Saber Article Index
Reading my own column in the last Saber I began thinking that Art
first tour dates which were as a MEDEVAC pilot meant that he
could have been in III Corps when the Division and 15th MED moved
south. I had never thought about it. Art emailed and confirmed that he did
fly out of Phouc Vinh, i.e., 1st Cav Division HQ.
When Art first
replied to my recent consolidation of past Saber articles about MEDEVAC
18 crew and extracted casualties shot down and KIA 26 Nov 68, I was
thinking that he was just a MEDEVAC pilot up north who knew the pilots
there. I have learned so much more since communicating with him, as well as
providing information to the Saber readers.
Although not being assigned
to and flying out of any of the 15th MED companies with each of 1st Cav
brigades in III Corps, Art returned a year later to Vietnam and flew as a
Cobra pilot with another unit. His initial interest in what had
transpired in III Corps in November 1968 was for good reason because his
MEDEVAC colleagues who were just as short in country had been suddenly KIA.
When I had written about the 1st Cav Air Ambulance Platoon originally using
the call sign "MERCY" it made me think about that. Granted, if you are a
combat Soldier and suddenly find yourself wounded on the battlefield, one
would probably desire mercy (evolved meaning). The word "mercy" comes from
the Latin "merc or merces; "from Latin, "price paid, wages"; from merc-, merxi
"merchandise." This is where also the word "mercenary," and
a host of other words come from-like merchandise. Just as the word "Soldier" comes from the
"solidus" which was a coin used to pay, or for
"Mercy" with time and use came to mean variations of
the original. The French word "merci" means "thank you." It then evolved
to other "mercy" meanings: benevolence, forgiveness, and kindness in a
variety of ethical, religious, social, and legal contexts.
after the U.S. Army first went to Vietnam the aeromedical evacuation had
been conducted by the 57th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance).
They adopted a call sign with the least combat connotation from those
available for use- "Dust Off."
In 1966 the 44th Medical Brigade was
activated and commanded the Vietnam wide hospitals and their air ambulance
In 1965 the airmobile division deployed to Vietnam and had
its own medical units with aeromedical evacuation. By 1967 the 1st Cav's
Air Ambulance Platoon changed their call sign to what it physically
meant, "medical evacuation," or the shortened Army type acronym MEDEVAC.
The following 15th MED Assn website story was requested for the Saber for
the online impaired readers. It is also a story of motto change: 15th
Medical Battalion Flag Donated by Family of COL Edward G. Bradshaw by
Terry A. McCarl, Historian, 15th Medical Battalion Association. (This was
read by John Tabor at the 15th Medical Battalion Association Reunion in
Kokomo, IN on 12 June 2021.)
"You may have noticed that at this reunion,
we have two 15th Medical Battalion flags on display. The
'brownish-colored'flag (referred to hereafter as the 'old flag') is the
one our Association purchased in 2011. The reddish-colored flag (referred
to hereafter as the 'new flag') was donated to our Association by the
family of the late COL Edward G. Bradshaw who passed away on 14
September 2020 in Boerne, TX (San Antonio area) at the age of 78.
Bradshaw had two assignments with the 1st Cavalry Division; the first
being a Platoon Leader in B Co, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment in
Vietnam in 1965, and the second as the last Commander of the 15th Medical
Battalion when it was deactivated at Fort Hood, TX in 1985. At a final
ceremony in 1985, the 15th Medical Battalion presented the flag to COL
Bradshaw as a keepsake, which he treasured.
"When he passed away, his
family decided that the flag should be returned to a 'military home.'
They contacted a family friend living in San Antonio, MAJ (Ret) James
Ramsey, who had served as a MEDEVAC Flight Medic with 15th Medical
Battalion in Vietnam 1968-1969. He suggested that the flag be offered to
the 15th Medical Battalion Association.
"In January of 2021, one of
our members, COL (Ret, NMNG) James McKay (who also served as a Medevac
Flight Medic 1968-1969), with whom I had been in contact regarding 15th
Medical Battalion history, notified me that his friend, James Ramsey had
been asked by the Bradshaw family to offer the flag to the 15th Medical
Battalion Association. This offer was gratefully accepted, and James
Ramsey sent it to 15th Med Battalion Association President Jim Ferguson.
"Besides the color, the only difference between the two flags is that on
the old flag, the motto on the ribbon in the eagle's beak says, 'Standing
By,' whereas the motto on the new flag is 'Service Above Self.' 'Standing
By' was the original unit motto when the unit was activated in 1926.
In 1976, the unit motto was changed from 'Standing By' to 'Service Above
Self.' The detailed history of both flags is unknown, but the 'Standing By' motto on the old flag suggests that it was made prior to
1976, and the 'Service Above Self' motto on the new flag suggests that it
was made after 1976.
"The fate of the original battalion flag created
when the battalion was activated Page 18 saber NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2021
1 5 t h M E D / 1 5 t h F S B / 1 5 t h B S B Mike Bodnar 13010 N. Lakeforest Dr. Sun City, AZ 85351-3250 (623) 972-4395
MBodnar27@Gmail.Com www.15thMedBnAssociation.org in June of 1926 is
unknown but is believed to have been '
misappropriated' at some point in
"According to the Dustoff Association, who inducted COL Bradshaw
into the Dustoff Hall of Fame in 2009, following his tour as an Infantry
Officer in 1965, he went through helicopter flight training and returned
to Vietnam for a second tour during which he commanded three Dustoff
Units: the 237th, 68th, and 54th Medical Detachments (Helicopter
Ambulance). "He held a total of 11 commands during his nearly 30-year
Army career, the final being the Fort Sam Houston Army Garrison.
"Our Association extends its sincere appreciation to COL Bradshaw's
family for donating this flag, and to MAJ Ramsey, for sending it. Both flags
will be displayed with pride at all future reunions."
Another article on the 15th
MED Assn website is about during their Reunion in Kokomo, IN, which also
has the American Huey Museum. The 15th MED Reunion attendees had the
opportunity to take a ride on a restored Huey. The article says the
opportunity was not just the chance for a seventy-nine-year-old, Larry
Hatch to fly in just any Huey, but the one restored was the one he flew
for his year in Vietnam in the 1st Cav's Air Ambulance Platoon as MERCY 11.
Museum founder John Walker contacted Larry about the restored Huey and
asked him if he wanted to fly it. Since then, Larry has been flying it every
year at the annual Patriot's Weekend at Grissom. This year it was because
the 15th MED Bn Assn had their Reunion in Kokomo.
Larry Hatch is
quoted as saying what really set the 15th Medical Battalion apart was the
98.5% survival rate, they had for all the people they picked up on the
battlefield. He said that is one of the highest of any medical unit that
served in the war.
Not everyone was willing to fly in the Huey which
for at least one, brought back bad memories. MEDEVAC crew chief Corky
Walsh who did fly on the restored Huey credited their success to the fact
that every MEDEVAC helicopter had a tight knit crew who knew how to work
together to complete the mission. He said it had to be that way because
everyone depended on everyone else. He also said that was not what was
thought about, but the main function was to get the aircraft airborne and
get the guys back to the med station to get them treated.
FIRST TEAM! Garryowen
Mike Bodnar 2\7 '69
SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE