United States
South Vietnam

I was picked up at the air field and driven to a unit which later I found out was the Phouc Tuy Training Battalion, a part of USARV ITG and later redesignated as FANK TC.  Four countries, represented by the flags above, comprised FANK at Phouc Tuy.  There I was issued new camouflage uniforms, rucksack, and M16.  I looked like I just got in country with that unfaded uniform.  I was shown where I bunked and then taken to the hospital to meet my Sergeant and the Unit Doctor.

After formal introductions, we sat and the sergeant explained the mission of this unit.  The Mission was to train RVN and Cambodian soldiers in basic warfare.  14 weeks of training inside the camp and 1 week in the field actually being soldiers and engaging the enemy.  My job included heading a group of national workers taking care of the camps preventive medicine functions.  I had 15 men that reported to me though the senior member of the group, Mr. Nguyen.  This old man, would later save my life.

We had an open Dispensory and Hospital which took care of all camp personel and the village locals.  I would even go to there homes and teach them what preventive medicine was and it's importance in preventing disease.  If needed, we even provided the chemicals to rid them of parasites.  This I knew.  This I was good at, but little did I know what was expected of me and what I would be called to do.  Sure I was a medic, but my specialty was preventive medicine, and I had no experience in an operating room.

We had a wonderful doctor and he believed in teaching others.  At first, I would just watch, then he began explaining what it meant to assist during an operation, and finally I was told to scub up and assist him, all the time he continued to explain and teach.

I can still remember the first time being called "Doc" or "Bac Si" in Vietnamese and how I felt.  I was no doctor, never was and never pretented to be, but to some of the people I helped I was the closest thing they would ever see to a real doctor.  It took awhile to accept this nickname, but as time went on, I was honored to be called "Doc" and would proudly answer when some in need called for "Doc" or "Bac Si".

I invite you to visit the medical pages on this site.  They are seperated from this page because they contain graphic pictures which may not be suitable for younger visitors.  More information on our hospital and staff can also be found there.

The Story of Mr. Nguyen

Every day a 0600 Mr. Nguyen would gather his men in military formation and await for my arrival.  He would salute me and wait for instructions of the day.  He would then hand out assignments to his men.  I mentioned earlier that he saved my life, this is how.  One of my responsibilities was to inspect the land fill.  This was important because the land fill not only contained garbage but also medical waste.  I would inspect the fill every Tuesday. On this one particular Tuesday he told me not to go.  I said I had to, but he persisted and I finally agreed saying I would do it tomorrow. About the time that I would have been at the land fill, mortar attack destroyed it.  If I was there, I wouldn't be here.  The VC liked to play mind games, and one of those games was to kill one person at a time.  I questioned Mr. Nguyen and he just told me that he over heard about it in a road-side cafe' that he stopped at for breakfast that day.  I told command about the incident, and they sent some men to the cafe' to question Mr. Nquyen.  His story held up and nothing came from it.

Not an easy story to tell, and graphical in description....

The Mountains

Our base camp was surrounded on 3 sides with mountains and the other side by the town.  Around the camp was a 6 foot dirt wall which was manned by RVN and Cambodian soldiers.  We would get shelled every night or at least every other night and the target were the men on the wall.  One day, however, we were being shelled during the day.  Most of the activity was coming from the South mountains. Groups of us were sent out to the mountains to our look out posts.  At one post we found the 2 RVN soldiers dead.  Dead is dead but the way they were killed was enough to make the strongest sick.  They were killed in some kind of execution style.  The bullet entered under the chin and exited through the skull causing all the facial bones to be shattered.  Their faces were FLAT.  Looking at their faces took every ounce of strength not to loose your cookies.  Around the time we put them in body bags, my friend Paul spotted a VC patrol coming up the road.  He radio the command center and informed them of the situation.  Trying to get a better look, he started down the mountains.  When he got to the bottom he was spotted and in the middle of a cross fire.

He was killed June 14,1972.

This is not a very good picture, but it shows the sadness of war.  Pictured is a new Cambodian Soldier getting his shots.  He's here to be trained in basic warfare and become a soldier.  He's just A Kid!