Chapter VIII: 

Service Support in Vietnam: 
Subsistence and Miscellaneous


U.S. soldiers in Vietnam ate well. Ice cream and eggs to order were not uncommon items at fire support bases. Extensive use of large refrigerators, refrigerator vans, and helicopters permitted troops in the field to enjoy garrison type rations on an almost routine basis. Naturally these conditions were not available in 1965, but grew as logistics units arrived and facilities were established and improved.

In early 1965, the Headquarters Support Activity, Saigon, under operational control of the U.S. Navy, was responsible for supplying perishable and nonperishable subsistence to all units in South Vietnam except in I Corps which was supplied by Headquarters 3d Marine Amphibious Force. Headquarters Support Activity, Saigon submitted its requisitions directly to Defense Personnel Support Center in Continental U.S. Perishables were shipped by air on a 2-2-3 day cycle to upcountry units. Nonperishables were shipped by Landing Ship Tank (LST) on a monthly basis to units located in Vung Tau, Cam Ranh Bay, Nha Trang and Qui Nhon. The Navy continued to support all U. S. forces as the wholesaler until March 1966. At that time the responsibility for II, III and IV Corps was transferred to Headquarters, 1st Logistical Command.

When the 1st Logistical Command assumed the mission of subsistence support from the Navy, requisitions were centralized for II, III and IV Corps and submitted through 2d Logistical Command in Okinawa to the Defense Personnel Support Center. Later the system was modified and requisitions were placed directly on Defense Personnel Support Center. In November 1969, the system was further modified requiring requisitions to be placed through the Defense Automated Addressing System in order to integrate subsistence data with other logistics information at the Logistical Control Office, Pacific.

Originally field units subsisted primarily on B rations and


the MCI or meal, combat, individual (an individually packaged meal, which does not require refrigeration). Units in areas such as Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau subsisted upon A rations including fresh fruits, vegetables and milk in accordance with the monthly Continental U.S. Master Menu.

This was later changed to a special thirty-day menu developed for use in South Vietnam. This menu required more refrigerator capacity than was available, and another menu, a twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was developed in late 1966 requiring less refrigeration.

Fresh fruits and vegetables were received from Continental U.S., Western Pacific, and in-country sources. Items which could not be successfully moved through the long Continental U.S. supply line were procured from Western Pacific and in-country suppliers.

In October 1967, the Sea Land Corporation began providing refrigerator cargo service to South Vietnam. Four C4J vessels arrived in Cam Ranh Bay every 15 days. Each vessel hauled 120 refrigerated vans and 530 general dry cargo vans. The 120 refrigerated vans were divided with 60 going to Saigon, 30 to Qui Nhon and 30 remaining at Cam Ranh Bay. Distribution was made to Saigon and Qui Nhon by a smaller shuttle vessel from Cam Ranh Bay. This system was used because of the costs to construct other land cranes to offload C4J vessels which do not have organic cranes. A T3, capable of carrying 93 refrigerated vans and 360 general cargo vans, was introduced to service the port of Da Nang.

To provide a wide range of dairy products, the A ration required three recombining milk plants to be built in Vietnam. A Foremost Dairy plant in Saigon began production in December 1965. Under a contractual agreement with the Army, Meadowgold Dairies constructed one plant in Cam Ranh Bay which began production on 15 November 1967 and another in Qui Nhon which began production on 4 February 1968. The cost was to be amortized and ownership transferred to the U.S. Government. By assuming the risk of the operations in Vietnam, the Army obtained the Meadowgold product at a lower cost. To augment the ice cream provided by the milk plants, additional small size ice cream plants were brought into country to provide ice cream as far forward as possible. The number of these plants reached a high of 40.

Because construction of permanent general warehouses was a slow process and generally accomplished only in largely populated areas such as Long Binh, Cam Ranh Bay and Qui Nhon, a large quantity of Class I items were stored in the open. The movement


of subsistence to covered storage was not completed until early 1970.

Refrigeration was necessary for receiving, storing and issuing the perishable A ration components. Refrigeration was provided by use of 1,600 cubic feet pre-fab refrigerated units, permanent cold storage facilities, leased facilities, and floating storage.

The system of distributing subsistence supply encompassed sea, air and land transportation. Subsistence supply was affected by the long distances between depots and supported units and on occasion when the movement of perishable cargo was pre-empted by cargo with a higher priority. During the monsoon season support to isolated installations also taxed the available modes of transportation.

Subsistence support to other U. S. Forces and Free World Military Assistance Forces as well as open messes and civilian contractors resulted in an additional burden on Class I operations down through the lowest level of distribution. Support of Free World Military Assistance Forces required adjustment to the U. S. Army twenty-eight-day menu which included stockage of special items (for example, rice and kimchi) to meet their requirements.

In addition to the usual A, B and MCI ration, the tactical situation created a need for unique rations for use on patrol to augment the MCI ration. A lightweight ration, the Long Range Patrol Ration, was developed by Natick Laboratories which was a dehydrated, precooked type available in eight menus and highly acceptable to the troops. A special indigenous patrol ration was also developed to support personnel of the Free World Military Assistance Forces.

Other Support Services

Organization for Support Services

Support services include food service, graves registration, laundry and bath, labor, bakery, mess, medical, decontamination and property disposal. Food service elements were organic to each major headquarters and were responsible for monitoring food service activities in their subordinate organizations.

Graves registration support was provided by collecting points operated by divisional Supply and Transportation Battalions and by non-divisional Supply and Service companies. The collection points ensured that identification certificates were in order, the human remains were clean, documentation was correct, and per-


sonal effects were accurately recorded and safeguarded. The remains were then transferred to one of the two in-country mortuary centers at Da Nang or Tan Son Nhut. The personal effects depots consolidated the personal effects from the individual's unit, the collecting points, and those items removed at the mortuary and forwarded them to Continental U.S. for delivery to the next-of-kin.

Property disposal services were furnished on a geographic basis. Property disposal yards were established in each of the four Corps Tactical Zones. Sale of material from the yards was controlled by a central sales office working under the auspices of the 1st Logistical Command Headquarters, until 1 July 1970, when Headquarters U.S. Army Vietnam assumed responsibility for this operation.

The other support services, (laundry, bath, bakery, mess, labor and decontamination) were furnished on an area basis. Because Field Service Companies, Supply and Service Companies, Laundry Detachments, Bakery Detachments, and Mess Detachments were assigned geographic areas of responsibility, it was necessary to split some companies into platoon size units. The area concept also resulted in service units having non-service parent units. (Chart 16) Bath support was augmented by Army engineer construction and self-help programs.

Food Service

From July 1965 to February 1966, Class I supplies were automatically "pushed" to South Vietnam and the food consisted of B rations and MCI rations. The Push Packages were shipped from the various depots in Continental U.S. to the most convenient outloading ports. Because of the urgency of the situation, ships of opportunity were used (ships in port not fully loaded, but available for government use) . This resulted in the rations arriving in South Vietnam and being offloaded at ports other than those called for in the operation plan. Also in many cases the ships did not carry balanced components of the B ration. This caused an imbalance between the availability of various food components and the nutritional need of the troops being supported. To worsen the situation, Push Package markings were often ignored and the components of the rations were issued and consumed by units near the port of discharge, causing an unbalanced diet. The Push Package concept was successful only on the first two increments. Even though the use of Push Packages was stopped in February 1966, it took until 1968 to phase out non-authorized





stockage list items from the system. During the early part of this period the food service program suffered.

The buildup of troops and conversion from MCI feeding to the feeding of B ration meats and components of the A ration was rapid. Attempts were made to follow the Continental U.S. Master Menu in certain areas of Vietnam (Saigon, Cam Ranh Bay and Vung Tau) but this was difficult due to limited refrigeration facilities.

The twenty-eight-day menu developed in 1966 reduced the strain on refrigeration assets. In August 1969, a refined twenty-eight-day cyclic menu was adopted. This menu consisted of 4,500 calories of food energy per man per day and contained a wide and balanced variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, cereals and beverages. Over 90 percent of the meals were served hot.

During June 1968, the "cantonment mess" project was initiated to upgrade dining facilities. This project called for the replacement of "field type" equipment with "garrison type" kitchen equipment in base corps dining facilities. The replacement equipment was to be the same type as that normally used in Continental U.S. It was not possible to use the cantonment equipment to the extent originally planned, however, due to limited electrical power, fuel and maintenance support. For these reasons, and for a need on the part of some units to maintain mobility, a number of units continued to use "field type" cooking equipment in base corps facilities.

When possible, for troops on patrol and other field missions, meals were prepared in base camp kitchens and delivered in insulated food containers. When such deliveries could not be made because of weather, enemy action or terrain either the MCI (a canned ration) or the Long Range Patrol Packet was provided. The latter consists primarily of dehydrated components. The Ration Supplement Sundries Pack was also provided when troops did not have access to a Post Exchange outlet. This pack contains such items as confections, tobacco including cigars and cigarettes, stationery, shoe laces and sewing kits. Originally it contained 16 items. The latest revision, based on the recommendations of U.S. troops in Vietnam, has 24 components.

Commissary Outlets

There were two commissary stores in Vietnam and both were operated by the Army. One was located at Saigon, and the other one at Long Binh. Access to the stores was limited to personnel not having an organized dining facility in their area.


This stringent policy was implemented in 1968 to offset large numbers of patrons crowding into minimal facilities to purchase limited amounts of retail subsistence items. By restricting use of the facility to personnel not having access to dining facilities, it virtually eliminated military patrons, but did provide commissary service to civilian government employees, contractor personnel, press representatives and other non-military personnel.

Care and Disposition of Remains

Early in 1961 the Commander in Chief, Pacific directed the U. S. Air Force to provide service support for deceased military advisory personnel in South Vietnam. This support was rendered by mortuary personnel from Clark Air Force Base, Republic of the Philippines. However, in 1963 a U. S. Air Force Mortuary was established at Tan Son Nhut. Its service was expanded in 1965 to include support to Free World Military Assistance Forces.

Later in 1965, as a result of an Army study on future mortuary support requirements, the Commander in Chief, Pacific directed that the mortuary mission be transferred to U.S. Army Vietnam effective 1 July 1966.

The following table depicts the Army fatality workload experienced during the period 1961 thru 1970:

1961 - 3  1962 - 25 1963 - 72 1964 - 146
1965 - 1,081 1966 - 3,719 1967 - 6,443 1968 - 10,560 
1969 - 8,185 1970 - 4,906   Total - 35,140

As fatalities increased it became difficult to control Summary Court disposition of personal effects. So, on 1 September 1966, U.S. Army Vietnam activated the Personal Property Depot at Camp Red Ball as a Division of the U. S. Army Mortuary, Tan Son Nhut. This depot was responsible for receiving, screening and shipping personal effects to the person entitled to receive them.

Due to the increase in combat activity and fatalities of U. S. Forces in the I Corps area, a stand-by mortuary at the Da Nang Air Base was placed in operation on 20 June 1967. In May 1967, the existing mortuary facility at Tan Son Nhut was determined inadequate and Commander U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, directed a study to relocate it. As a result of the study, a new facility was constructed on the Air Base. The mortuary activity was relocated to the new facility on 11 September 1968; on 16 December 1968 the Personal Property Depot at Camp Red Ball was relocated to a newly constructed facility adjacent to the new mortuary.



Viet Cong activities taxed the capacity of both the Tan Son Nhut and Da Nang mortuaries during the Tet Offensive in February 1968. During this period, technical guidance and additional identification capability was provided through temporary duty of qualified civilian personnel from the Office Chief of Support Services, Department of the Army and off-shore mortuaries located in Japan and Thailand. Embalmer capability was increased through temporary assignment of in-country qualified and licensed enlisted personnel to assist the civilian morticians in preparation of remains. These two mortuaries processed 2,291 remains during that month which was possible only through the complete cooperation of the military and civilian personnel concerned.

A plan for conducting a search and recovery program for remains of deceased persons in Vietnam was initiated as early as November 1968 with in-country graves registration units providing personnel for assignment to support this effort. The program was designated Operation Compassion. A central file bank for missing and "body not recovered" personnel for all Services was established at Tan Son Nhut Mortuary in support of this operation and for use in conducting searches upon cessation of hostilities.

Plans eventually materialized in the activation of the joint Casualty Resolution Center located at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand and a Central Identification Laboratory, Camp Samesan, Thailand to conduct search, recovery and identification of remains in Southeast Asia.

Bath Services

The bath service support in Vietnam was provided to all U.S. and Free World Military Assistance Forces. During the early stages of the buildup most of the bath support was provided by fixed or improvised facilities. As the number of troops increased, Table of Organization and Equipment mobile bath units were introduced and were operating by June 1968. These units, augmented by fixed and improvised facilities, provided adequate hot and cold water shower support; however, most of the field expedient showers had to be operated using cold water only. Often most desirable locations for shower points could not be used for security reasons.

In December 1965, the total bath capability in South Vietnam consisted of 18 Table of Organization and Equipment mobile bath teams (with 8 shower heads each) having the combined capability of providing 126,000 showers per week-operating 16


hours per day (two 8 hour shifts). At that time all of the bath units were assigned to the 1st Logistical Command. The divisions and brigades contained no augmentations for bath units but received this support as required from supporting units of the 1st Logistical Command.

By July 1967, the bath service capability in the 1st Logistical Command had expanded to 60 bath teams, with a total of 69 authorized. These teams, working two 10-hour shifts per day, were capable of providing 420,000 showers per week. Troops billeted in urban areas had access to permanent shower facilities. Troops occupying base camps bathed in fixed showers which were constructed as part of the cantonment. When it was not possible to provide showers with mobile bath teams, collapsible canvas Austrailian shower buckets with a 5.87 gallon capacity provided additional capability. Decontamination teams equipped with a truck containing a tank and shower unit were also employed as the need arose. All of these fixed facilities were used to the maximum extent possible in order to free the mobile bath units for support to the forward areas (fire support bases and logistical support activities to which the combat soldier had access after combat operations).

Laundry and Dry Cleaning

Since almost all items of clothing and bedding used in Vietnam were made from materials that could be cleaned by laundering rather than dry cleaning, this portion will review the problems inherent in establishing laundry facilities.

In August 1965, mobile laundry units were requested to provide the additional requirements generated by the troop buildup. However, this request could not be filled due to a lack of equipment. During December 1965, there were fifty standard-B field laundry machines (two-trailer units) in the 1st Logistical Command. These units were capable of servicing only 3,075,000 pounds of laundry per month. The total requirement per month exceeded 7,000,000 pounds.

During the early stages of buildup all laundry service, except the small amount that could be handled by supporting units having mobile laundry equipment, was obtained from local nationals. Since there were very few local commercial firms that had any sizeable capability at that time and no Army-operated facilities, most of the laundry service was furnished by maids, houseboys, and post exchange concessionaires. Due to the wide dispersion of troops and as a matter of convenience, arrangements for


these services were generally handled by the individual or the unit desiring the service.

During fiscal year 1968 and fiscal year 1969 increased utilization was made of contract laundries because of commanders desires for pressed fatigues for troops in base camps. Although the Vietnamese contractors provided service below acceptable standards, their services were necessary to cover the large shortfall from organic laundry capabilities. The extent to which the U.S. Army depended on contract laundry is shown by the fact that in fiscal year 1969, production rose to a high of 12.8 million pounds per month at a cost averaging $855,000 per month.

The mobile laundry equipment situation began to improve in December 1966 when the first of the new Standard-A machines arrived in Vietnam. These machines were mounted on single trailers and greatly increased the mobility of laundry units. By July 1967, Standard-A machines comprised 45 percent of the laundry equipment in country. During this period, however, only 22 percent of the required 18 million pounds of laundry per month was processed by field laundry units. Physical and tactical limitations, shortages of Standard-A machines, and inherent limitations of field laundries all contributed to the laundry support problem. The shortfall was resolved by reliance on local nationals, concessionnaires and contractors.

In August 1967, there were 115 Standard-A laundry machines in-country with a capability of laundering only 25 percent of the total requirement. From November 1967 through January 1968, additional new Standard-A machines arrived in Vietnam bringing the total to 127 machines. Production from these and an undetermined number of Standard-B machines totaled 11.8 million pounds or an average of 3.9 million pounds per month for this period. During 1968 and 1969 the Standard-B machines were completely phased out of the system. The production rate for field laundries during this period ranged from a low of 2.4 million pounds per month to a high of 4.2 million pounds per month, which was achieved in June 1969.

As the buildup continued additional laundry units were assigned and by June 1968 mobile facilities were established. During this same period local commercial laundries were being placed under contract to handle the workload which exceeded the capability of the mobile facilities operated by the Army. The available mobile units had the capability to process only about half of the total laundry requirement, and this was limited to washing and rough drying.


Therefore, these units were employed primarily in support of medical facilities, isolated units, combat task forces, and in areas where there were large concentrations of troops and a sizeable workload of organizational type items.

As the troop buildup continued, it became apparent that the laundry services could be provided more economically by fixed facilities operating under the staff supervision of the Army. Plans were formulated for construction of ten laundries and sites were selected.

Eight of the ten fixed laundries programmed for construction in fiscal year 1969 were cancelled. The cancellation resulted from a study in 1968 based on the factor of low priorities for this type of construction and lack of need for fixed laundries due to reduction of forces in South Vietnam. The remaining two were approved and programmed by U.S. Army Vietnam for construction in fiscal year 1971 at Long Binh and Cam Ranh Bay. Due to further reductions of our forces in Vietnam, these two were never built, and the US Army continued to rely on contract laundries, with no fixed laundries in the Republic of Vietnam.


The clothing issue-in-kind system of supply (provided for in CTA 50-901) was placed in effect in Vietnam on 1 November 1965. After that time, enlisted men were deployed there with the minimum quantities of items of the uniform. Relatively high value clothing items were recovered through turn-in and subsequently rehabilitated for reissue. Clothing items that were not turned in, and those not required in Vietnam, were placed in storage at home or government storage to be recovered and used by the individual on his return from Vietnam.

In March 1966, the 1st Logistical Command established an Army clothing sales store in Saigon. (Prior to that time a joint clothing sales store was operated there by the Navy.) The initial stockage of this store consisted of clothing items for both male and female personnel; but, due to the limited demand for items of female clothing, these items were discontinued from stockage in October 1967. After this time, female military personnel obtained their items of the uniform by mail order from military clothing sales stores located in Japan and Okinawa. Initially, cash sales at the Saigon sales store averaged $60,000 per month. However, after officers and warrant officers were included in issue-in-kind under the provisions of CTA 50-901, the sales volume decreased to $13,000 per month (in fiscal year 1970) .

Property Disposal

The Property Disposal Operation was a function of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, until 1 February 1966. It was then passed to U.S. Army Vietnam, and in turn to the 1st Logistical Command. During the early years, property disposal operations were hampered by the lack of trained military personnel. This is understandable since there were very few operational spaces for property disposal officer personnel anywhere in the world prior to the buildup in Vietnam. Traditionally, property disposal operations only generate high interest at or near the end of armed conflicts; during other periods it is usually assigned a low priority, perhaps because of its position at the rail end of the life cycle of materiel.

Personnel shortages were evident and in 1968 actions were taken to overcome them. Additionally, resident and nonresident courses were established by the U. S. Army Logistics Management Center at Fort Lee for property disposal personnel. Resident courses consisted of the Defense Advanced Disposal Management Seminar, Defense Disposal Executive Development Seminar, and the Defense Disposal Management Seminar.

A mobile instructor team was organized and conducted onsite courses. Additionally, the Quartermaster School conducted special property disposal courses for officers, enlisted men, and civilian employees assigned to the property disposal program. Personnel assigned to the disposal operation in Vietnam in 1966 and 1970 are compared in the table below:


Category FY 1966 FY 1970
Officers and Warrant Officers     3     35
Enlisted Men     16     577
Department of the Army Civilians     3     15
Local Nationals     126     267
Total     148     894

Disposal operations were hampered by lack of an early country-to-country agreement. Such an agreement should have been consummated at the ambassadorial level early or before the buildup started specifying how the U.S. Army would conduct property disposal operations. An essential element would have been a stipulation that the host country would have no control over U.S. property sold for export. A country-to-country agreement was


signed on 9 November 1968 but had this been accomplished earlier, a considerable number of delays would have been eliminated and a more efficient property disposal operation would have been established. Buyers were discouraged from bidding on property offered for sale because of difficulties in obtaining host country customs clearances, a lack of labor, a slowness of host government bureaus in processing buyer requests for export licenses, a shortage of shipping, and long delays in awaiting berthing space. Simply stated, many arduous and difficult problem areas were encountered by representatives of the business community when conducting business affairs in a combat environment.

The inventories of property disposal yards greatly increased during the enemy's Tet offensive of February 1968 and his offensive again in May 1968. The increase was due to two factors. First, a great deal of equipment was damaged or destroyed during this period and was added to the inventory. Second, buyers were unable to remove property from property disposal office yards on a timely basis as a result of increased harassment by the enemy. These inventories were not reduced to a manageable level until early 1969.

The quantities of property received and the quantities disposed of during the period fiscal year 1968-1971 are shown in Table 12. Also shown are the quantities on hand at the end of each of those fiscal years. There was a large increase in the quantity of scrap received during fiscal year 1970. There were several reasons for the increase. Scales were not available in the property dis-


Fiscal Year Usable Property (in millions of dollars Scrap (in thousands of tons)
Received Disposed Of On Hand At End Of FY Received Disposed Of On Hand At End Of FY
1968     96     78     31     80     37     61
1969     84     90     25     74     99     36
        (1.6)             (1.7)       
1970     102     72     55     487     122     401
1971     117     136     36     162     303     260
        (2.3)             (6.3)       
Totals     399     376         848 608    




posal yards to weigh the scrap as it was unloaded. An estimate was made regarding the weight which normally resulted in less weight being recorded than was actually unloaded. Also the property disposal office yard dropped scrap from their records when a contract was signed by a buyer rather than waiting until the buyer removed the scrap by a specified time, as prescribed in property disposal regulations. After this contract was invalidated, the scrap in many cases was not again picked up on property disposal office records. During 1969, a concentrated effort was made at the direction of the Commanding General, 1st Logistical Command to bring all the property disposal office records up to date. This resulted in a sizeable increase in the quantity recorded. Finally, the phase down of U.S. Army Vietnam resulted in marked increases in the amount on hand in the property disposal facilities.

With the introduction of weighing scales in fiscal year 1970, the guesswork surrounding scrap inventories was eliminated and severe peaks and valleys were brought under control. However, downward adjustments continued for approximately a year thereafter because buyers under term contract were reaching bare ground prior to fulfillment of contracts which were based on earlier inventory estimates.

The property disposal operation, an element of the 1st Logistical Command, was assigned to the Property Disposal Agency on 18 August 1970. The mission of the agency was to supervise the development and implementation of policies, directives, and regulations pertaining to receipt, control, issue, and sales of Department of Defense, non-Department of Defense, U.S. Federal Agencies, Free World Military Assistance Forces, and Military Assistance Program excesses, and U.S. Forces generated and salvage material. The Property Disposal Agency was a culmination of efforts to enhance property disposal capabilities through improved equipment and increased personnel allocation.

Military Assistance Program Excesses

Because of the large volume of excesses being generated and sent to property disposal areas in the Pacific Command area, a special procedure was developed to make maximum use of these assets by the Military Assistance Program. Military Assistance Program Excesses covers procedures for the transfer of items, both major and secondary, from Pacific Command property disposal offices to Pacific Command Military Assistance Program recipients. A feature of this program is the policy that recipients will move


matériel and perform necessary rebuild at their own expense to the extent feasible, thereby saving Military Assistance Program accessorial and rebuild funds. By visual inspection of material in property disposal offices and by review of listings of available items, Military Assistance Advisory Group and recipient country personnel determine items which are appropriate to fill a valid programmed requirement. A message forwarded to Commander in Chief Pacific by a Military Assistance Advisory Group requesting approval of the Military Assistance Program Excesses transfer starts the process. Commander in Chief Pacific reviews this request to determine that items are of a category normally supplied thru the Military Assistance Program and that a valid program requirement exists. Upon approval, the Property Disposal Office, Military Assistance Advisory Group, Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Military Department are advised, and the transfer of the materiel effected. Table 13 displays quantities of property moved from Pacific Command Property Disposal offices under Military Assistance Program Excesses during a portion of 1969 through calendar year 1970, and also displays removals from January through March 1971. These quantities include removals from the entire Pacific Command area, but a majority was from Property Disposal office facilities in Vietnam.


Pacific Command Military Assistance Program Recipient Countries Period During Which Property Was Removed From Pacific Command Property Disposal Offices
Part of Calendar Year 1969 and All of Calendar Year 1970 January 1971 through March 1971
Taiwan     $31,149,212     $ 9,638,090
Korea     16,400,728     7,406,000
Philippines     1,615,808     468,799
Cambodia     --     2,567,809
Indonesia     --     373,368
Totals     $49,165,748     $20,454,066

Medical Support

In the Vietnamese and Korean conflicts 2.5 percent of U.S. personnel who were wounded and reached a medical treatment facility died. This represented a sizeable improvement over the percentages of World War II (4.5 percent), World War I (8.1 percent) and the Civil War (17 percent). However emphasis should


be placed on the fact that these percentages represent only the percentages of wounded personnel who died after reaching medical treatment facilities. In the Vietnamese conflict a far greater percentage of wounded personnel reached these facilities alive than during any prior conflict. This was primarily due to the use of helicopter ambulances. These aerial ambulances were able to rapidly evacuate casualties wounded to such a degree that death would have resulted in prior wars before the evacuee could reach a medical treatment facility.

Medical service in Vietnam was as complete as that found anywhere in the world. It included not only medical evacuation and hospitalization but also medical supply and maintenance, preventive medicine, dental, veterinary and medical laboratory services, medical intelligence, and medical research and development activities.

Initially medical support was organic to the 1st Logistical Command mission. As the buildup progressed and the magnitude of the medical mission increased, responsibility for the medical function was transferred to the 44th Medical Brigade upon its arrival in Vietnam on 1 May 1966. At this time the 44th Medical Brigade was assigned to the 1st Logistical Command; but in August 1967 because of the increased medical mission, the 44th Medical Brigade was reassigned to Headquarters, U.S. Army Vietnam. In 1970, the 44th Medical Brigade and the Surgeons Office, Headquarters U.S. Army Vietnam were consolidated and designated the Medical Command.

As our troop buildup began, medical units of all types were phased in along with the tactical and logistical units they supported. Completely equipped hospitals staffed with well-trained specialists were soon located throughout Vietnam.

Cross-servicing, whereby one Service cares for the sick and wounded of another was used extensively. Navy hospital ships located off the coast of Vietnam were included in this operation. Aerial evacuation was used to transfer patients to these "floating hospitals." Service hospitals were so located that by 1968 any casualty evacuated by helicopter was within 30 minutes flying time of a hospital capable of providing definitive surgical care.

Stability of hospitals permitted semipermanent and in some cases permanent construction. Preoperative, operative, postoperative and other intensive care areas were air-conditioned. In addition to well constructed facilities, several of the surgical hospitals were equipped with the newly developed Medical Unit, Self Contained, Transportable. This is a system of shelters and


equipment designed to provide the required medical surgical capability for patient care in the field under a wide range of environmental conditions, and it represents a vast improvement over tent hospitals of the past. Modules can be combined to form any desired field facility, or treatment facility, and can be transported by CH-54 helicopters; although they are normally transported by fixed wing aircraft. After the arrival of the first Army Medical Department air ambulance unit in 1962, medical helicopter operations, called DUST OFF, evacuated large numbers of military and civilian patients. Table 14 shows the number of patients moved by these air ambulances through 1970.


Year Patients*
Prior to 1965  12,000
1965   11,000
1966  65,000
1967  94,000
1968  208,000
1969  241,000
1970  197,871
Total Air Ambulance     828,871
Hoist Patients 1969 (est)     4,188
1970     4,428
Total including Hoist Patients     837,487

*Each time a patient is moved by helicopter, he is counted again. A significant number of the above evacuees are civilians.

The courage and dedication of the air evacuation crews and medical teams was laudable. They continuously went into areas under fire and their casualty rates were high.

Military Assistance Command Vietnam established a 30-day evacuation policy and endeavored to keep 40 percent of hospital beds empty at all times to take care of sudden surges of casualties that occurred from time to time.

During the period 1 January 1965 through 30 April 1971, 83 percent of the admissions to U.S. Army Medical Treatment Facilities were due to disease and non-battle injury. Seventeen percent were due to wounds.

Five groups of diseases accounted for the majority (65 percent) of the admissions for disease. These were malaria, fevers of unknown origin, respiratory ailments, skin problems, and diarrheal diseases. Malaria was exceeded only by wounds and non-battle injuries as a cause of mandays lost from duty.

"Combat casualties" consisted of those personnel wounded as


well as those killed in action. During the period January 1965 through 30 April 1971, 15 out of each 100 combat casualties fell in the killed category and 85 were wounded. Of the 85 wounded, two died after reaching a medical treatment facility and 83 lived.

The Army Medical Service also provided medical support to Free World Assistance Forces in Vietnam. In addition, assistance was given to the Vietnamese military and civilian populations through various medical programs. U. S. military hospitals admitted and treated sick, wounded, and injured Vietnamese civilians on an emergency basis from the first.

Medical supplies were handled through medical depots and hospitals. This was separate from the supply system for other supplies. This organization produced a customer oriented logistics system that was responsive to the needs of the patient and provided sufficient quantities of supplies for professional use.

The 32d Medical Depot managed the in-country inventory for medical matériel. Upon arrival in Vietnam in October 1965, it was assigned to the 1st Logistical Command. On 1 May 1966 it became a subordinate element of the 44th Medical Brigade. The 32d Medical Depot submitted requisitions to the U. S. Army Medical Depot, Ryukyu Islands. That depot either filled them or passed them directly to the U.S. Army Medical Material Agency in Continental U.S. located at Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. The requisitions submitted to Continental U.S. by-passed the U.S. Army Pacific Inventory Control Point, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. The 32d Medical Depot consisted of a base depot at Cam Ranh Bay and, as requirements for support developed, advance depots were established at Long Binh, Qui Nhon, Chu Lai, and Phu Bai. Each depot performed an area distribution mission through which issues were made to combat divisions, hospitals, Free World Military Assistance Forces, and other Services based upon inter-service support agreements. With the help of NCR automatic data processing equipment, the 32d Medical Depot managed a $15 million on-hand inventory and maintained a 45 to 60 day level of medical supplies. (A more detailed Medical discussion will be found in the Medical Monograph.)

Unique Support Missions

Riverine Forces

This type of operation was reminiscent of campaigns during the Civil War when the U.S. Army conducted riverine operations along the James and Mississippi Rivers and in southern swamps.


This type of warfare was also used on Mindanao in the Philippines during World War II.

The initial Mobile Riverine Force, created in 1967, was composed of an Army Infantry brigade and a Navy Task Force integrated at each level of command. This composite force operated as a complete package, independent of fixed support bases. This type of force offered flexibility and greatly increased our operational capability in areas previously inaccessible to our forces.

Logistic support for these forces was established at Vung Tau. U.S. Navy LST and Army landing craft were used to carry the major part of resupply cargo to Dong Tam, which was the major base camp for riverine operations. Throughout the delta operation, transportation boat units (medium and heavy) played a major direct support role. Infantry troops were billeted aboard U.S. Navy barracks ships and were carried to combat by helicopter airlift and armored landing craft.

Existing Army and Navy supply procedures were found to be adaptable to riverine operations. A few problems developed in using equipment immersed at times in briny or dirty water, but the command emphasis placed on preventive maintenance during these operations helped to relieve these problems. Riverine operations were a good example of interservice rapport.

Support of XXIV Corps in I Corps

Prior to the 1968 Tet offensive, the predominant U.S. land forces employed in I Corps were U.S. Marines supported by U.S. Naval Support Activity, Da Nang. Prior to November 1967, the U.S. Army maintained support activities on a small scale at Da Nang for Army troops in I Corps. The number of troops was not sufficient to establish command headquarters as such, but our support activities maintained Army personnel in I Corps, in conjunction with the U.S. Naval Support Activity. The rapid influx of U.S. Army land forces during the Tet offensive required and equally rapid and extensive buildup of logistic forces and materiel. The requirement for an Army tactical headquarters to be established for the I Corps became apparent and the XXIV Corps came into being. Interim arrangements were used, as the Army established supporting facilities, in addition to the ones already there which received supplies from either Army or Navy sources. Eventually redeployment of Marines from I Corps and the phasing out of the U.S. Naval Support Activity, Da Nang caused detailed planning to begin in preparation for the U.S. Army to assume support responsibility for this Corps. A target date of


July 1970 was established. This action was the first of its kind anywhere in an active theater of operations. While other Army elements in Vietnam were reducing their scope of operations in line with the announced withdrawal policy, the logistic mission of the Army in I Corps was expanded.

Despite the problems generated by a lack of knowledge on the part of both Army and Navy personnel as to terminology and organization, the rapport achieved and maintained throughout the takeover, planning, and execution was probably the single most important contributing factor to its overall success.


Picture - Goer 8-Ton Cargo Carrier, All-Terrain, All-Weather Amphibious Cargo Vehicle

Goer 8-Ton Cargo Carrier, All-Terrain, All-weather Amphibious Cargo Vehicle, Above; Goer 8-Ton Cargo Carrier Proceeding Cross-country Through Swampy Area, Below.

Picture - Goer 8-Ton Cargo Carrier Proceeding Cross-Country Through Swampy Area


Picture - CH-47 Chinook Helicopter Brings In Sling Load Of Artillery Ammunition During Operation Bolling

CH-47 Chinook Helicopter Brings In Sling Load Of Artillery Ammunition During Operation Bolling, Above; Air Delivery By  Flying Crane Of Ammunition And Artillery Piece, Below.

Picture - Air Delivery By  Flying Crane Of Ammunition And Artillery Piece


Picture - Delong Pier Complex At Vung Tau With View Of Rock Causeway And Sand Fill To Be Used For Hardstand

DeLong Pier Complex At Vung Tau With View Of Rock Causeway And Sand Fill To Be Used For Hardstand, Above; Use Of  Sea-Land Vans For Transportation Of Ammunition, Below.

Picture - Use Of  Sea-Land Vans For Transportation Of Ammunition


Picture - Unloading Of Sea-Land Vans By Crane Of Cargo Ship At Cam Ranh Bay

Unloading Of Sea-Land Vans By Crane Of Cargo Ship At Cam Ranh Bay


Picture - Off-Loading Of Sea-Land Vans By Use Of Gantry Crane At Cam Ranh Bay

Off-Loading Of Sea-Land Vans By Use Of Gantry Crane At Cam Ranh Bay, Above; Civilian Contractor Han Jin Trucks Waiting To Be Unloaded, Below. 

Picture - Civilian Contractor Han Jin Trucks Waiting To Be Unloaded


Picture - Army Vessel LTC John U.D. Page Tied Up At South Beach, Cam Ranh Bay

Army Vessel LTC John U.D. Page Tied Up At South Beach, Cam Ranh Bay


Picture - USS Corpus Christi Utilized As A Floating Aircraft Maintenance Facility Anchored Off Coast At Vung Tau

USS Corpus Christi Utilized As A Floating Aircraft Maintenance Facility Anchored Off Coast At Vung Tau, Arove; Aerial View Of Vietnam Railway Service Repair Crews Clearing Right Of Way And Installing New Track, Below. 

Picture - Aerial View Of Vietnam Railway Service Repair Crews Clearing Right Of Way And Installing New Track


Picture - Use Of CONEX Container

Use Of CONEX Container, Above; Loading Laundry Into Dryer At Cam Ranh Bay, Below.

Picture - Loading Laundry Into Dryer At Cam Ranh Bay


Picture - Maintenance Personnel Removing Engine From 5-Ton Truck For Repair

Maintenance Personnel Removing Engine From 5-Ton Truck For Repair, Above; Use Of  Maintenance Vans in A Motor Pool Operation, Below.

Picture - Use Of  Maintenance Vans in A Motor Pool Operation


Picture - Operation Of Rome Plows In Clearing Trees And Undergrowth From Areas In Vietnam

Operation Of Rome Plows In Clearing Trees And Undergrowth From Areas In Vietnam, Above; Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) Escorts Barge Loaded With Rock, Fuel, Steel Girders And Other Items On The Vam Co Tay River, Below.

Picture - Landing Craft Mechanized (LCM) Escorts Barge Loaded With Rock, Fuel, Steel Girders And Other Items On The Vam Co Tay River


Picture - Flying Crane Lifts 175mm Gun At Vung Tau

Flying Crane Lifts 175mm Gun At Vung Tau


page created 2 January 2003

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