Quan Loi, VN May 12, 1969 - A 35th Anniversary Rememberance
My name is Fred Deakins.  I was a member of Charlie Company 15th Med and I was there May 12, 1969. 

Charlie Company was down the airstrip from you guys on the same side.  We were near the end of the LZ.  We had a treatment bunker and Medevac pad.  Our jobs were sick call, casualty stabilization and triage and graves registration.  On the night of May 12, 1969 I was one of three medics on call in the treatment bunker.  The bunker was set up for rapid treatment of severely wounded.  We had places for six litters at a time.  Anyway, we were sleeping on the litters late that night when all hell broke loose.  We rolled out of the litters onto the floor and realized none of us had brought a weapon from our hootches across the road.  So there we were, scared more than we had ever been in our lives and totally unarmed.  I don't know about the other two but I got a little nuts, trying to sink through the cracks in the floor as this huge firefight was going on right outside our door.  We still had our exterior lights on for landing Medevacs and the bunker was lit up inside too.  We could hear voices outside through the noise and I assumed they were Charlie.

We were waiting to get blown away when all of a sudden there was a knocking at the door.  I thought that was a little too polite to be Charlie so I crawled over to the door and opened it.  A guy from the perimeter had had his bunker blown up by either RPGs or  satchel charges and he was the only one left.  His clothes had been blown away almost entirely except for his boots.  Then the most amazing thing happened.  We three  totally turned our backs on the battle and the danger that had so terrified us just minutes before and put the guy up on a litter to treat him.  I remember his skin was peppered all over with holes from the dirt and grit being blown into it.  Not knowing if any penetrated the chest cavity we wrapped his chest in Vaseline gauze and treated him as if he was one giant sucking chest wound.  I remember he was from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but do not remember his name. 

From that point on it gets a little hazy.  I remember the rest of the medics arriving at about the same time a bunch more guys were brought in from outside by our non-medical guys.   They had crawled down to the bunkers and dragged or carried the wounded back to us.  I wondered why none of the medics went down there but there was nothing more they could have done than the cooks without medic bags, but they could do a hell of a lot for the casualties in the treatment bunker.

Just about all the other LZs around were being hit at the same time so we not only got the ones from Quan Loi but the other LZs too.  Our Medevacs were hauling them in to us about as fast as they could, receiving fire when picking them up and also when dropping them off to us.  I remember going outside to unload a Medevac and seeing the tracers going all around.  I am color blind and told my buddy I couldn't tell ours from theirs.  He told me just to worry about the ones coming toward us. Good advice!

The scene inside the treatment bunker got more gruesome than I could ever describe.  We got in 147 wounded that night.  Many were bleeding profusely and the floor got deep with blood to the point we were sliding in it.  I remember it as ankle deep.  I have tried to analyze that for years, surely it couldn't have been that bad.  Some of those guys got twenty pints of blood, some got as many as ten.  I did some math and came up with sixty gallons of blood on the floor.  We had to pour cases of quarts of peroxide on it to foam it up and then sweep it out the doors.  We were working at a furious rate on those guys. 

Put litter on sawhorses, cut off clothes and boots, bandage wounds, stop bleeding with tourniquets if necessary, splint fractures, open airway, intubate or tracheotomy, put in as many IV's as possible, give blood using pumps, pain shots, antibiotics, tetanus shots, cut downs, chest tubes, clamping spurting arteries...  All these things we did almost all at once with a medic at each limb and one at the head.  So much blood in the litter we would just lift one end and pour blood like a bucket on the floor.  Take off a boot and the foot falls off.  

One of the things about war wounds is they usually involve metal passing through someone and as such the head could be clear in spite of the most horrendous wounds.  We talked to the guys, so used to our jobs that they became second nature.  We became their mothers, chaplains, friends, staying with them all the way to the end then having to put them in a bag and go on to the next one and do it all over again.  I had 22 guys die like that on me that night.  All the while that battle out there was a faint distant sound.

I don't know if we got any of you or your buddies, but if we did we treated them with respect and love.  We didn't lie to them, if they were dying we told them so.  I saw guys go through the entire grieving process from denial to acceptance in five minutes.  We talked about girlfriends if they had any, cars if they had any, some just talked about their bicycles if they had had one.  Never has the word "home" been said with more feeling than it was that night.

One of our jobs was to sort the casualties.  Triage divides them into three groups, the ones that are not hurt bad enough to be life threatening, the ones that can be saved if treated immediately and the ones hurt too bad to live.  We worked on the second group and sent them on to the 24th and 93rd Evacuation Hospitals in Long Binh.  Usually the ones too bad didn't have much head left so we set them aside.

It must have ended.  I just remember eating eggs at the mess hall the next morning.  I looked down at my hands and I had forgotten to wash them.  I was amazed how I did not care.

Do I remember May 12, 1969?  I am still there, I never left.
Fred Deakins       Then  and  Now
Charlie Company, 15th Medivac
Oct 68 to Jul 69


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