Southern Cross information
for 312 EVAC HOSP

For date 681124


312 EVAC HOSP was a US Army unit
Primary service involved, US Army
Quang Tin Province, I Corps, South Vietnam
Location, Chu Lai
Description: The following is an edited version of an article titled "312th Skill In Reserve(s) To Vietnam." CHU LAI - A plumbing salesman carries a wounded Vietnamese boy from a roaring "dustoff" chopper; an installment loan manager records data from sensitive laboratory equipment; a tobacco buyer prepares a soldier for surgery - just daily routine for the recently activated 312th Evacuation Hospital now providing expert medical care for all of I Corps. Only months ago the men and women of a medical reserve unit in Winston-Salem, N.C., were attending weekend meetings and then returning to their jobs and families through the state. Then on May 13, the 312th Evac. Hosp. was called to active duty and subsequently moved to Ft. Benning, Ga., where it underwent training prior to overseas movement. "The activation affected former accountants, trust officers, building contractors, teachers, doctors, nurses and members of various skilled trades. However, our transition from civilian to military life was very smooth," said LTC Eston R. Caldwell, unit commander and former physician from Statesville, N.C. At Ft. Benning regular Army NCOs with years of experience in the medical corps were added to the unit, bringing its strength to more than 200 men and women. "By mid-September the unit had jelled into an efficient and unified evacuation hospital capable of providing medical care for 400 patients," remarked chief ward master, SFC Lawrence W. Blane (Norwalk, Conn.). Starting on Sept. 21, three huge jets were required to airlift the unit to Chu Lai. Temporarily, they lived in vacant patient wards until members of the unit they replaced, the 2nd Surgical Hospital, were prepared to move. "I guess everyone was a little skeptical about their ability at first. When a patient needs your help you don't stop to think about it," mused senior ward specialist SP5 William B. Crain, a tobacco buyer from Versailles, Ky. The 312th officially took over from the 2nd Surg. Hosp. on Oct. 1, and by the end of the month it had become a fully operational evacuation hospital capable of diversified medical treatment. During the first month of operation 902 American and Vietnamese patients were admitted and more than 600 major and minor surgical procedures were performed. With 40 college graduates and the overall education level very high, the members of the 312th "felt obligated to prove that a reserve unit was just as good as an "RA" one. I have worked with both. The 312th is doing an outstanding job," said CPT Barbara A. Hafner (Cincinnati, Ohio), a nurse previously with the 2nd Surg. Hosp. To supplement the specialized staff of the 312th, five medical teams--the 48th, 305th, 378th, 889th and 915th Med. Det. - were added to the growing hospital. Now at home in its modern facilities overlooking the South China Sea, the 312th Evac. Hosp. has settled down to the task at hand. That plumbing salesman, loan manager and tobacco buyer go about their work with a professional confidence and skill that makes them look like old veterans. Photo Captions 1, 2, 3) Notified by telephone only moments before, two medical corpsmen (above) wait for a 'dustoff' Huey to land on the hospital's helipad. Followed by his brother (right), an injured Vietnamese boy is rushed to the emergency room by former salesman PFC Robert F. Howard. A careful examination (far right by 312th doctors reveals the need for delicate eye surgery. A MEDEVAC is called. 4) X-ray is adjusted by former supervisor SP4 Charles F. Spry 5) Industrial engineer SP4 Michael Shore measures elixir. 6) Data charts are reviewed by CPT Michael E. Carey while ward specialists attend patients. 7) Skilled surgeons complete operation on Americal soldier.

The source for this information was 6811_112_scr supplied by Les Hines 01/05/2000


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Date posted on this site: 05/16/2021