While out running yesterday afternoon, I chanced to hear the first hour of Bob Edwards Weekend, which featured stories from the fortieth reunion of the Navy’s Third Medical Battalion in Vietnam. What great luck–two of my personal and professional interests (war and medicine) in a modern history context. These guys lived a kind of daily horror that was played for laughs by M.A.S.H. This audio documentary is definitely not the sitcom version, so be forewarned. The story of twentieth-century warfare really is a Spy Vs. Spy drama, in which scientists and engineers devise better and more efficient ways of killing people, while at the same time scientists and physicians devise better and more efficient ways of saving people’s lives.
Don’t miss the story about the homemade defibrillator, depicted at right. Wowza! You can download the weekend podcast for free here. See the photo gallery here, with photos from Dong Ha and China Beach, as well as pictures from the fortieth reunion in Charleston, S.C. earlier this month. The men in these stories did incredible, lifesaving work in an impossibly deadly war zone, and they speak frankly about the dissociative mental state they had to cultivate in order to do their work. The freshness of this audio documentary is in part due to the fact that these men haven’t discussed these events or told these stories until now, forty years later.