Saber Article Index

2015 Jul-Aug

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

On June 2, 2015 1970-'71 MEDEVAC PSG James McDonald had a stroke due to a blood clot. He had emergency surgery and now is at a nursing home rehabilitating close to his home.

Past President 2003-2006 15th MED Association Murray Gibbs MEDEVAC '67-'68 notified us by e-mail and says, "I spoke with him today and he is slowly recovering. You can send e-mail to him at the address below: ."

Coincidentally, just as I was ready to submit this, the PBS News Hour had an article I watched from last night-June 30, 2015, about strokes. Watch it at: or just look it up online for that date. Finally, something useful on TV.

In short, "Brain stent offers new treatment option for stroke victims." In the United States, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death. Most strokes are caused by a blood clot in the brain, which can be treated with a time-sensitive medicine, but few get to the hospital in time. Now, the American Heart Association is recommending a special stent to remove clots. Judy Woodruff talks to Dr. William J. Powers of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Terry McCarl writes, "Mike: I attended the 15th MED Association Reunion in Boise, ID, April 15-19, 2015. It was the first 15th MED Reunion that I attended, but I hope to make it to many more!

"I arrived on the afternoon of the 16th and departed on the morning of the 19th, so I missed the first and last days. I therefore missed the tour of Gowen Field Army National Guard Base, a couple of evening dinners, the BBQ at the Smith's, and a few other activities. I am told that it was a shame to have missed any of those activities. However, the time that I was there was very enjoyable, filled with good conversation and memories of my 15th MED days.

"The Oxford Suites in Boise, where the reunion was held, is a very beautiful and luxurious facility, yet very economical. Customer service was Priority 1!

"There were thirty veterans who attended the Reunion. I got to personally meet all but one who had to leave early for another Reunion. There was no one there that I knew or remembered during my RVN tour (11/68-11/69), but roughly half of them had tours that overlapped with my tour to some extent. Of those, roughly 75 percent knew someone whom I knew during that time, so I had a great time reminiscing about people, places, and events. Attached is a group photo. "A high point of the Reunion for me was getting to meet Ella Turner (Mrs. Guthrie L. Turner), BG Turner's wife of 57 years. She was awarded Honorary Membership in the 15th MED Association at the Reunion. Attached is a photo of Mrs. Turner with Mike 'Smitty' Smith, 2015 Reunion Coordinator, and 2015-2016 President of the 15th MED Association. Mike is in his '1960's Hippie attire,' since the theme of the banquet was the 'Turbulent 1960's.' "Another high point was the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Ceremony, at which all Reunion attendees received a beautiful commemorative medallion. This was a big surprise! I understand that Velma Smith set this all up. A special thanks to her!

"One dark cloud over the Reunion was the passing of Jerry Dick on April 8, who had planned to attend the Reunion. Jerry was a door gunner on MEDEVAC, who was badly wounded on July 28, 1968. A BBQ was held to honor his service at the 2012 Reunion. I never got to meet Jerry, but I could tell that the support and friendship of his fellow 15th MED veterans was of major importance to him, as was his friendship to them. Tributes to Jerry throughout the reunion were very moving.

"Of the Reunion attendees, twenty-five were MEDEVAC and five (including me) were other than MEDEVAC. I believe that a common misconception by 15th MED veterans that were other than MEDEVAC, is that the Reunions, and even Association membership, are strictly for MEDEVAC personnel. Leo Williams, 2014-15 President of the Association, emphasized at both the Banquet and the Business Meeting that the Association is 'The 15th MED Association' that includes all 15th MED Veterans, regardless of their assignment.

"Mark your 2016 calendars! Larry Hatch, 2016 Reunion Coordinator, provided the following information on next year's reunion: 'The dates for the Olympia, WA Reunion at the Red Lion are April 11 - 18, 2016. It's going to be a country western theme being this is the Pacific Northwest and our dinner banquet is going to feature a catered pulled pork shoulder and slow cooked chicken BBQ with all the trimmings, the 'Oly Mountain Boys' bluegrass band in performance and locally brewed beer kegs. Tours are set at the Olympic Flight Museum and NW Helicopters at the Olympia Airport, Museum of Flight at Boeing Field just south of Seattle and the LeMay Family Auto Collection at Marymount, WA featuring over 2,5000 cars, trucks, and other vehicles.

"'A fine dining restaurant is scheduled for each evening. If members have not experienced the Pacific Northwest, this is their opportunity to see large rivers and lakes, the Pacific Ocean, old growth timer forests, and 14,000 ft. snow capped Mt. Rainier. Plus, there are casinos to gamble at if they so wish.'

"Sounds like a fantastic Reunion! Give some consideration to attending. You will enjoy it!"

MEDEVAC crewchief Randy Brewer sent out a YouTube video link of a Huey flight for fun and says, "Thanks Col. Bill. This video is from Col. Bill Downey, 15th MED Bn. XO 1966. Turn up volume. WOW! Great to hear the turbine winding up again. Randy"

From Ken Weitzel, LTC Army (Ret), , "Hi, I was an assault helicopter pilot assigned to C 229th with further assignment as S-3 Air 2-7th Cav. I served on the ground during the Ia Drang mess to include LZ Albany.

"Capt. Shucart {Captain William Shucart marched in the column toward LZ Albany.} was the most courageous medical officer I ever encountered. He was more an infantry officer in mentality then he was a doctor (and he was a damn fine doctor). At the conclusion of his tour he extended in country for an additional three months.

"During the extension he was severely injured in a Chinook accident and he spent over six months in a hospital in Japan recovering. His actions in the Albany ambush were tantamount to those expected of a CMOH recipient.

"His comments condemning MEDEVAC in the First Cav in 1965-'66 were common in the division well beyond those he stated. Shucart was not one to bitch but not act. He communicated within his medical chain and his feelings were well known.

"In defense of MEDEVAC in that first six months or so that we were in country, the battle of Ia Drang was one of several high intensity battles in a short period of time. Casualties were high!

"Organizationally, one assault helicopter company habitually supported a designated maneuver battalion. We flew the assaults and did the resupply into field locations. We had personal relationships from several years during the 11th Air Assault Division tests.

"When someone was injured where we had been in that LZ, we knew the combat issues, the terrain, and other dynamics. MEDEVAC was back at base or with the division forward on a larger operation. Their response time and lack of familiarity with the situation made them second choice.

"As slick pilots we were not in competition with MEDEVAC. But, we were perceived by the commanders on the ground to be the best choice for fast evacuation of their wounded. We had a reputation for doing whatever it took to get someone to a medical facility.

"Conversely, MEDEVAC would arrive on site, unfamiliar with the situation. And, would appear to be a poor second to the slick pilot who just left their LZ; just having to do a 180 and return for the injured. "I don't know if the Cav situation ever got corrected or not. When you have hundreds of choppers in one division there is always the potential duplication of effort. Of course, we did not have the training and life saving capability of the MEDEVAC and in that regard we were the wrong choice.

"I just wanted to share my thoughts. I do want to impress you that Shucart was very correct in his opinion of the time."

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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