Showing posts with label Vietnam War. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vietnam War. 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.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Today's new collection

Material is flowing into the Museum as the AFIP and Walter Reed both prepare to close. Today we collected 54 boxes, or 184 bound volumes of Walter Reed General Hospital Autopsies (2011.0005, OHA 354.7) which date from 1917 through 1965. That presumably covers 4 wars – World War 1, World War 2, Korea and Vietnam.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Diabetes and hearing loss

As part of my once-in-a-while campaign to spread the word about the long-term effects of Agent Orange, let me pass along to you a report from the NIH about the connection between diabetes and hearing loss.

"The link between diabetes and hearing loss was evident across all frequencies, with a stronger association in the high frequency range. Mild or greater hearing impairment of low- or mid-frequency sounds in the worse ear was about 21 percent in 399 adults with diabetes compared to about 9 percent in 4,741 adults without diabetes. For high frequency sounds, mild or greater hearing impairment in the worse ear was 54 percent in those with diabetes compared to 32 percent in those who did not have the disease."

How does Agent Orange fit in? As I noted in a prior post, the Veterans' Administration has stipulated that Agent Orange causes diabetes. So, once again, all of you Vietnam vets out there - if you have health problems, contact the VA.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Military medicine training article

Speaking of moulages and training, here's an article that talks about their current use. "Trial by (Simulated) Fire: Military Doctors Learn to Practice Wartime Medicine on Mock Battlefield," By Philip Rucker, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, August 8, 2008; B01. I met the doctor who's quoted at the end, Capt. Trueman Sharp, last year when the museum got a collection of Vietnam-era medical data from his department for scanning - the Wound Data Munitions Effectiveness Team (WDMET) records include wounding information, x-rays, 35mm slides and sometimes fragments. We've got the material being scanned now, but it's going to take a while to finish.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Agent Orange's lasting effects

I'm going to get on my soapbox for a minute and if I've written about this before, just skip this post.

About three years ago my husband went for a routine physical and got the bad, terrifying news that he was diabetic. Even though I have a sister who's diabetic and I thought I knew all there was to know, it turned out neither Bob nor I knew much of anything. He had no family history whatsoever. Overnight, it seemed, he lost quite a bit of weight because he was afraid to eat anything. The doctor told him no bread, potatoes, rice, or pasta and he gave it all up cold turkey. He manages pretty well now, thanks, but has a pretty good idea of what awaits him down the line.

Now here's the kicker. About a year after he was diagnosed, his brother was trolling the VA website and found information relating diabetes to Agent Orange. The bottom line is, if a soldier set foot in Vietnam and now has diabetes, the VA makes the presumption that Agent Orange is the cause. You don't have to prove anything other than show your DD214. Sure, they make you jump through hoops but if you have it, pass Go and collect your claim. And it's not just diabetes. If you know a Vietnam vet who's having health problems, please direct him or her to the VA website.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Vietnam Center and Archive Blog

The following post came through an archives listserve today. I took a quick look - it seems like a good resource. In the museum, we actually have a massive amount of Vietnam War medical records, but most are not yet processed. We've got hundreds of hours of video footage from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research's film team for example, but no inventory of it. The Wound Data Munition Effectiveness Study (WDMET) was recently transferred back to us from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and we're in the process of digitizing over the 10,000 records of wounds suffered, usually by American soldiers, during the war.

The Vietnam Center and Archive Blog

The Vietnam Center and Archive is proud to announce the launch of our new blog located at This blog will be used for a variety of topics and will be updated often by members of the Vietnam Center and Archive staff.

Blog topics will include: Vietnam Center and Archive news and updates, information about the Oral History Program, updates concerning the Virtual Vietnam Archive and the physical archive, interesting items from our holdings, website updates, and reference resources and outreach. We hope this new blog will both be a way to keep people informed about the progress of the Vietnam Center and Archive, as well as provide a valuable research tool. Several articles have already been posted, so
please visit our blog and leave us your comments.

A link to our blog is also located in the top right corner of our website [].

Mary McLain Saffell, C.A.
Associate Director, Archivist

The Vietnam Center and Archive
Texas Tech University
Special Collections Library, Room 108
Lubbock, Texas 79409-1041