“I always say memories of Vietnam are some of the happiest times of my life and some of the saddest.
We arrived in Quin Nhon ... and I really had no idea how it was going to be ... we disembarked fine – it wasn’t like the Marines hitting the beach. We first started our hospital in a valley about 20 miles from Quin Nhon, and it was quite difficult. We didn’t have running water, and we were just in tents. We also found out later we were surrounded by Viet Cong, and they were taking potshots at our evac helicopters as they landed.
We had casualties almost immediately, and it was very difficult to see our young men so shot up and in such agony.
One case I remember in particular was a warrant officer, who had been up in a helicopter. They landed in Quin Nhon, and he got out of the helicopter, and a missile on the chopper misfired and almost decapitated him. It just so happened that there were some medics there on the site, and they started IVs and did all the appropriate things and got him to the hospital. We spent hours re-attaching his head, his nerves, his muscles and all. Didn’t know how much he would have left. But one morning, I was making rounds, and I knelt down to read a letter to him from home that had finally caught up with him. As I read, the tears were coming down his face, and we knew then he was understanding what was going on. He later was air-evacked to Walter Reed (Army Medical Center) and made a recovery. That stands out.
When I look back at the fall of Saigon, about 10 years after I got home, it was very hard to see because America had never lost a war and left in defeat, so to speak. And that was a whole new experience, and it made one wonder ‘Why?’ ‘Was this all in vain?’
I was very idealistic in those years, and pretty stupid, I think, looking back. But I truly believed in our country and our mission, and I know, as an individual, I’m proud of my service and that of the men and women I served with.”