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American Community School – The Missing Link

While researching and writing about the history of our American Community School the trail of information got a bit grey after the 1965 evacuation. About the only information available was the school buildings got hurriedly converted into an Army hospital – Third Field Hospital. Written and pictorial information was limited other then from a military point of view. This left a missing link – a void – of a time gap between when the school shut down until the compound became The War Remnants Museum, as it remains today.

Fortunately, we have been blessed with the appearance on our Blog of George Baggett who was assigned to the 3rd Field Hospital in 1969 at the tender young age of 21. George spent about one year at 3rd Field. During this time he was “touched” by old Saigon and Viet-nam, just as most of us  Saigon Kids had been ‘touched’ during our short stay.

George lives with is family in the Kansas City area. He stumbled on our Blog while searching the Internet for information about 3rd Field – hoping to be able to connect with people who spent time there. If you spent time at 3rd Field or no of people who did, George would very much like to connect with you.

George has a collection of about 100 pictures taken during 1969 of our old school buildings after they where converted to 3rd Field, along with many pictures of the Saigon area. He has been gracious enough to share them with us by creating an Album in our Photo Gallery. To view them login to the Photo Gallery click on ‘Saigon Kids Galleries” then look under “George Baggett”. So far he has uploaded 46 pictures and still has more coming.

Click Here to Login to the Photo Gallery.

If you have not previously ‘Registered’ on the Photo Gallery – Click Here to Register – before you attempt to Login.

I think it is very kind of George to take the time and effort to share his pictures and comments with us about the heritage of our school.

Personally, I feel very proud and honored to know those hallowed halls of our beloved school where, in many ways, we were molded into what we became in later life, were put to such a worthy use and cause – healing the sick and saving lives. Just as those concrete buildings with there tiled floors lead many of us into the future with new beginnings … those who were treated at 3rd Field left with a new lease on life … to new beginnings and a better future.

With the information George has given us our school’s history is now complete from it’s humble beginnings as a temple of knowledge and education – to a temple of healing giving new life – to a museum symbolizing … Peace is always a better path then war.

Be sure to visit the Tu Do Street Book Store for “Youth In Asia” – the book that George wrote.

George, again, thank you for your contribution to our group and all you’ve shared with us – we are very glad you found us and welcome you to remain a part of our ‘family’ of Saigon Kids.

As always, you are welcome to leave your comments below.

Bob

3 comments to American Community School – The Missing Link

  • Mike Erickson

    There’s another rather bizarre, independent source that confirms the conversion of the Amercian Community School to the Third Field Hospital. The Borden Institute of the U.S. Army Medical Department contains, among its resources, chapters from a book entitled: Urology In The Vietnam War: Casualty Management and Lessons Learned. Chapter 1 of that book (warning: the chapter is available at the Borden Institute and contains some graphic medical pictures)contains the following information:

    “The 3rd Field Hospital, Saigon, provided a high level of expertise for in-country evacuations for sophisticated medical care (Figure 1-7. a,b). The 3rd Field Hospital, which had an illustrious history of service in the South Pacific during World War II and the Korean War, was reactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington, on 11 March 1965 to provide medical support for the rapidly expanding US commitment for the Vietnam War. Initially, the 100-bed unit from the 51st Field Hospital supplied the nucleus of the 3rd Field Hospital. The personnel left Fort Lewis, Washington, on 23 April 1965, traveling in 2 sections on MATS C-119 aircraft to Tan Son Nhut. The buildings of the American Community School, Saigon, were to be converted into an indoor hospital. Elevated hospital beds were procured from the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Medical Depot; typewriters from the American Embassy; and desks, bookcases, and other school equipment from the American Community School were used. On 12 May 1965, the 3rd Field Hospital was declared operational by General Norton, the commanding general of the 4th Command.”

    • Admin

      Thanks, Mike!

      I’ll add this the Tu Do Street Book Store, as soon as I get a chance.

      I have – someplace on my computer – a copy of the story about the guy who was contracted with to actually do the conversion of the school to the hospital. He was known all over Asia as a veryyyyyyyy shady character with little if any ethics – but, he had the “contacts” throughout Asia to “Get Things Done” – FAST – which is why his services were retained for the conversion project. I have it on my list of things to Post on our Blog in the future. It is a very interesting read about how this guy pulled off some of the things he did to complete a rapid conversion of the school into the hospital – he was a ‘black marketeer” of the highest degree!! – LOL. The way I understand it, he could do things the U.S. Government and Military couldn’t (legally anyway) to get the job done. I find it a bit interesting how the U.S. Government spent years, before and after, the conversion chasing this guy around attempting to put him out of business, yet, when they needed someone to do the ‘dirty work’ – they contracted with him – LOL.

      Bob

  • Mike Erickson

    Bob,

    To continue the historical thread up to the Fall of Saigon, you might be interested to know that the Third Field Army Hospital eventually became the Saigon Adventist Hospital. I was a patient there (broken leg)and still have my hospital identification card. There is an article about the Saigon Adventist Hosptal in the magazine Spectrum. The article is available at this link: CLICK HERE

    [Mike – Thanks! This is a great article and well worth the read. And, certainly helps to complete the history of ACS. Also, has a nice picture of the old ACS buildings. I think I can even see one of my old classrooms in it – LOL – Bob ]

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