy intelligence establishment’s support to the war effort in Southeast Asia from 1965 to 1975. It describes the contribution of naval intelligence to key strategic, operational, and tactical aspects of the war. This included the involvement of naval intelligence in the seminal Tonkin Gulf Crisis of 1964 and the Rolling Thunder and Linebacker bombing campaigns; the monitoring of Sino-Soviet bloc military assistance to Hanoi; the operation of the U.S. Seventh Fleet’s reconnaissance aircraft; the enemy’s use of the “neutral” Cambodian port of Sihanoukville; and the support to U.S. Navy riverine operations during the Tet Offensive and the SEALORDS campaign in South Vietnam.

Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Maritime Logistics in the Vietnam War

Fourth Arm of Defense describes the roles of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Merchant Marine in the logistical support of the conflict in Southeast Asia, essentially the lifeline of U.S. and allied combat forces. The monograph details the large-scale deployment of Army and allied troops to the theater of operations by the Navy’s Military Sea Transportation Service (later Military Sealift Command) and the development of essential modern port facilities and cargo-handling procedures in South Vietnam. Also detailed is the dangerous and sometimes deadly effort to deliver ammunition, fuel, and other supplies to Saigon and other ports far upriver. The overall command and control of the 5,000-mile logistics pipeline across the vast Pacific is covered, as is the employment of revolutionary cargo container and roll on/roll off ships. The narrative concludes with the maritime evacuations from South Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975. Always in focus are the service and sacrifice of U.S. Navy sailors and the men of the U.S. Merchant Marine and many other countries who braved tempestuous seas, and ports and rivers subject to enemy attack.

End of the Saga: The Maritime Evacuation of South Vietnam and Cambodia

As the decades-long struggle in Southeast Asia came to a climax in the spring of 1975, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps saved thousands of U.S. citizens and pro-American Vietnamese and Cambodians from the victorious Communist forces. Also covered is the final operation of the decades-long conflict, the recapture of SS Mayaguez from Cambodian Communist forces and the assault on the Cambodian island of Koh Tang by a joint U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force task force. Slightly older readers may recall how the precipitate withdrawal of the United States from Viet Nam and Cambodia presented the disconcerting spectacle of the abandonment of allies and, on a more human level, desertion of a host of individuals who had worked and fought for common aims. Yet behind the tragic elements of the picture, the final evacuations highlighted the skill and courage of American uniformed personnel in the midst of chaos. The U.S. military, especially the Navy and Marine Corps, demonstrated extraordinary professional skill in carrying out large-scale and complicated evacuations. Given the public’s skepticism of American service members at the tail end of the Vietnam War, this performance seems at first glance surprising. However, despite the woes afflicting the military in 1975—racial tensions, counterculture sentiment, drug abuse, a lower quality of recruits—these Americans in uniform showed that that the services retained a solid core of competent and dedicated people, many of whom were instrumental in restoring and advancing the armed forces’ capabilities and image during the 1980s.

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About the author: Blogger contributor Maureen Whelan is a former Supervisory Marketing Specialist in GPO’s Publication and Information Sales program office.


National Vietnam War Veterans Day – March 29

March 29, 2018

On March 29, 1973, President Richard Nixon welcomed home the last of the combat military members from the Vietnam War. In honor of that day, we now celebrate their return and the sacrifices our soldiers made to serve our nation proudly overseas. The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) offers access to the Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017, which designated March 29 as Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Day, through the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP).

GPO’s govinfo offers the original Presidential Proclamation for Vietnam Veterans Day in 1974. As well as several other items from Congressional Records during the period.

The Vietnam War era saw the American citizens sick of decades of foreign wars, and who blamed the soldiers who fought them upon their return. Because of this unfavorable environment, the Vietnam War Veterans waited decades for their sacrifices to be formally recognized.

More than 2.7 million Americans served in uniform in Vietnam, with more than 58,000 of those service members killed during the war. The Tet Offensive played an important role in weakening U.S. public support for the war in Vietnam.

In January of 1968, during the lunar new year (or “Tet”) holiday, North Vietnamese and communist Viet Cong forces launched a coordinated attack against a number of targets in South Vietnam.

The U.S. and South Vietnamese militaries sustained heavy losses before finally repelling the communist assault. This was widely considered the final straw in an already unpopular American war, and led to the withdrawal of all American forces a few years later.

GPO has printed several publications throughout the years that illustrate the intricacies of this contested war.

GPO’s Government Bookstore offers many publications that can help you pay homage to this unique history. Some of those include:

  • Combat Operations: Staying the Course, October 1967-December 1968 describes the twelve-month period when the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese allies embarked on a new and more aggressive strategy that shook the foundations of South Vietnam and forced the United States to reevaluate its military calculations in Southeast Asia. Hanoi’s general offensive-general uprising brought the war to South Vietnam’s cities for the first time and disrupted the allied pacification program that was just beginning to take hold in some rural areas formerly controlled by the Communists. For the enemy, however, those achievements came at a staggering cost in manpower and material; more importantly, the Tet offensive failed to cripple the South Vietnamese government or convince the United States to abandon its ally. As the dust settled from the Viet Cong attacks, President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered his military commanders to press ahead with their current strategy unchanged apart from some short-term tactical adjustments and a modest increase in the U.S. troop deployment. His decision to stay the course seemed to bear fruit as the allies repaired their losses and then forged new gains throughout the summer and autumn of 1968. Even so, the allied situation at the end of this period appeared to be only marginally better than it had been in late 1967; the peace talks in Paris had stalled, and American public opinion had turned decisively against the war.
  • Melvin Laird and the Foundation of the Post-Vietnam Military, 1969-1973 . Melvin Laird became President Richard Nixon’s secretary of defense in January 1969. His challenging agenda included two goals: withdrawing the U.S. military from Vietnam and reshaping U.S. the armed forces for the future. He worked toward ending the inequitable draft system and replacing it with an all-volunteer force of regulars supported by National Guard and Reserve components. Laird’s tenure was also marked by battles with Congress and the administration over the defense budget and the antiballistic military system as well as efforts to strengthen alliances with NATO, East Asian allies, and Israel.
  • Advice and Support: The Final Years, 1965-1973 . In Advice and Support: The Final Years, 1965-1973, Jeffrey J. Clarke describes the U.S. Army advisory effort to the South Vietnamese armed forces during the period when the U.S. commitment in Southeast Asia was at its peak. The account encompasses a broad spectrum of activities at several levels, from the physically demanding work of the battalion advisers on the ground to the more sophisticated undertakings of senior military officers at the highest echelons of the American military assistance command in Saigon.
  • U.S. Army Campaigns of the Vietnam War: Taking the Offensive, October 1966-September 1967 . Taking the Offensive, October 1966–September 1967, by Glenn F. Williams, begins with a discussion of Operation ATTLEBORO in Tay Ninh Province. The largest allied operation to date in the war, ATTLEBORO forced the 9th PLAF Division to abandon its attack on Suoi Da Special Forces camp and cost over 1,000 enemy lives. Additional action in War Zone C, including Operations CEDAR FALLS, JUNCTION CITY, and JUNCTION CITY II, highlight the U.S. Army effort to disrupt the network of camps and supply stores of the North Vietnamese main force units through ground and air assault. Operations in Binh Dinh Province — THAYER I, THAYER II, PERSHING, and LEJUNE — continued to inflict heavy losses on the enemy. The efforts of the U.S. Army throughout Vietnam during this time allowed for growing political stability in South Vietnam leading up to the 3 September 1967 election. This pamphlet contains twelve maps and fifteen illustrations.

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Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

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About the author: Blogger contributor Scott Pauley is a Writer and Editor in GPO’s Library Services and Content Management offices.

 


How Naval Intelligence Shaped the Vietnam War

September 12, 2016

During the Vietnam War, U.S. naval intelligence was a very complex affair. Layers of political organization, military strategy, offensive tactics, and logistical operations shaded the struggle to win in South Vietnam. Much of that portion of the Cold War era is now declassified, illuminating the contributions of the naval intelligence establishment.

008-046-00298-3GPO makes available “Knowing the Enemy: Naval Intelligence in Southeast Asia,” part of the U.S. Department of the Navy series of commemorative studies on the Vietnam War.

The U.S. Navy intelligence effort in Vietnam played out in several pivotal events. Intelligence-gathering squadrons informed operations during 1964’s Tonkin Gulf Crisis and 1968’s Tet Offensive. Naval commands closely traced Soviet and Chinese military aid to North Vietnam and surveilled the use of the vital Cambodian port of Sihanoukville. And analysts processed raw data that informed the Linebacker bombing campaigns and pressed North Korea to eventually negotiate terms to end the war.

A SEAL scans the surroundings during his unit's intelligence-gathering mission in a Mekong Delta village.

A SEAL scans the surroundings during his unit’s intelligence-gathering mission in a Mekong Delta village.

Officers and enlisted personnel gathered and analyzed credible intel on the movement of Communist combat units, the location of Viet Cong encampments, and the flow of weapons and ammunition along the Mekong Delta. The communications, electronic, human, and imagery intelligence they collected was “key to the operational and tactical success of naval forces in the Vietnam War.”

Members of the naval intelligence community that routinely “engaged in intelligence collection often did their dangerous but vital work in direct contact with the enemy.” For example, photo reconnaissance pilots flew fast and furiously into oncoming antiaircraft fire for the best pictures—“since anything worth photographing was likely well-defended.” Hardly desk drones, intelligence staffs “fought face-to-face with the enemy” and suffered causalities for it.

Photo intelligence 3rd Class Charles R. Pearson uses his stereoscopic equipment to analyze an aerial image of an enemy site in Vietnam.

Photo intelligence 3rd Class Charles R. Pearson uses his stereoscopic equipment to analyze an aerial image of an enemy site in Vietnam.

U.S. naval intelligence units furnished operational forces “with information that, for the most part, improved their battle performance…and prospects for survival in combat.” More than anything, the cadre of intelligence professionals helped the American military understand the enemy.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS PUBLICATION?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Chelsea Milko is a Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.

 


National Military Appreciation Month: Celebrating Our Troops

May 12, 2014

may military appreciation monthMay is National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the courageous men and women who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Designated by Congress, NMAM encourages Americans to publicly show their appreciation for the sacrifices—and accomplishments—made by our military personnel. During this important month, Americans have the opportunity to come together to thank our military for their patriotic service in support of our country, at several national events planned throughout the month.

loyalty dayLoyalty Day, which is celebrated May 1 of each year, kicks off our Nation’s month-long celebration of military appreciation. In his proclamation of Loyalty Day, 2014, President Barack Obama reminded Americans of the significance of this important day: “On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.”

Image source courtesy of DOD http://www.defense.gov/afd/

Image source courtesy of DOD http://www.defense.gov/afd/

Other important events honoring our military’s achievements include Victory in Europe (VE) Day celebrated on May 8, Military Spouse Appreciation Day celebrated on May 9, Armed Forces Day celebrated on May 17, and Memorial Day celebrated on May 26. Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day are the best known of the May military-themed holidays. Armed Forces Day, which was created to honor all branches of the U.S. Military, replaced separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. And Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in military service.

A man looks at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day 2013: Image source nps.gov

A man looks at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day 2013: Image source nps.gov

In observance of NMAM and the other important events around the country honoring our military this month, Government Book Talk is highlighting several of our bestselling military journals and magazines.

army historyArmy History is published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH). It is a professional military magazine devoted to informing the military history community about new work on the Army’s history. Issues include illustrated articles, commentaries, book reviews, and news about Army history and the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

naval avaition newsNaval Aviation News is the flagship publication of naval aviation. It covers all aspects of naval air operations. Featured articles review the latest technological advances in aircraft and weapon systems and the influence of U.S. naval air power in global events. Issues include historical profiles of aircraft, aviation ships, important aviators, and organizations that affected the Navy’s control of the air.

military review2As one of the premier military magazines/military journals, Military Review provides a forum for original thought and debate on the art and science of land warfare and other issues of current interest to the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense.

Joint Force Quarterly is designed for national security professionals in and out of the U.S. Government to promote understanding of the integrated employment of land, sea, air, space, and special operations forces. This journal focuses on joint doctrine, integrated operations, coalition warfare, contingency planning, military operations conducted across the spectrum of conflict, and joint force development.joint force quarterly

army al&tArmy AL&T Magazine is a quarterly professional journal published
by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology or AL&T. This official military magazine reports on Army research, development and acquisition and includes articles relative to state-of-the-art technology, capabilities, processes, procedures, techniques, and management philosophy, focusing heavily on lessons learned and best business practices.

How can I get these military magazine/journal publications?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
Click here to purchase Army History

Click here to purchase Naval Aviation News

Click here to purchase Military Review

Click here to purchase Joint Force Quarterly

Click here to purchase Army AL&T

Shop our entire Military Journals and Magazines collection

Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

 

 

 


The Real stories of MASH and disease-fighting Armed Forces medical scientists

April 9, 2014
TV Week final episode cover depicting M*A*S*H television show cast

TV Week final episode cover depicting M*A*S*H television show cast. Did you know that the character of MASH 4077th’s head nurse “Hot Lips” Margaret Houlihan was inspired by two real-life Korean War Army MASH head nurses “Hotlips” Hammerly and Janie Hall?

The music starts. The lyrics to the haunting song “Suicide is Painless” play in your head. The sound and sight of helicopters enter and then you are looking down from the helicopters view on a village of tents and red crosses. The television series M*A*S*H, based on the 1970 movie that was set during the Korean War at the fictitious 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital or M*A*S*H, established itself as one of the greatest shows in history. The show was on air from 1972-1983, and it still lives on today in syndication.

The series finale was broadcasted on February 28, 1983 to 105.9 million viewers, becoming the most watched television broadcast of all time. The record held for nearly three decades until the 2010 Superbowl surpassed M*A*S*H’s record with 106.5 million viewers. The show had the ability to make you cry from both a comedic and emotional standpoint striking a unique balance unlike many shows.

But sometimes real life can be as fascinating as fiction. Learn about the real-life exploits of a genuine Army MASH unit and of brave medical researchers fighting tropical diseases in southeast Asia with two recent Armed Forces medical history publications from the U.S. Army Medical Center and School’s Borden Institute.

Skilled and Resolute: A History of the 12th Evacuation Hospital and the 212th MASH, 1917-2006 ISBN: 9780160922534Skilled and Resolute: A History of the 12th Evacuation Hospital and the 212th MASH, 1917-2006 follows the 90-year history of a medical unit, the 12th Evacuation Hospital and its successor the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, which served in military engagements from World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as many peacekeeping and humanitarian missions. The unit’s goal is to be trained, equipped, and deployable at a moment’s notice.

There are some gruesome pictures in the Vietnam War section, but overall the book is a fascinating read about how medical techniques evolved with warfare practices in makeshift hospitals close to front lines. In 2006, the unit transformed once again to the 212th Combat Support Hospital and was deployed to Afghanistan.

Lt. General George S. Patton visits the US Army 12th Evacuation Hospital (MASH) to award decorations to the World War 2 wounded. (Photo courtesy U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History)

Lt. General George S. Patton visits the US Army 12th Evacuation Hospital (MASH) to award decorations to the wounded. Patton would later infamously get in trouble for slapping a soldier at another World War 2 hospital who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat stress reaction (CSR), which was called shell shock starting in WW 1.  (Photo courtesy U.S. Army Medical Department, Office of Medical History)

The photos in the book look like scenes out of the M*A*S*H television series; you can picture Radar turning is head to the side, pausing to listen and exclaiming “Choppers!” to be followed by the sound of helicopters.

Getting the sick and wounded from the front to a MASH unit during the Korean War. (Image courtesy http://www.koreanwar60.com/army)

Army helicopters were critical for evacuating the sick and wounded from the front to a MASH unit ambulance during the Korean War. (Image courtesy http://www.koreanwar60.com/army)

The Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), 1960-2010: a 50th Anniversary Photographic History ISBN: 9780160918315The Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS), 1960-2010: a 50th Anniversary Photographic History is a lean coffee table book organized by decade. The black and white and color photographs tell the story of AFRIMS – a medical military partnership between the United Sates and Thailand that was founded in response to a cholera epidemic in Thailand in 1959. Within 10 years, a laboratory was built and AFRIMS established the reputation of being a major force in tropical medical research. In the 1970s, the lab played a crucial role in researching and developing treatment for tropical diseases inflicting the military serving in the Vietnam War.

Technology advancements in the 1980s were adapted by AFRIMS and helped with storing and organizing research. In the 1990s and the first decade of the new century, AFRIMS conducted trials impacting the research on vaccines for hepatitis A, malaria, and HIV. The photographs are very compelling and effectively share history while showing the way they conducted research and interacted with the Thai community.

AFRIMS Captain Michael "Mike" Benenson (future USAMC director)  returns a “wai” while the study team prepares medications in the 1973 malaria drug prophylaxis study. (Photograph courtesy of Dr. Michael Benenson)

AFRIMS Captain Michael “Mike” Benenson (future USAMC director) returns a child’s “wai” greeting while the study team prepares medications in the 1973 malaria drug prophylaxis study. (Book photograph courtesy of Dr. Michael Benenson)

HOW DO I GET A COPY OF THESE BOOKS?

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs. 

Additional images and content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Navy and Marine POWs in Vietnam

May 2, 2011

For some time now, the Naval History & Heritage Command has been producing concise studies of the Navy’s role during the Vietnam War. In previous posts, I’ve blogged about Navy Medicine in Vietnam and The Approaching Storm, the latter covering the decade-long run up to the introduction of combat troops in 1965. Today’s subject is The Battle Behind Bars: Navy and Marine POWs in the Vietnam War. The author, the late Stuart Rochester, was particularly well qualified to write on this subject, since he was the co-author of what must be considered the definitive account of POWs in Vietnam – Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961-1973 – published by the Army’sCenter ofMilitary History.

A personal note:This is the first time I’ve written about a book whose author I knew personally. Stuart and I worked together for years, on and off – he as deputy and then chief historian at the Pentagon’s Historical Office and me as a GPO marketing contact for his office’s books. We talked mainly by phone, although we did meet in person a couple of times. He was great to work with, a fine scholar, and I regret he wasn’t able to enjoy his position of chief historian longer before his untimely death from cancer in 2009.

The Battle Behind Bars, as the subtitle indicates, focuses on Navy and Marine POWs. Most of the Navy personnel captured during the war were pilots, so they formed a close-knit group of like-minded individuals. One exception was Seaman Apprentice Douglas B. Hegdahl, who was swept overboard from the missile cruiser Canberra and picked up by North Vietnamese fishermen. In a terrific sidebar, the book describes the incredulity of Hegdahl’s captors when he told them how he had come to be swimming in the Gulf ofTonkin – they understandably found his story so incredible that they assumed he was a spy! Once they accepted that he was a raw recruit, an enlisted man, and had trouble seeing due to the loss of his glasses in the water, he became a kind of camp mascot, perceived as not that bright. In realty, he was smart, alert, and able to serve as a secret mailman for other prisoners under the noses of the guards. He also had a retentive memory that let him memorize a huge amount of information about other POWs, which he revealed to the Navy after his early release by the Vietnamese.  

Another sidebar discusses the use of a “tap code” by Navy POWs to communicate via their cell walls. Initially a simple code, it was changed often to prevent detection, to the point where Defense Intelligence Agency personnel had difficulty in decoding some of the samples the prisoners brought back after their release.

It wasn’t all movie derring-do, however. The book details the poor conditions, attempted ideological indoctrination, and sometimes brutal treatment of prisoners in North Vietnam and the even worse situation of POWS in the South, where they shared the miserable living conditions of their Viet Cong captors. The author is fair-minded enough to point out instances, such as in the area of medical treatment, where the Vietnamese often did provide decent care, albeit under primitive conditions. Overall, though, captivity in Vietnam was a prolonged ordeal which, even as conditions eased after 1970, meant years of misery for American POWs.

This is a fine study of a controversial subject and a fitting capstone to the career of a talented scholar. You can get a copy of The Battle Behind Bars here or find it in a library here.


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