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Page 115(Epilogue )previous pagenext page


Epilogue

The Vietnam War had its precedents in American military history. At the turn of this century the U.S. Army in the Philippines, only a few years after the end of its trials during the Indian Wars of the American frontier, again fought an enemy that often used guerrilla tactics. In 1898 many American soldiers serving in Cuba suffered the torments of tropical disease. World War II in the Pacific, although conventional in nature, once more subjected American soldiers to the hardships of warfare in the tropics. But advances in weapons and military transport made the Vietnam War a virtually new experience for the American armed forces.

This was especially true for the Army Medical Department. Its experiences with patient evacuation in the Korean War had only foreshadowed the problems it would confront in South Vietnam. Helicopter ambulances in Korea had rarely needed to fly over enemy-held areas, and the terrain of Korea, although rugged, lacked the thick jungles and forests that obstructed the air ambulances in Vietnam. While Army hospitals in Korea had been highly mobile, moving often with the troops, the frontless war in Vietnam resulted in a fixed location for almost all hospitals. French armed forces had used the helicopter for medical evacuation in their unsuccessful struggle in Indochina, but since they had used aircraft that were soon obsolete, their experiences could offer little guidance to the Americans who arrived in Vietnam in 1962.

Statistics

Records produced by the various U.S. Army air ambulance units in Vietnam show that the Medical Department's new aeromedical evacuation system performed beyond all expectation. Although figures are lacking for some phases of the system's work, enough reports have survived to permit an assessment of what it accomplished. It is, possible both to describe the number and types of patients transported and to compare the risks of air ambulance missions with those of other helicopter missions in the Vietnam War.

Air ambulances transported most of the Army's sick, injured, and wounded who required rapid movement to a medical facility, and also many Vietnamese civilian and military casualties. From May 1962 through March 1973 the ambulances moved between 850,000 and



Page 115(Epilogue )previous pagenext page



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THESE ARE ARCHIVED PAGES OF THE OLD EHISTORY SITE
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