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HISTORY OF THE OFFICE OF MEDICAL HISTORY
8076th Army Unit, Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and 45th Hospital, Mobile Army
HISTORY OF THE 8076TH ARMY UNIT,
MOBILE ARMY SURGICAL HOSPITAL
(19 JULY 1950-31 JANUARY 1953)
45TH SURGICAL HOSPITAL, MOBILE ARMY
(1 FEBRUARY 1953-JULY 1953)
45TH M0BILE ARMY SURGICAL HOSPITAL
12 March 1953
Activated Yokohama, 19 July 1950
1. General Order No. 162, dtd 19 July 1950, Headquarters, Eighth United States Army activated the unit as a 60 bed MASH.
2. Personnel including twelve (12) Nurses and eighty-nine (89) Enlisted Men were drawn from hospitals all over Japan. One (1) MSC and one (1) Warrant Officer transferred out of hospitals in Japan. Ten (10) Medical Officers and other MSC Officers were flown from the states.
3. Organization was assisted in equipping itself at 155th Station Hospital in Yokohama. Personnel original were assigned to 155th and thus from there to 8076th MASH, APO 707 which was later changed to APO 301.
4. Personnel for Unit D, 8076th MASH, began arriving at 155th on 17th and were processed and equipment issued through period of 19 July. On 19th of July equipment was loaded on trucks and pulled over to Pier 2, Yokohama for combat loading on Sgt. USNS, George D. Keathley for shipment to Korea. Following key assignments wore made this date.
Major Kryder E. Van Buskirk -- Commanding
Boarded the USNS George D. Keathley on the 20th of July. Personnel all in excellent physical condition. Trucks and equipment were loaded on board.
Sailed at 0800 on the morning of the 21st. During the following days of 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th the personnel were briefed by the Commanding Officer on what to expect. Daily inspections of the ship were made, and a tentative plan on the job assignment was made. All personnel wore screened and interviewed. SOP's set up, and a general overall plan for operations and movement was established. During this time the
overall administration operations of the hospital were taking place.
We arrived in Pusan on the 25th of July under the command of Major Kryder E. Van Buskirk. At midnight that night they departed by train for Kumchon and arrived there on the morning of the second day. They remained there only a few hours and departed for Taegu, only to stay there for only five days. At 0330 hours en the 1st of August they left Taegu for Miryang to the south. They began setting up at 1730 and worked all night getting tents etc. ready. Guerilla attacked the supply truck that night. The hospital had no operation tables and many ether essential items had to be improvised, however the hospital became first time operation that day with Sgt. Reed (Mess Sgt) as the first patient.
They remained in Miryang for two months until the 4th of October, during which time they were the main hospital of the MASH category which was supporting the Pusan Perimeter, furnishing forward hospital support of every division in Korea with the exception of the 25th division. During this period of time 5,674 patients were admitted to this hospital and in one instance 608 patients were admitted in one (24) hour period. Again at this time the supply truck was attacked by guerilla.
It was during this period that the amphibious landing was made at Inchon and accordingly the tide of battle was turned and the Eighth Army troops began to advance north and the MASH moved north to Taegu on 4 October, and remained there for one week before moving to Taejon on 11 October. It remained in Taejon only two days and moved north to Suwon on the 12th of October where it remained for only eight days, when it moved to Kumchon on the 21st October. It remained in Kumchon for only a week and moved on the 28th of October to Haeju and there again for only eight days until 5 November.
From the time after Hiryang when the landing was made at Inchon until Haeju things seemed to be going quite well for the U.N. troops and it was about this time that the famous statement that the boys would be home for Christmas was made. This was made without considering that the Chinese would enter which they did on 27 November (Major Van Buskirk was promoted to Lt Col 5 November 1950). About this time the hospital began to work in earnest again and the hospital moved again to Kumchon on 7 November staying two weeks until 22 November when it moved to Kunuri for perhaps what was the most tragic episode in its history.
It was then that the coldest weather ever encountered in Korea was met with temperatures as low as 23 and 30 degrees below zero with copious amount of snow. Because of the complete surprise of the Chinese intervention, and the unusually cold weather, there were men who were fighting in nothing more than fatigues and field jackets, so along with numerous battle casualties there were literally hundreds of men froze to death. During the six days they were in Kunuri there were 1,836 admissions to the hospital and on one day 661 admitted.
At this time there were only 12 Medical Officers and 120 Enlisted Men. There were no such things as blowers for heating, and the entire hospital was in tents. Routinely there were 13 and 14 persons in each squad tent.
The patients were arriving in such a large number that literally there was no place to put them inside the hospital tents, and when the ambulances would arrive they would just have to leave the patients lying in the snow, where unfortunately some froze to death before they could even be brought into the hospital tents. However being brought inside was no assurance against freezing because the temperature in the tents was so low that patients froze there, their resistance being lowered as a result of injuries.
It was at this time that one of the most difficult decisions any Medical Officer ever had to make was made. The influx of casualties was such that the unit was unable to care for all of them. Therefore some of the more seriously injured patients were given sufficient medication to prevent suffering and then they were put aside to die while the hospitals attention was focused on those casualties who could be saved.
After being in Kunuri for only six days, the order to "bug out" was given on the 28th of November, and accordingly the hospital loaded up and moved out at 1600 hours. Because of the pressing nature of the tactical situation then, not all of the patients were able to be evacuated simply because there were not enough ambulances to carry them out, and as a result about 40 of the patients, one of the doctors and several of the corpsmen were left behind to somewhat uncertain fate since the Chinese were advancing with such speed that all of the roads and highways were clogged with retreating U.N. personnel and equipment. Fortunately, help was gotten to rescue the stranded patients with the doctor and corpsmen, so none of the personnel were killed or taken prisoners.
It was on the "bug out" from Kunuri (four hours before CCF) that the MASH experienced its nearest disaster. Orders had been given Lt. Col. Van Buskirk to with draw to Pyong-yang, the north Korean Capitol by a certain route. However on reaching the forks in the road where the convoy was suppose to go left, Col. Van Buskirk decided that the route was unsafe and instead took the right fork, which is quite fortunate because all the troops and convoys which took the left fork were trapped in a road block with almost 100% of them either being killed or taken prisoners.
The unit arrived at Pyong-yang at 0200 and took over 1,000 patients from the l71 evacuation hospital which had been forced to retreat. It continued to treat casualties plus take care of the evacuation of all those casualties left by that unit. Most of those evacuations wore by air and the situation was so acute that planes that normally carried 35 or 40 patients were taking loads of 50 and 60.
The hospital remained at Pyong-yang for four days only before it was again forced to retreat southward to Kaesong, the old site of the truce talks. At Kaesong they stayed only a week leaving there at 1530 on the 10th December, again "bugging out", this time to Suwon for the second time.
At this time the retreat of the U.N. forces was so rushed that the roads were lined actually bumper to bumper with vehicles and the orders were that if any vehicle broke down, it was to be pulled to the side of the road, the motor destroyed, and the vehicle burned.
The tales of personal bravery, heroism, self preservation and sheer guts at that time, are a true credit to the Army. There was one soldier who was captured by the Chinese, who did nothing more than take his boots and later released him in his bare feet. The weather at that time was sub zero and the ground covered with snow. This soldier walked barefooted trying to reach our lines until his feet froze so that he was unable to walk further; he was forced to sit out in the open for three weeks with no food, no shelter except for his uniform and no water except for what he could obtain from eating snow. He was found at the end of this three week period weighing approximately 65 pounds and with both feet gangrenous and black, necessitating amputation of both logs. He was one of many who passed through this hospital.
The first Christmas and New Years Day were spent in Suwon while the front stabilized a bit, but again the U.N. forces were forced to retreat and this time the hospital with drew still
further south to Taejon, setting up only to have to breakdown again after a few hours and go to Sanju on an over night move arriving 6 January.
At present most of you have no comprehension of what a move is like because we are so well established here that it seems inconceivable that the hospital could actually move, but at that time the hospital was set up to break down the tents, pack up the supplies, load them on trucks and be ready to pull out within 6 hours. There were no chances for each man to build up a little empire such as we have now, because there was no place to carry the excess gear. Between 4 October and 31 January the hospital moved on an average of once a week, and on one move the hospital was broken down and ready to pull out in one hour and fifteen minutes. The corpsmen and officers who were not driving vehicles, rode on top of the trucks after the gear had been packed.
The month of January was spent in Sangju as U.N. regrouped its forces and began the long slow drive back up the peninsula. At Sangju, the hospital was pitched in the river bed and guarded by heavy tanks.
On 1 February l95l the hospital moved north to Chungju where it stayed for a month before moving to Wonju on 4 March. It was at Wonju that U.N. troops took over a Chinese aid station when the Chinese retreated, and found approximately 79 of our own UN soldiers that had boon held as POWs. The unit moved to Hongchon 5 April.
At this time the MASH was functioning as a truly Mobile Hospital and as a truly Surgical Hospital and as a result it was nevermore than 10 miles and often as close as five miles behind the front, and as the fighting moved forward the MASH was right behind it.
At Hongsh'on in the latter part of
April the Communists began their second counter offensive, and again the
MASH had to "bug out", this time on 25 April which happened to be the 9th
month anniversary of the MASH's arrival in Korea. At that time the hospital
was only eight miles behind the MLR and knowing that the Communists were
advancing we had been quite anxious about it and when we would have to
move, however we were assured by Army we would hold fast our positions
on the evening of the 25th, and about 0100 of 26 April, Corps advised unit
would have to "bug out". All personnel were assembled, the hospital taken
down and patients evacuated. By 0730 the hospital was enroute to Chungju
for the second time.
This organization was placed in reserve at this time some 60 or 75 miles behind the front and sat up in a school building in Chungju which was later occupied by the 11th Evacuation Hospital.
Being in reserve was short lived, though, and two weeks later the unit was moved forward to Suwon for the third time. During the history of the MASH all was not grim all the time but occasional humorous things happened which made life quite liveable and did much to blend the MASH into a well-functioning integrated unit with one of the highest esprit de corps of any outfit in Korea. One of those incidents happened in Suwon, and although it was anything but funny at the time it later served as a wonderful basis for reminiscing: This was the night of the big rain, (one night after several days of almost continuous rain when the mud was almost up to the top of your boots. In addition to the rain there was a terrific wind storm which effectively blow down almost every tent on the compound pulling out the tent stakes as if they were matches. Everyone was routed out by the tents falling down on top of them and in the middle of the night with the rain pouring down in sheets everyone was outside trying to drive in new tent stakes; there was so much mud this was impossible so in the end all the trucks from the motor pool were called out and the tents were held up by the trucks until the mud dried out sufficiently to permit tent stakes to be used again.)
It was at Suwon that the 8076th was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation which reads as follows:
The MOBILE ARMY SURGICAL HOSPITAL, 8076th ARMY UNIT is cited for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services in Korea in support of combat operations during the period from 25 July 1950 to 11 May 1951. During this period the MOBILE ARMY SURGICAL HOSPITAL, 8076th ARMY UNIT functioned in close support of front line units rendering outstanding medical services. Its primary mission was to perform as a sixty-bed surgical hospital, however, in many instances the unit assumed the additional responsibilities of an evacuation hospital without loss of operational efficiency. Between 2 August and 5 October [at] Miryang, the unit furnished forward hospital support for all front line troops except the 25th Infantry Division, admitting 5,674 patients and in one twenty-four hour period handled 244 surgical procedures. On another occasion this unit processed 608 patients in one day. A total of 15,000 patients were cared for during the nine months this unit has been in operation, and the medical service rendered to the United Nation Forces was of the highest caliber. Under all types of conditions, this hospital has displayed outstanding initiative and aggressive action in performing its many missions.
Although the hospital was required to operate in no less than thirteen different areas in close medical support of front line units, its effectiveness and efficiency has excelled the high standards set by the Army Medical Service. The MOBILE ARMY SURGICAL HOSPITAL, 8076th ARMY UNIT displayed such outstanding devotion and superior performance of exceptionally difficult tasks as to set it apart and above other units with similar missions. The efficiency effectiveness and versatility shown by the members of the unit in the performance of their assigned missions reflect great credit on themselves, the Army Medical Service, and the military service of the United States
BY COMMAND OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL VAN FLEET
The Unit moved from Suwon north to Chunchon on 29 May 1951 and shortly after arriving there, Lt. Col. Van Buskirk rotated to the States and the new commanding officer was Major John Mothershead, later Lt. Col. Mothershead. At the tine of arrival in Chunchon, there was only a small air strip. There was no rail transportation available, and no bridges on the road between Chunchon and Seoul so after a heavy rain, supply trucks were frequently held up for several days until the streams went down enough to permit the trucks to ford them.
While at Chunchon the peace talks were started and accordingly the tactical situation diminished sufficiently that the unit had very few patients with the exception of one night when approximately 200 Chinese patients were sent within the period of about an hour, UN forces having overrun a Chinese clearing station. Among them was a Chinese Nurse who remained with the unit for approximately a month taking care of the numerous prisoner patients during that time.
On 17 September 1951 the unit moved forward to Hwachon. The stay at Chunchon was the longest which had been accomplished in any one location, and by that time all of the original members of the outfit had rotated to the states, so this move was accomplished with less finesse and ease than the other moves, and in fact had to be made in a period of two days.
During the last quarter of 1951 the unit remained at Hwachon and as described above continued to function in a most efficient manner. From the period of 17 September 1951 to 31 December 1951 the unit took care of 3,986 patients, 98% of them being battle casualties. Rotation and transfers to other areas in the Far Fast Command made heavy indentations on the experienced personnel. Adequate replacements commenced to arrive during the latter part of November and December to the extent that the
enlisted strength went from a figure of 196 in November to 223 by the end of December. During the last quarter of l95l the unit was in direct support of the 1st Cavalry Division and the 7th Infantry Division until mid-November, when the front lines were moved north approximately nine miles and extended to our left and right flanks for an average of twenty miles. ROKA Divisions commenced to replace American Divisions which reflected in the patient status to the extent that about one half were ROKA patients for the last half of December.
Due to the peace negotiations the entire front was comparatively quiet with the start of the New Year which created a situation that found the unit for the first time in its history doing work comparable to that of an evacuation hospital. Which including running a rather large out-patient service, giving consultations, performing laboratory work for nearby units and in general rendering a more diversified medical service. However the primary mission as always was to give surgical support to combat divisions. During the month of January through April the hospital supported the 7th Division, 2nd, 3rd, and 25th and some elements of the II ROKA Corps who commenced to move in the area to the north. The unit participated in one campaign during this period, the second Korean winter, 28 November 1951 to 30 April 52 inclusive. In January of 1952, 1,178 patients were processed with only 323 battle casualties. In February 1952, 1,132 patients were processed with 208 of them as battle casualties. In March, 986 patients were admitted and 239 of them were battle casualties. In April 963 patients were processed with 223 of those as battle casualties.
With the passing of winter and a comparative quiet front. A general improvement program was ordered by Lt. Col. Maurice R. Connolly that actually started in July 1952. For the first sustained period in the history of the unit personal conveniences and material comforts become of paramount importance. Prior to this everyone was too occupied in work, keeping warm and moving to be very concerned about the adequacy of latrines and quarters, the suitability of the EM and Officers clubs etc. In conjunction with the improvement program a training program was also put into effect for the first time in the history of the unit. Even paper work, reports and red tape in general commenced to increase to an extent that at times even the expression "police action" seemed like a vague term as applied to the general situation where the 8076th was concerned. Rotation continued to have its effect as reflected in the decrease of EM strength of 223 in December to 194 in Apri1. The Officers and Nurse strength remained constant the majority of the time.
During May and June American Divisions to the north were shifted ta other sections of the front and replaced entire with divisions of the II ROKA Corps which included the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, 9th and Capital ROKA divisions. Other than receiving patients from American divisions in reserve and as a result of vehicle accidents most admissions were ROKA soldiers. In May 762 patients were admitted with 246 of them battle casualties. In June there were 846 with 229 as battle casualties. In July there were 642 patients with 149 battle casualties.
The summer was highlighted by a formal presentation, complete with band and formation on the 30 July 1952, from General Paik Nam Kwon Commanding General of the II ROKA Corps commending the organization for its support of ROKA divisions.
August l952 was an uneventful month with a total admission of only 432 of which 214 were battle casualties. Such factors as R & R quotas, trips to Seoul, picnics and social activities gradually became of more importance, although dirt and generally undesirable living conditions were a constant problem.
Improvements of the area were expedited with the advent of winter which included new tentage and floors for the hospital proper and pre--fab wall lining. The EM mess tent was replaced, a complete new holding ward was framed and setup, the Officers and Nurses quarters were completely replaced, and EM quarters were replaced as required. Pre--fab structures replaced supply housing, Officers and EM club, theater and chapel, shower unit and motor pool. The PX, barber shop and post office were put into one tent with new floor, counters and shelves.
August and September found many older personnel leaving. By 15 September the enlisted strength had decreased to 129 and new personnel were commencing to arrive weekly. The training program was stepped to counteract this in the form of on the job training, classroom instruction and field training.
September found admissions only 362 with 221 of these battle casualties. October admissions went to 486 with 284 battle casualties. In November only 322 patients were admitted of which 189 were battle casualties. December ended 1952 with 278 admissions of which 108 wore battle casualties.
On the 4th of November Lt. Col. Maurice R. Connolly was evacuated with hemorrhagic fever to the ZI and Captain Charles E. Hannan assumed Command. Major Irvine O. Jordan was transferred from the 121st Evacuation Hospital on the 9th of November and assumed command on that date. Major Harry Grossman was
transferred from the 8063rd MASH on the 2nd December and relieved Major Jordon of command on that date.
On the 2nd of December the 8193rd AU, Helicopter Detachment was reorganized as the 50th Medical Detachment, Helicopter Ambulance with an authorized strength of 7 Officers and 21 EM. This change attached them to the hospital for administration and logistical support. Their strength to date was only 4 Officers and 4 EM.
The year 1953 commenced in an uneventful manner. For the month of January, 155 patients were admitted to the hospital, 42 of them battle casualties. Rotation continued to make constant changes in personnel. The enlisted strength continued to drop to the extent that for the first two months of the year it averaged 115 men. Major Harry Grossman was evacuated medically on the 29th of January and Captain Charles Hannan assumed Command on that date.
On 7 February 1953 Lt. Col. Charles F. Hollingsworth was assigned and assumed command. On 1 February the 8076th MASH AU was redesignated to the 45th MASHosp per General Order No. 69 Hdq. (EUSAK) dtd 10 Jan 1953 to operate under TO&E 8-571, which authorizes 16 male officers including 3 administrative officers, 12 female officers and 93 enlisted men. The redesignation entailed a considerable amount of administrative work which was effected completely by 20 February. On 24 February practice moves by all hospital sections were made a part of the regular training program. The results were most gratifying in that during the week ending 28 February the hospital proper had moves by sections and the longest time taken by any one department was an hour and fifteen minutes to completely load, unload and set up to receive patients. As a result of this it was estimated that in spite of the long stagnant period experienced, the hospital proper could set up and receive patients in five hours.
The 45th Surgical Hospital was operational for the entire month of March. Our mission was to provide medical support for the divisions of the II ROK Corps. In addition, hospitalization and out-patient treatment was given to American divisions in reserve.
Evacuation of patients and casualties was effected by units of the 584th Medical Ambulance Company and the 50th Medical Detachment, Helicopter Group.
On April 3, 1953 the hospital made its first move in several months from Hwachon to Munsan-Ni for the purpose of participating in Operation Little Switch, the first prisoner exchange. The function of the hospital was to receive and give first medical attention to the returned sick and wounded United Nations prisoners of war. By afternoon of April 4, 1953 the hospital was set up and ready to receive patients.
In an effort to provide a maximum of comfort for the patients, metal folding type beds with mattresses were used and were made up with new linen and two new blankets. On each bedside stand were a set of new pajamas, a bathrobe, towel, and slippers. The patients were able to get a meal, a coke, coffee, malted milks, frappes, and cigarettes.
Since there were no cases requiring surgery among the 213 returned prisoners, the average time spent in the hospital was relatively short. . . . . only forty minutes.
The medical operations for the rest of the month consisted of sick call for our own and adjacent units.
After Operation Little Switch was carried out, the physical plan of the hospital had to be altered in order to carry out the needs of and efficient Surgical Hospital. The case with which the succeeding great number of casualties was handled proved the change to be adequate and practical. Many of the casualties were Turkish Armed Forces Personnel and there was some difficulty overcoming the language barrier.
The hospital continued operations at Munsan-Ni until June 21, 1953 when it moved to a new area at P'Aiu-Ri, Korea. At no time during the move was the hospital non-operational. Casualties for the period from American Divisions, the Turkish Army Brigade, and other United Nations troops.
During the initial days of the month much time was spent in adding conveniences and luxuries to the area. A shower unit and laundry were set up. The EM club and Red Cross tent provided recreational facilities during off-duty hours.
On July 9, 1953 we were alerted to move and on July 10 the move was effected. The hospital was operational near Toknon-Ni, North Korea from July 10, 1953 thru July 27 supporting 7th Infantry Division troops during the pushes against Pork Chop Hill. On July 24 this unit received a letter of commendation (dated 18 July 1953) from Major General Arthur G. Trudeau, Commanding general of the 7th Infantry Division, for its outstanding medical support.
At Toknon-Ni we were rather cramped for space, therefore few conveniences or recreational facilities were available. Morale remained high, however, due primarily to the excellent food prepared by our new mess sergeant, Sergeant Loving.
With the signing of the truce on July 27, 1953, we were ordered to move back to our former location at P'Aiu-Ri to ready ourselves for our part in the long awaited Operation Big Switch.