Saber Article Index

2004 Mar-Apr

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

I was contacted on the telephone by Frederick F. OSMUN, of Clio, MI, who was in L Company 3-5 Cav. He is looking for a Medic who did some combat work with him in Sept. '50. All knowledgeable please respond. The 1st Cav Assn. has his updated phone number and address; contact them.

A correction to the last column is: Combat Infantrymen's Badge should always be Combat Infantryman Badge.

15th MED Assn. President Murray GIBBS recalls some harrowing moments flying as a MEDEVAC door gunner: "The day before, I believe 22 March, 1968, is when I replaced Henry LAND's door gunner for that one hoist mission. We flew over an NVA camp, from what I could make out, looking straight down. That day I surely thought I was going to die and accepted it. Henry got shot in the hand and we barely missed hitting the tall trees. We made it back at high speed, and just missed the artillery, as we came in for a landing at the 15th MED pad, The main rotor froze on landing.

"Would you believe that I was on my MEDEVAC 447 going back out there again to do a hoist mission? You won't believe this, but the rest of my crew didn't know that where we went back to was where 449 got all shot up. I didn't say a word until we got back. I must have had big ball back then.

"When I told AC BADERSCHNEIDER about it, he ripped me up one side and down the other. If you see the point I am trying to make, you will see I will defend MEDEVAC to the fullest and at that time it would have been with my life. Yes, SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.

"I always felt that when we did a mission it was life or death, so we as members of MEDEVAC and 15th MED Bn. took it very seriously. I don't know if you had heard much talk about the Battle of Hue, Khe Sanh, or Ashau Valley. If we set some standards, as 'Shootdown' would say, we did it not knowingly.

"Each of us can relate to the time period we were there, and I can only relate to when I was there, during July '67 to June '68. There is so much history to tell, so many battles to talk about, and so many brave and daring missions to relate to from when the 15th MED Bn. arrived until it left.

"It is really an untold story that would pop out many eyes. Just the stories that a MEDEVAC Medic could tell would fill a book and more. I think the Medics really took the brunt of MEDEVAC. That is what we were there for, those Medics to do their job once we picked up the wounded. He had the hardest job in my eyes, and for him to trust the crew chief and gunner was of the highest virtues a soldier could have.

"Here is what I sent DUSTOFF'S John TRAVERS: 'Hi John, You have done great work getting the bills into congress. I have read the letter on your presentation to the Senate about the Combat Medical Badge. I feel that we as crew members during Vietnam, or other combat conflicts periods, are deserving of some type of aeromedical evacuation badge. I support the bills and have recommend to my association to do likewise.

'I send out a newsletter about once a month and have mentioned about the Combat Medevac Badge, or HR 2587, and S. 1487. In the last newsletter, and in other updates, I have mentioned about the Combat Medical Badge and Combat Medevac Badge. They will both mean CMB. I flew with MEDEVAC with 15th MED Bn., 1st Air Cav, '67-'68. I know that all other U.S. Army aeromedical evacuation was called DUSTOFF while I was there. We were the only ones called MEDEVAC.

'Those of us who serve Medevac would like very much to see the bill pass. Calling it the Combat Medevac Badge takes away the intent of CMB to Combat Medical Badge, which was established March 1945 and retroactive to Dec 7, 1941. This Combat Medevac Badge would sound EXCLUSIVE to MEDEVAC of the 1st Air Cav. It should have a name that would be INCLUSIVE to all military branches. I recommend it be called the COMBAT AEROMEDICAL BADGE or COMBAT AEROMEDEVAC BADGE. It would have CAB in short and therefore not take away from the meaning of CMB.

'We may find fault with the way awards are presented. The important thing is to recognize those who flew aeromedical evacuation and get a just award for that. I know I feel very slighted in not getting deserving awards. At the last reunion I was asked why I didn't get a D.F.C. for what our MEDEVAC did in the Ashau Valley. I was told I would get several types of awards ranging from the D.F.C. Never saw them. We had a LTC who was very selfish and wanted awards for himself. The letters I have in my possession will attest to that.

'My last mission was a hoist mission somewhere between Khe Sanh and Ashau Valley. We encountered contact with about a company size NVA group. It was on my side of the MEDEVAC.

'We were flying very slow after dropping the ridged litter down thru the trees. When we flew over the ridge there they were. It was like OK Corral. I was manned behind my M-60. Although I did silence many of them, we got the hell shot out of us. I got shot 9 times in the right arm and left leg. My armor stopped more rounds and I just kept shooting until the ammo belt was shot in half. I reloaded quickly but we were out of harms way by then.

'The fuel cell below me was shot out and we were loosing fuel rapidly. The Medic and the pilot on the right side received very minor wounds compared to me. My dedication was so great that I even thought the wounds were minor and I would be back up in the air in a week. My platoon leader, Maj. GOODMAN, said that I was finished, and going back to the states. He told me he was putting me in for a B.S. Well, would you believe I never saw that. I had about 5 weeks to go to finish my tour. This Combat Aeromedical Badge would make up for what I should have gotten.

'I hope I have not unloaded on you but want to let you know we support this badge. Hopeful the members of my association will do what I have asked by contacting their Congressman and Senators. President 15th MED Association, Murray GIBBS, MEDEVAC '67-'68 330-547-2579 SO THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE.'"

A reply from John TRAVERS TRAVERSJT@NETZERO.COM was, "Murray, Thanks for the kind words, this a team effort and we are getting there. We have writers for the Army Times and the DAV magazine now on board as well as some folks working the White House side. Thanks for your support and I will add you to the list that I send updates to. As to the name of the badge, we will work that out once the Army has been forced by congress to develop. Welcome to the fight, we will get this done as it is the right thing to do. JT"

SFC (ret.) Garroll L. AAMODT Sr. GARROLL_AAMODTSR@YAHOO.COM  of Colorado Springs, CO wrote, "Served with C 15th MED Bn. '66-'67. Then again with HHC 2-8 Cav Sep '71-'72, then 345th MED Det. Can To, Vietnam. Love to hear from anyone."

Writer unknown, whose nickname is "motherteacher" EHINES@EARTHLINK.NET sends, "Sp6 Roy HANES RA15225088 was my father, and he served in Vietnam from Sept '65, until Apr '66. He was a Medic with the 15th MED Bn., 1st Cav Division (Airmobile). My father died of prostate cancer in Nov '90.  I would very much like to know more about what he did, where he was, and who he knew while serving in Vietnam." "Hey Mike, This member sent me this e-mail regarding hospital pods. I put an e-mail to the whole membership concerning it. I got a lot of responses. I will send you all the response and maybe you could use it in the Saber down the road. Murray" Those responses are:

"<RA9895A@AOL.COM> Good morning, Just have a question. I was in the air amb. maint. plt. '65/'67 and have a film of a flying crane helicopter with a pod attached. The pod had been made into a surgical portable operating room. Was it ever actually used? You guys are doing a great job. Thanks, Jim"

Charles LOCKIE SPOCK@CY-NET.NET responded, "I was in the 1st Cav in '67 in Vietnam and there were cranes and one had a surgical unit. I walked through one. Don't know if it was used in combat. Chaplain Clarles LOCKIE."

'69 MEDEVAC PSG Gordon RUSSELL GRDNRUSSELL@AOL.COM contributed, "Yes, that pod was used as an aid station, transported by a CH-54 crane. Col. Jueri SVAGENTSIVE, the 15th MED Bn. CO at that time, had it fixed for a flying aid station. When we were on the FTX in SC 1964 this pod was mentioned that it would make a nice aid station, mobile, move, etc. The guy that mentioned that was me. My first sgt. and the bn. commander were looking it over. After we arrived in Vietnam in '65, I  saw the pod with the red cross, painted white inside. How often it was used, I don't know."

Arthur MARTIN AJVALKYRIE@AOL.COM wrote, "Murray: As far as I know, there were three different kinds of pods designed for the CH-54 Flying Cranes: 1) Medical 2) Supplies/cargo (empty) 3) C & C. You may want to go to WWW.VHPA.ORG and get hold of a Crane pilot to get better data.

"To the best of my memory, the 1st Cav did not use them as the Ch-54's rotor wash blew so much dust. But I think they were used in the highlands."

Jim SCHLAAK, XO B Company 15th MED '66-'67 JIMSDOC@AOL.COM sent, "Hi Murray-yes the surgical pod was used until June 6th, 1967, when it was destroyed in a mortar attack, explosion and fire at LZ English, Bong Son, RVN, as part of B Company 15th Med. The pod was air transportable with the flying crane."

Kyle L. WORRELL KYLELWORRELL@AOL.COM remembers, "I believe we used it in A Co (Airborne) in Nov or Dec '65 and flew it from An Khe to Plieku. My memory is vague on the operation we supported, but remember being in it."

MEDEVAC454@AOL.COM said, "Murray, FTI we had surgical pods at LZ English, LZ Baldy; one didn't notice them because they had canvas over the top to keep out the dust and rain. Tail clear left"

ISTEWARD@AOL.COM "We used the surgical pod a number of times on missions to different fronts with A Co. Airborne 15th MED Phu My in '65 and Ia Drang '65, I remember for sure. I believe it was used in Kon Tum as well but not sure."

Kenneth WOLLARD KENWOLLARD2001@YAHOO.COM "Hi, I haven't written to you before. I was in C Co. 15th Med in '67-'68. I saw the pod at 15th MED HQ. The order for the pod came from Col. DAVIS. It was fully equipped when I first saw it. It proved to be impractical for several reasons:

"1. It was so height limited inside that even the short of stature doctors couldn't stand and do surgery in it. 2. It took so long to get a crane scheduled to move it. The Idea was to be able to take it out to a mass casualty situation and have it there for four to six hours and then go home. It just didn't work out to be able to get it out fast enough to do a job. 3. It was so hot inside it, even with the back opened up, you couldn't work for more than about ten minutes at a time and all the treatment team were dripping perspiration on the patient.

"It was an idea that just didn't work out. As I remember, after Col. DAVIS left and the next CO took over (some time in mid '67) all the equipment was taken out and the pod was kept for a while as a storage for non-perishable medical supplies.

"That's about all I remember about it. And I have been known to be wrong. Hope this helps. I was in the como shack as RTO when Mr. JACOBS got shot down and also when a door gunner by the name of Dick was shot in the head. Also, when Mr HUSTON's bird took rounds and lost power about half way back to Evans. He did an auto-rotation, landed safely, and waited to get picked up. All crew and pts. were safe. 'Weird'."

Pilot Henry LAND CAPTHOOK1STCAV@NETSCAPE.NET included, "Murray: One of Col DAVIS' fiascos. It was to have been a forward bn. aid station close to the fighting to shorten evac time to treatment. But, they did not want to take the crane into a hot area and the pod had to be on level ground, so they had to take a hook in with a small dozer to level the ground for the pod. By that time we were already making field pickups and getting them treated before the pod ever got ready. Pod was also to carry a front line ambulance. Like DAVIS, the whole thing was a big cluster 'f'. Henry clear"

Gunner Dave PARKS SHOOTDOWN@YAHOO.COM inquired, "BRAINARD? Anyone remember him? Went back to the world just after the jeep was shot up. (you all remember the guys from 1st Av. don't ya?) Don't remember what he did. Think he was an E-5 though."

Gunner Mike SMITH, "tater1" MVANDCO@MSN.COM , who lives next door, replied, "Dave, We may have BRAINARD in the list but he (if I remember right) changed his last name to honor his step father. I think he was a gunner."

Tom GROVE "PlaneTom1" EPARK8@YAHOO.COM joined, "Hi fellow 15th MED members! I'm very pleased to have found this great organization of many old friends. My e-mail address on the found members list is wrong (obsolete). It should read [as above]. Hope to see many of you in Portland! MEDEVAC 25 (One very lucky pilot)"

Walter J. KLINE RISINGSTOCKS@YAHOO.COM e-mailed, "I just read your column in the Saber. It seems that you are more aviation oriented than medical, but I have some medical input for you.

"I was in the 8th Engineers in the Korean War. I came down with 'epidemic hemorrhagic fever' and was hospitalized for three months.

"Since you are in Arizona, you probably remember that mystery disease that started on the Indian Reservations caused by frat urine. It sounded familiar, and I found out it is the same as my hemorrhagic fever. Then, they put a name to it. It is now called Hantavirus.

"To some, that might sound like an unusual name. However, there was a Hantan River that flowed through our sector and I was submerged in that river more than once on bridge projects. The current disease was named for the river in Korea where it was first found by US forces.

"When I was evacuated, I went through the M.A.S.H., just like the one on TV. In fact, the commander of that unit was the author of the book that kicked it all off. Real number was '8055', not '4077'."

Donald (Sandy) MACDONALD "mac22769" <MAC22769@HOTMAIL.COM> questioned, "I am trying to find documentation of my flight time. I was in country Nov '68 and evaced to Camp Drake, Japan, Mar 11, '69. I have contacted the archives but they said that all the log books were taken by the AC's when they left country, at least that is the story. If any one knows a way to track any of the logs please let me know. thanks"

"GunnerGibbs" GUNNERMADMUR@AOL.COM replied, "Hey Mac22769, These are the Web sites to use to contact your US Congressman and US Senator. US Congressman - <HTTP: wrep_findrep htbin> US Senator - <HTTP: general/contact_information/senators_cf m.cfm>

Henry LAND, <CAPTHOOK1STCAV@NETSCAPE.NET>says, "From 23 Feb '04 thru at least 18 Mar '04. I'll be having a redo up hip replacement surgery at the VA hospital in Gainesville, FL on the 25th of Feb. After about 5 days they will send me to a nursing home for rehab, but I don't know where. Please hold e-mails 'til after 18 Mar, then hopefully I'll be back on line."

'69 MEDEVAC PSG Gordon RUSSELL tried to point out to me at the last Presidential State of the Union Address on TV, one of his door gunners, William H. "Bill" PICKLE who is now Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper in the U.S. Senate <HTTP: sergeant_at_arms.htm>. Bill was one of MEDEVAC's 11 Bravo door gunners with a CIB. I'll try to find his field unit.

Perry M. LUSBY <POML@SBCGLOBAL.NET>wrote, "Hi Mike; Just a question or two. I was in the lst MED Sqdn. from Jan '41 till fall of '42. Did the sqdn. eventually evolve into the 15th MED Bn. or what? Did you ever hear of, or know Capt. Madison A. FURRH, who was cmdr of Hq Troop during that time?

"I have attended a few of the 1st Div reunions but no one ever shows up from the lst MED Sqdn. so I just quit going. Would appreciate any info you might have for that time period. Thanks"

The 1st Cav Assn. has no record of Cpt. FURRH. Anyone else know him? This battalion's history is as follows: Constituted on March 23rd, 1925, as the 1st Medical Squadron, the battalion was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division and has supported it ever since. The distinctive insignia, coat-of- arms, with the colors of the cavalry guidon, and blue bonnet, which is the TX state flower for where the inception was, at Ft. Bliss, and motto "Standing By" were adopted in July of 1928. On March 25th, 1949, the unit was redesigned as the 15th Medical Battalion. With the reorganization of the Army's logistic support structure, the battalion was redesigned as the 15th Forward Support Battalion on May 1st, 1987, to incorporate the new support doctrine of "Fuel, Arm and Fix Forward," with its official Home page: <HTTP: 1CD_15thFSB />

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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