Saber Article Index


Reading my own column in the last Saber I began thinking that Art Jacobs'
 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 monetary exchange.

"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.

By 1963 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 units-DUSTOFF.

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.)

Ed Bradshaw"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.

"COL 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.

Old Flag"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.

New Flag"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 in June of 1926 is unknown but is believed to have been '
misappropriated' at some point in time.

"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
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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