Showing posts with label Navy medicine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Navy medicine. Show all posts

Friday, October 25, 2013

New book: THE LUCKY FEW: The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of the USS Kirk

Bookcover.jpgTHE LUCKY FEW
The Fall of Saigon and the Rescue Mission of the USS Kirk
by Jan K. Herman

Published by Naval Institute Press

Binding: Hardcover & eBook Available at Publication Date
Number of Pages: 192
Subject: Vietnam War
Date Available: November 15, 2013


As the Vietnam War reached its tragic climax in the last days of April 1975, a task force of U.S. Navy ships cruised off South Vietnam’s coast. Their mission was to support the evacuation of American embassy personnel and military advisers. But the task force was also assigned to secure the safety of South Vietnamese who had “sensitive” military information in their possession and whose lives would be in danger once the North Vietnamese consolidated their inevitable victory.

The magnitude of a nation’s final collapse had suddenly become tangible. For days prior to the fall of Saigon, the by-products of the North Vietnamese army’s relentless conquest included thousands of panicked refugees trying to flee the country in anything that would float or fly.

“It was Dunkirk in reverse,” observed Paul Jacobs, commanding officer of USS Kirk during Frequent Wind, the operation that turned the destroyer escort into a haven for refugees escaping South Vietnam. Kirk’s officers and enlisted personnel—trained as warriors—instantly transformed their man-of-war into a humanitarian assistance ship. Desperation and suffering gave way to reassurance as crew members fed their unexpected and anguished guests, dispensed medical care, diapered infants, and provided hope to a dispirited people.

The Lucky Few focuses on one small U.S. Navy warship from that task force. Kirk took part in the rescue of not only the remnants of the South Vietnamese fleet, but also dealt with 32,000 refugees on board those ships. Although the Vietnam War ended in chaos and shame, the epic story of USS Kirk and her success in rendering humanitarian assistance under inconceivable circumstances reflects one of America’s few shining moments during this military withdrawal. Almost forty years later The Lucky Few brings to light this relatively unknown heroic tale in the South China Sea of a people caught up in the death throes of a nation and their subsequent passage to freedom.

~ Advance Praise for The Lucky Few

“Operation Frequent Wind and the last days of the Vietnam War have remained largely absent from the public eye—until now. What an irony that such a catastrophic war comes to a close with one of the U.S. military’s greatest humanitarian efforts of the twentieth century. Jan Herman has conducted tremendous research in The Lucky Few to illustrate the immense courage displayed by the men of the USS Kirk (FF-1087), which led to the successful rescue of over 32,000 South Vietnamese. Congratulations to the men of the USS Kirk and to all of CTF 76-1.”

—The Honorable Richard L. Armitage, 13th U.S. Deputy Secretary of State

“Jan Herman’s thoroughly researched and beautifully written account of the USS Kirk and her crew’s participation in the final days of the Vietnam War, the fall of Saigon, and the evacuation at sea of thousands of Vietnamese refugees underscores both the tragedy and the triumph of war. This book illustrates the dual purpose of our Navy—a weapon of war and also an instrument to provide humanitarian assistance and care anywhere and anytime. This story, lost until this writing, needs to be read by every American sailor and citizen. They will see first hand our Navy in action. They will also see the courage, compassion, and the stellar leadership of Captain Jacobs and his brilliant USS Kirk crew.”

—Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr., MC, USN (Ret.), 36th Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy

“Jan Herman’s extensively researched and meticulously detailed account of the USS Kirk during the final weeks of the Vietnam War is a riveting portrait of heroic men in unheroic circumstances; it provides a fresh and essential perspective on this troubled chapter in American history.”

—Rory Kennedy, filmmaker

The Author

Jan K. Herman served as the historian of the Navy Medical Department and as special assistant to the Surgeon General for thirty-three years. He also produced an hour-long documentary, The Lucky Few, which has gained international acclaim since its premiere at the Smithsonian in 2010.

He is the author of Battle Station Sick Bay, Frozen in Memory, Navy Medicine in Vietnam, Murray’s Ark and Other Stories, and lives in Takoma Park, MD.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Three rare photographs of the US Navy Museum of Hygiene

All three images are bound in a copy of "Catalogue of The Exhibits in the Museum of Hygiene. Medical Department of the United States Navy." Compiled by Philip S. Wales, Medical Director, U.S.N. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1893 now held in BUMED's Office of Medical History.

13-0103-003 The Museum. Present Home. 1707 New York Avenue, N.W. 1887-1893.
13-0103-002 The Museum. 2nd Home. S.E. Corner 18th & G Sts, NW. 1882-1887. 13-0103-002 13-0103-001 The Museum. Birth-place. 18th + K Sts, N.W. 1879-1882. 13-0103-001

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jan Herman on History of Naval Medicine in World War 2

Navy Medicine in the Last Campaigns: Iwo Jima and Okinawa


The presenter is Jan Herman, M.A.

Historian of the Naval Medical Department

Special Assistant to the Navy Surgeon General



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Navy nurse who was at Pearl Harbor dies

Capt. Ruth A. Erickson, 95; Leader of Navy Nurse Corps
By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008; Page B04

This one's posted for my colleagues Jan and Andre, the historians at the Navy's Bureau of Medicine & Surgery. They've interviewed lots of people involved in the Navy's brand of military medicine and I'll bet they talked to Capt Erikson. They also put out Navy Medicine, a monthly journal as well as DVD histories. We're going to work with them this year to get their photo collection scanned with an electronic catalogue.

Monday, August 25, 2008

A new (tiny) collection in the archives

We recently acquired the Welling Collection – a set of photographs and a PowerPoint presentation – from Col. David Welling, M.D. (retired). Dr. Welling was part of the Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) that was deployed to Yemen to treat and evacuate US sailors injured in the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole. The team was awarded the McKay Trophy, an annual award that the National Aeronautic Association gives to the Air Force person, crew, or organization that makes the most meritorious flight of the year. Dr. Welling said, “The mission was the highlight of my 30-year career.”

The photo above is from Dr. Welling. It shows patients and medical staff inside one of the planes that evacuated the wounded from Yemen to Germany.

Now, a behind-the-scenes peek at the decision about how to handle this collection. We could fold it into the MIS (Medical Illustration Service) collection or make it a collection all its own. The MIS collection is a kind of generic bunch of stuff (which is not to say there’s nothing interesting there – there is plenty interesting) but it’s also 4000 boxes. Bankers’ boxes. It would be easy to “lose” something in there. Plus, the Welling collection was born digital. The only hard copy of anything we had was the disc he sent to us and the emails about it that we printed out.

The other way to treat it – as a collection of its own – would be a consideration even though it’s a one-folder collection. Kind of small for a whole collection, but that’s how we decided to treat it. This is important to us because we have very little contemporary material and we really want to be able to put our hands on it when we need it. By making it a collection we automatically make it a line item on our shelf list (the inventory of our collections) and so it remains higher in visibility of the materials we maintain. We copied the disc Dr. Welling sent us onto a gold archival disc and printed out the photos and the PowerPoint, and all of it will go into a box that holds other small collections right here in the archives.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Surgeon General's Lecture Series at 1100 on 8 August 2008 in Memorial Auditorium, NNMC, Bethesda, MD

My buddy Andre sent this announcement about a lecture. I imagine you cant contact him if you need any additional information:

This is just a reminder that the Surgeon General's Speaker Series is set to continue on 8 August 2008 at 11:00 AM in Memorial Auditorium at the National Naval Medical Center, in Bethesda, MD. The lecture, "Jonathan Messersmith Foltz: Colorful Naval Surgeon and Friend and Foe of President James Buchanan," will be delivered by Ludwig Deppisch, MD, author of the recently acclaimed book, The White House Physician: A History from Washington to George W. Bush. This lecture will be open to all who wish to attend. As a note, this talk will hold special appeal to anyone interested in mid-nineteenth century American political and naval history. The subject of the lecture is a notable Victorian-era Navy surgeon who was linked to many famous literary, political, and scientific figures of his day including President James Buchanan, Admiral David Farragut, Samuel Morse, Edgar Allan Poe, and Queen Victoria. Dr. Foltz served as the first military White House physician, a Fleet Surgeon with Admiral David Farragut at the Battle of Mobile Bay, and in 1871 he was appointed as the Surgeon General of the Navy (becoming only the second person to hold that post).

André B. Sobocinski
Deputy Historian/ Publications Manager
Office of the Historian
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED)
Tel: (202) 762-3244
Fax: (202) 762-3380

Thursday, May 15, 2008

New Grog Ration from Navy's medical historian

André B. Sobocinski, the Deputy Historian/ Publications Manager of the Office of the Historian of the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) has a new issue of The Grog Ration newsletter about medical naval history out now.

The table of contents:

Page 1: Care Amidst the Shortage: The Relationship between the American Red Cross and the Navy Nurse Corps in World War I by Jennifer Telford, RN, PhD
When the United States declared war on 6 April 1917, the nation had but a nucleus of an army and a navy. The swift growth of the number of troops within a year from 100,000 to 4 million men presented a problem of enormous magnitude to the nursing profession; it was a shortage of epic proportions. The Army Nurse Corps had a mere 400 nurses on active duty, while the Navy had 160. The need for a rapid expansion of nursing in wartime to provide care both on the home-front and overseas brought about a controversy over who, in fact, was qualified to serve. The role of Katrina Hertzer, the liaison officer between the Red Cross Nursing Service and the Navy Nurse Corps, and who aided in the enrollment of nurses into the Corps, is of particular interest.
Nursing leaders during World War I debated about whether or not minimally trained nurses' aides should be recruited to help offset the professional nursing shortage. The result was the formation of an Army School of Nursing and the enrollment of volunteer nurses' aides into the Red Cross. The recruitment of nurses' aides to offset the nursing shortage of the World War I era was a logical solution to meeting the needs for nursing personnel. Whether or not this action compromised the status of nursing as a profession is still a matter of interest.
This article is adapted from lectures given at the Society for the History of Navy Medicine (SHNM) session in Rochester, NY, and as part of the Surgeon General's Speaker Series (SGSS) in Bethesda, MD, in April 2008. A PowerPoint of her SHNM lecture can be found at A video of her SGSS lecture can be accessed at

Page 7: Elvis Has Boarded the Ship
In 1958, LTJG Julia Pickering was one of two Navy nurses serving aboard the troop transport USS General Randall (AP-115) in port at Brooklyn, NY. Also on board this ship was a newly enlisted Army sergeant who had already established his name as an American pop icon. In a 2004 interview with the Office of the Historian, Pickering remembered this special passenger.

Page 8: The Surgeon's Log: Navy Medicine in Washington, DC
In 1908 a young hospital apprentice named Albert B. Montgomery reported for duty at the Naval Hospital, Washington, DC, then located on old "Observatory Hill" in Foggy Bottom. Years later he looked back upon his experiences-from racing horse-driven ambulances on cobblestone streets to obtaining study specimens at the city morgue for Naval Medical School students.

Page 11: Scuttlebutt
Find out about the upcoming Navy medical events (e.g., film premieres and lectures).

Page 12: Navy Medical Quiz
Good luck on this issue's quiz. As always, the first person to submit correct answers to all questions will receive a special prize. The answers from our previous quiz can be found on page 13.