I served as a Hospital Corpsman 3rd class at NSAH, Da Nang, Vietnam from August 1967 to August 1968. NSAH received patients mainly from the Medevac choppers. Some of the wounded had initial life-saving medical treatment by the Navy corpsmen and Army medics in the field.
Some of the wounded were put on board the choppers, and the corpsmen and medics aboard would give life-saving treatment and first aid while en-route NSAH.
See the Leatherneck magazine article and the Stars and Stripes article pages for pictures and more details.
Under the operational control of III MAF/I corps, this mash- type combat hospital was located in a remote area next to Marble mountain, across from MAG 16. Part of the largest Naval support activity in history, the primary function of the hospital was to provide medical treatment to the United States Marines Corps and the other free world armed forces fighting in I corps.
Free world armed forces included: US Marine Corps, US Navy, US Army, US Air Force, US Coast Guard, ROK (Korean Marines), Australlian troops, and Vietnamese civilians. NSAH also treated NVA POW soldiers and Viet Cong POWs in its’ POW ward. I corps ranged from the DMZ to all of Da Nang and Quangnam Province.
NSAH is listed (in the Vietnam war reference book “Where We Were in Vietnam“) as USN/USMC hospital Da Nang, Quangnam province (isbn #9781555716257). Some of the Navy corpsmen had immediate orders directly to NSAH without attending FMF field training; however, the greatest number of Navy personnel killed in action were, by far, corpsmen.
This created corpsmen staffing shortages. Many corpsmen at NSAH would later serve at various Marine locations, including with Marine units TDY for ninety days or longer. The whole concept of III MAF I corps was joint operations, which would later serve as the model for Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq.
If you watch Dr. Kelly’s video, you will experience first hand this job wasn’t for those with a weak stomach. It was a 24×7 combat wounded operation in order to save over 98% of those who arrived to us still alive. Doctors, Navy nurses, and Navy corpsmen gave it all they had to send our troops back home alive.If you were ever stationed at NSAH, then you knew Bonnie, our pet Vietnamese python.
Just like in any war movie, to boost morale, the military provided movies for the patients who were not restricted to bed. often, the incoming alarm would sound and everyone headed for their bunker.
Once the “all clear” sounded, the patients returned to watch the rest of the movie. NSAH was constructed on beach sand, as you can see by the deep footprints in the sand. A piece of white plywood and wooden benches made a make-shift theater.
I would like to thank all the navy doctors, including my good friend, Dr. P.J. Kelly, and all the Navy nurses whose skill, dedication and stamina saved the lives of so many of our troops. They truly performed medical miracles.