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Foreword

Contents

Foreword

The Army Veterinary Service has three major missions: (1) Inspection of food used by the military including its processing and the sanitary inspections of the establishments producing it; (2) provision of a comprehensive animal service; and (3) conduct of veterinary laboratory services concerned with food and various types of research. All of these missions assist the Army Medical Service to protect the health of human beings and animals.

The veterinary animal service, as might have been expected, was the major activity of the Veterinary Corps in World War I. Great numbers of horses and mules were used, in a ratio of one animal to every three men. The outcome of major campaigns frequently depended upon the size and efficiency of animal transport. In World War II, which was a war of men and machines, the ratio was 1 animal to every 134 men. Obviously, in such a war, food inspection was the principal task of the Army Veterinary Service, and medical service for animals was of somewhat lesser importance. In World War I, an estimated 20 percent of Veterinary Corps personnel were utilized to inspect the Army's subsistence supply. In World War II, between 90 and 95 percent were used for this purpose.

The Army Veterinary Service is a component of the Army Medical Service and as such shares the responsibility of safeguarding the health of the Army. It fulfilled a vital mission in World War II by inspection of the food intended for troop consumption at the time of its purchase and receipt, as well as during its storage and shipment. As part of this mission, Veterinary Corps personnel inspected civilian as well as government installations to insure proper sanitation and techniques of storage and handling of all meat and meat products, marine and dairy products, and nonanimal products. These foodstuffs might readily have become contaminated and thus rendered not only useless but dangerous to the health of personnel had they been consumed.

None of these dangers came to pass. Between 1940 and 1945, personnel of the Veterinary Corps conducted an inspection service which aggregated more than 142 billion pounds of meat and dairy products. Enormous quantities of perishable foods were procured, shipped, and distributed on a worldwide basis, on a heretofore unimaginable scale, and under the most adverse conditions. It is impossible to overemphasize the contribution to the war effort made by the Veterinary Corps in the maintenance of the health of the Army by its food inspection service.

More than gross inspection of these foods was required. An essential part of the service was laboratory analysis to substantiate organoleptic tests and detect deficiencies not otherwise discernible. To provide readily available facilities for this special mission to all veterinary officers, no matter where


they might be stationed, all area, medical general, and the numbered laboratories in oversea theaters had veterinary sections properly equipped and staffed with personnel specially trained to perform chemical or bacteriologic analyses required in connection with inspection of foods of animal origin. During World War II, the 11 such laboratories in the United States and the 23 units overseas analyzed approximately 225,000 food specimens of animal origin.

Because World War II was a global war, the activities of these laboratories varied widely, according to the quality and quantity of available perishable foodstuffs and the types of animal diseases endemic in the region. The animals from which meat products were obtained were subject to many diseases directly transmissible to man, such as tuberculosis, Malta fever, anthrax, actinomycosis, taeniasis, and glanders. In oversea theaters, particularly in the tropics, diseases new to United States troops were encountered, and many well-known diseases took on new importance, especially such entities as leishmaniasis, leptospirosis, rabies, ornithosis, and others that could spread from animals to troops. Some diseases, such as anthrax, canine distemper, pigeon pox, rabies, tetanus, and equine encephalomyelitis, were readily prevented by animal immunization, which was, of course, the responsibility of the Veterinary Corps.

Although its activities were chiefly centered on food inspection, the Veterinary Corps was responsible in World War II for the professional care of over 56,000 horses and mules used by the Army, as well as thousands of war dogs. It was also responsible for veterinary service for the pigeons used by the Signal Corps; for the animals used for laboratory tests, experimental purposes, and the production of sera; and for livestock of various types.

Another mission of the Army Veterinary Service in World War II was carried out in conjunction with Civil Affairs and Military Government. It served as a coordinating agency in reestablishing the veterinary service of wartorn lands; in getting their livestock industries back into production; and in increasing their production of biologicals and veterinary supplies. It is highly significant that after World War II, plagues of animal diseases, for the first time in history, did not sweep across continents and add to the famine and chaos which ordinarily follow war. The Veterinary Service has an important future in this field, which encompasses a knowledge of diseases and of the care of all types of livestock; a knowledge of the principles of quarantine and of the national and international laws relating to it; and a worldwide knowledge of veterinary science.

It is small wonder, in view of its varied missions and responsibilities, that the Army Veterinary Service expanded from its regular strength of approximately 126 officers in 1939 to 2,116 in August 1945, and that its enlisted strength during the period of hostilities ranged between 6,000 and 8,000. 

Lt. Col. Everett B. Miller, VC, the author of this volume, has devoted much time and effort to the preparation of this permanent record of the  


activities of the Army Veterinary Service in World War II. Appreciation is also due to Col. George L. Caldwell, VC, USA (Ret.), formerly Assistant Chief, Veterinary Service, Office of The Surgeon General. As editor of this volume, Colonel Caldwell has supplemented Colonel Miller's fine work.

Together, author and editor have produced a volume which discusses, in proper perspective, the major problems encountered, and the measures taken to solve them, by the U.S. Army Veterinary Service in World War II. The outstanding record of the Army Veterinary Service in World War II is one of which our Nation may well be proud. It sets a pattern for emulation by those responsible for planning veterinary programs for the future.

LEONARD D. HEATON, 
Lieutenant General, 
The Surgeon General.

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