Saber Article Index

2016 Nov-Dec

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961

I.D. confirmation was received about '69 MEDEVAC Medic Becker in the SEP\OCT Saber photo. Input from Mike Smith and others; we know that he is Tim Becker, SP4 Medic with Co. B 15th MED 12-'68-08-'69, and with MEDEVAC 08-'69-12-'69. He lives in Newark, OH, and is now a new member of the 15th MED Bn. Assn. His contact info is on the Unit Member Search List on the Website.

Also, for those who don't know, any member of the 1st Cav Div. Assn. can get information about any other member-call or write. I do not know if Tim Becker is a member of the 1st Cav Div. Assn.

Greg Schlieve of 5-7 Cav. inquired about one of his Medics to find out if 15th MED had anything on him. I told Greg-like I've told so many others-that the 15th Medical Battalion did not control the Medics of the other 1st Cav battalions. They each filled their own slots and managed their own personnel.

From Terry McCarl , "As the Historian of the 15th Medical Bn. Association, I am privileged to research, read, and write about the heroic and meritorious acts of members of the 15th Medical Battalion. There are an abundance of such stories.

"Recently, I became aware of a story about extreme courage, fortitude, endurance, and resourcefulness by a medical professional from another 1st Cav unit, that I feel compelled to share with the veterans of 15th MED Bn. and other medical personnel who served in the Vietnam War. Such is the story of CPT Floyd Harold 'Hal' Kushner, who served as the Flight Surgeon for 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (1-9th Cav) in 1967.

"A friend of mine, CPT Aubrey C. Hall, who was the CO of HSC, 15th Medical Battalion from August '68-August '69, mentioned to me that one of his medical school classmates at the Medical College of Virginia had served with the 1st Cavalry Division and had been a POW. Upon hearing about this, I was more than a little intrigued, and set out to find out more.

"CPT Kushner became a POW on December 2. 1967 and was not released until March 16, 1973, nearly five and a half years later. He is believed to have been the only Medical Corps officer to have been a POW during the Vietnam War.

"CPT Kushner arrived in Vietnam and reported to 1-9th Cav in August 1967 as its new flight surgeon. His predecessor had been KIA. The unit HQ was at LZ Two Bits in Bin Dinh Province, northeast of An Khe. He was immediately flying constantly, performing his duties as flight surgeon.

"CPT Kushner had been transported by UH-1 D helicopter from his home base at LZ Two Bits to Chu Lai on November 30, 1967. The irony of the story is that the trip was made for the purpose of teaching a class to pilots on the dangers of night flying. A storm was brewing and after the class, at about 8:00 PM, Kushner and others on the flight suggested staying overnight at Chu Lai until the weather cleared. The aircraft commander declared that the aircraft had to be returned to LZ Two Bits for a mission the following morning, so they took off in the storm.

"The aircraft got off course and crashed on a mountaintop. CPT Kushner was the sole survivor of the crash. The A/C, MAJ Stephen R. Porcella was killed in the crash, Co-pilot W01 Griffith B. Bedworth died while waiting for rescuers with CPT Kushner, and the Crew Chief, SSG Kenneth D. McKee, the only one not seriously injured, was killed by VC while going for help.

"CPT Kushner was captured by the VC on December 2, 1967 and taken to a POW camp located about fifty kilometers west of Tam Ky in Quang Nam Province, southwest of Da Nang. He and other prisoners were moved around among several other prison camps until when in 1971, they were marched nine hundred kilometers to Hanoi, a trip of fifty-seven days, to a prison camp called 'The Plantation.' In December 1972, they were transferred to the infamous Hanoi Hilton. He was released on March 16, 1973, as part of a massive POW release called Operation Homecoming.

"During those five and a half years of captivity, he and his fellow prisoners were subjected to unspeakable physical and mental torture, propaganda bombardment, malnutrition, sickness, and disease, with general withholding of medical care by the VC. As a medical doctor, CPT Kushner was officially not allowed to treat his fellow prisoners. However, he did treat them as best he could without any medical equipment other than some razor blades that he used to perform minor surgery such as lancing boils and other injuries. He encouraged fellow POW's to fake malaria and dysentery in order to obtain at least some medical supplies from the VC. These supplies were secretly stockpiled by him for future use as needed. "Unfortunately, without proper medication and equipment, all he could do was provide comfort to fellow POW's who were dying of various illnesses, as the VC would not provide them. His supervision of his fellow POW's in matters of diet, personal hygiene, and sanitation no doubt saved many lives. "Perhaps the crowning achievement of his military career, on July 29, 1971, he was able to save the life of a fellow POW who was having a heart attack. For this, he was awarded the Silver Star.

"COL Kushner returned home in 1973 and served on active duty until 1977. He served in the Army Reserves until 1986 at which time he retired at the rank of COL. He has since been in private ophthalmology practice in Daytona Beach, FL. .

"In 2001, the 1-9th Cav Medical Clinic at Ft. Hood, TX was named in his honor. Besides the Silver Star, he received the POW Medal and the Soldier's Medal. He was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.

"To read COL Kushner's complete story in his own words, go to Library/War Stories/Author Stories. In Author Column, search for 'Kushner, Hal (Dr.)', click on 'Personal Story, 1967, by Dr. Hal Kushner.'

"Sadly, his home was severely damaged by Hurricane Matthew. He is in the process of rebuilding.

"If anyone would like to contact him, please e-mail me at ; call me at (402)296-3150; or write to me at: 1122 Main St, Plattsmouth, NE 68048, and I will relay your message to him. Terry A. McCarl, Historian, 15th Medical Battalion Association 1LT, MSC, 11/68-11/69."

Terry says to use the above contact information for him for inquiries about anyone else. Tell him whom you are looking for, the date or range of dates, location, your unit of 15th MED Bn., names of other people involved, and any other facts that you know about the event, and he will see what he can find for you. Someone asked him recently if there were any POW's or MIA's from 15th MED Bn. during the Viet Nam War. He says he did a Google search and found several Websites with a list of POWs and MIAs, but they do not indicate the units that the POWs and MIAs were in-only branch of service. He also checked with the First Cav Assn., but they do not maintain a list of 1st Cavalry Division POWs or MIAs.

Terry wants to know if anyone knows if there were any POWs or MIAs from 15th MED Bn. The 15th MED Bn. Assn. has no statistics, but is aware that many of our members do not have computers, or access to computers, and therefore do not have ready access to information on Websites, including , or e-mail. If you do not have a friend or relative who can help you look things up on a computer, there are a couple of possible sources of help that you might consider. By law, every county in the U. S. must have a County Veterans Service Office. One of the primary functions of these offices is to help you with applications for benefits from the VA. However, they can also often provide assistance with your computer needs. Look in your local phone book under “County Offices” for a “Veterans Services Office.”

Local public libraries often have computers available for public use and librarians who can look up, or help you look up information on the computer or can help you set up and use e-mail. These are both free services, with the exception of copying costs. So if someone refers you to a Website or wants to communicate with you via e-mail, don't give up. Help is available if you just ask. From Dave Reigle < >, "My father was a Medic with C Co. 15th MED, June '67 to June '68, during Hue etc. He retired 1-'82, went to nursing school, and became chief operating room nurse. He retired from that because around age fifty-five his bones starting breaking. He passed in his sleep Nov 18, 2012, age sixty-seven. Note: he never really wanted to talk about it not even with me. Dave Reigle Dental tech/Corpsman USN 100% SC." Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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