Naval Support Activity Hospital (NSAH)

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.

NSAH Patients

NSAH Patients

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.

Bonnie

Bonnie

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.

10 thoughts on “Naval Support Activity Hospital (NSAH)

  1. Billy LeCroy

    I was the only Army medic at NSAH in 67. I worked in the Dental clinic during the day, the OR and triage at night.
    We identified a lot of the bodies from the Forrestal fire. I have never in my life seen anything more horrible
    as working triage there. I can’t even finish writing this.
    Brotherly love to all of you.

    Billy F. LeCroy Jr.
    Seattle

    Reply
  2. Les DuVall

    I arrived in Danang on July 4, 1969. The airfield was under fire but everyone carried on as if it were a normal sunny day. We were quickly processed and exchanged our Navy gear for drab green. I hadn’t worked in an operating room for 2 years. The tires were quickly to reach through road for this HM4. So many wounded, so many died. I drank and smoked but nothing made the emptiness and helplessness go away.

    Reply
  3. Bob Wise

    I was at NSAH Danang from November 1967 to April 1968. I was a OR technician working in the OR. Still struggle with what happened there during TET. I compare it to Dante’s Inferno. In April of 68 I went to the Patrol Boats on the Cua Viet river which was scary but I don’t carry that part of my tour like I do what I participated in during TET. Would love to hear from anyone especially the OR crew.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Luehrs

      Mr. Wise,
      You left a comment to PJ Kelly’s YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ta7U_3gGdM) and you mentioned some of the doctors you worked with at NSA Hospital Danang 1967-1968. One of the doctors you listed was Dr. Louers but you were unsure of the spelling. I believe you may have been referring to my dad, James G. “Jerry” Luehrs. He was stationed at NSA Hospital in Danang during that time. Dad passed away June 14, 2005 in Plano, TX so unfortunately he won’t be able to reply himself. I’m sure he would have responded to commend you for your actions in Danang. He did not talk about it to his family but I know he had tremendous respect to everyone he worked with there and found it difficult to not find the same level of courage, competence, and cohesion when he returned to his OR duties back in the states. I am interested in any memories or perhaps photos you have of my dad during that time.

      Reply
      1. Bob Wise

        Hi Kevin, I am sure if your father was there during the TET offensive then he is the surgeon I remember. What I remember about your father is that he really cared. He was a little difficult in surgery but I feel that was because he felt we should save them all. I don’t know if he ever mentioned this but he was the surgeon who operated on a top level NVA Major named Nyguen Van Lam. He was wounded on Jan 28, 2 days before TET. Your father had a argument with Intelligence officer because Lam was gravely wounded and he was going to die if we didn’t get started. The Intelligence was still interrogating the soilder. The Intelligence guy won and we waited until he was done. After he was done we started the surgery but Lam died. This was an incident that Mike Wallace asked Westmoreland about during a documentary in 1982. The Intelligence was shared with Westmoreland but he ignored it. I understand never talking about what the OR was like during that time., I didn’t either. They say that the hospital saved 98% if they got to the hospital but I can say that the % was lower during TET. I was in surgery for 50-60 hours then 4 hours sleep and back to it. So I am sure your dad did the same or more since he was a surgeon. I scrubbed many cases with your father. He was difficult but I respected why. Sorry, I lost all my pictures of that time in a house fire. I didn’t talk about it because #1. Vietnam was very unpopular and for a lot of people we were held in scorn for our participation. #2. How do you put into words what happened. Your audience has no way of relating to what your saying if they weren’t there. I do know there would many more names on the wall if it wasn’t for people like your dad. Bob

        Reply
        1. Bob Wise

          Kevin, another memory of being in the OR during TET with your father. We were repairing a artery in a marines leg. A rocket hit the hospital very close to the OR. It blew the door open. It knocked over my instument table. Your dad never missed a beat. I was freaked. He never lost his focus and brought me back to mine. We also had the enemy breach our perimeter during that time. We still kept operating . The Marines took care of the problem. We did something like 1000 operations in 12 days in 4 Operating Rooms. The math doesn’t work because that would be like 25 operations a day in each OR. To say the least, it was intense. Bob

          Reply
  4. Charles Quirk

    I served at NSAH as HM3 1969-1970, and am trying yo locate hoochmate Jim Mount HM3. to no avail . Any help greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Reply
  5. Walter R (Willie) Wilson

    I worked ICU at NSAH Danang from Mid October 1969 until we shut it down in May 1970. I left in country on May 21, 1970. It was truly an experience.

    Reply
  6. john crescenzi

    I was stationed at nash from april 1968 to april 1969. First 8 months worked on the icu. Next 4 months worked in the lab primarily assisting Dr. Bill Buck performing autopsies. Greatly admired all the corpsmen, nurses, and doctors I worked with. Would like to hear from anyone who was there. We saved a lot of lives.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *