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Third Field Hospital

I note from Google Earth the area where the hospital used to be. It looks very different – probably no longer a building of importance. I lived in a place called Hotel Columbia – a couple of blocks from the hospital at what was then called 100 pee Alley.

One thing I noted while taking the tour with Google earth is how developed and clean the city looks. I was always impressed with the people, and even more so after taking the Deja Vu tours. What a great peice of work to compile and blend the video.

I recently learned of the death of a dear good Doctor who worked at 3rd Field, as I attempted to share this site with him. Missed him by about 30 days, and I know he would have loved the Deja Vu tour.

I have fond thoughts of my time in the city, and will take them with me when I go. Wish you all well, and if someone spent time at Third Field in 1969, I’d love to hear from them.

George Baggett

40 comments to Third Field Hospital

  • Admin

    Hello George – Thanks for stopping by and visiting our Blog. I’m glad you enjoyed the videos. I’m sorry to learn of the good doctor’s passing.

    Our old school which later became the Third Field Hospital is now “The War Remnants Museum” operated by the Vietnamese government. There are a few pictures of 3rd Field from the ’60s and 70s in the “Photo Gallery”, along with a picture of what it looks like today as The War Remnants Museum. [Photo Gallery link is on the Menu. You’ll need to Register to login to it.]

    Several of our Saigon Kids’ parents were doctors or medical personnel in Viet-nam. And, many Saigon Kids returned to Viet-nam after completing school as military or government personnel. Perhaps you’ll bump into someone here that you knew during your time in Viet-nam.

    By the way, there are a few people that visit our Blog often who either worked at 3rd Field or spent time there as a patient.

    Bob

  • Bruce Thomas

    In the fall of 2002, a Vietnam-era Huey helicopter touched down on the campus green of Kennesaw State University, where I teach in post-retirement. Its visit had been mentioned in the Atlanta newspaper as part of a Texas-based film project (“In the Shadow of the Blade”) that was documenting the memories of Vietnam veterans about the venerable workhorse of the war. When the Huey had landed, I was one of many curious people who inspected the aircraft and spoke with the crew. Only sometime later did I read, in the Atlanta newspaper and online, about another visitor that day, former Army nurse Captain Donna Rowe, and her story that helped me to remember that the American Community School buildings in Saigon (where I’d spent the 10th grade in 1960-61) had later become the Army’s Third Field Hospital. (I had discovered Third Field Hospital was on the ACS site when, in 1969, I drove by it in a Jeep during my later service with the Army.)

    So this comment is not about ACS per se, but is a story that involves Third Field Hospital and the compassionate nature of the personnel who later occupied the buildings on that site. Further, it’s another heartwarming example of the power of the Internet to reunite people decades later who had despaired of ever being reunited. Enjoy, but have a few tissues nearby, as you learn about Baby Kathleen.

    Begin by reading: http://www.vietnamexp.com/newsletter/volume2_issues/vol2issue5.htm

    Then continue with: http://www.vietnamexp.com/Shadow/media_coverage/american_statesman.htm

    Especially for those who served in the military in Vietnam, the words of Army nurse Donna Rowe speak to the powerful message contained in the story of the rescue of Baby Kathleen and the care she received at Third Field Hospital: “So, when they called us baby killers, this story proves otherwise.”

    Bruce

    • Admin

      Bruce – Great comments. Personally, I’m PROUD to have learned that our old school buildings were put to EXCELLENT use as 3rd Field after our school was closed.

      For those of you who don’t know it – George has written a wonderful book. I’ll be Posting about it in a few days. He has also been kind enough to share some pictures from an AWESOME collection he has of 3rd Field and Saigon vintage 1969. They’ll be appearing on our Blog soon.

      Bob

    • It’s Memorial Day 2011. With several thousand others, I’ll attend the service of music and speeches on the grounds of City Hall in Roswell, Georgia. The keynote speaker today is to be Donna Rowe, head triage nurse at 3rd Field Hospital when it occupied the ACS buildings, and godmother to Baby Kathleen (see my note above). In my mind’s eye I’ll also see my three high school classmates (from the two high schools I attended after ACS), all of them infantry platoon leaders, who died leading their troops in battle … less than one year after each of them graduated from college … from University of Texas, University of Tennessee, and West Point. I wish they could have had the benefits of 3rd Field Hospital, but all of their deaths were sudden and violent. RIP Jack, Ray, and Frank. You are remembered by many, and not just on this Memorial Day.

  • Ken

    I was once told by a nurse who had been assigned to the 3rd field hospital in our old school that there was a Gecko in a glass case in the administration section of the hospital. I wonder if it’s still there as part of the war museum now.

  • George Baggett

    There were many good things that happened at 3rd Field Hospital. I have often heard the question if I was in the field or did I have soft duty? Compared to the 25th Infantry and running through the jungles, the answer is it was softer, but in 1969 Saigon had its dangers, and working 12 hour shifts and sometimes around the clock at 3rd Field was no picnic. We referred to the facility as the “Walter Reed of the Orient,” and considering we had a kidney dialysis unit to deal with traumatically wounded in renal failure meant we cared for the most seriously wounded in Vietnam. I remember periods when doctors and nurses rarely left the hospital, and after a 12-hour shift in the Renal Unit, I and many others helped in the Triage area when the flow was heavy. This is not to say there weren’t moments when we partied and had fun. One of my big regrets is to have left when I did, without making a list of names and addresses. I came alone and left alone, and when I got home suddenly realized I had no way to contact some of the greatest people I had ever met. Now, I’m 61 and had a heart attack last year. Dr. Daniel Macken died last month, and who knows where the wind scattered us.

  • Kenneth R. Yeager

    This isn’t about the hospital but a comment on the comments made by George Baggett. It is a terrible shame that I, too, failed to maintain contact with my 12th CAG buddies during my Army tour in Vietnam. I can say the same about my college friends and, of course, my SKs. That is why this site is so damn important to me. When I think of SKs that I knew back in the ‘60’s, I see their 17, 18, 19 year old faces, not the grandmotherly or grandfatherly folks that they have become. I wish so much to be able to contact all of my friends and buddies from those wonderful times (well, school wasn’t so great, but you know what I mean).

    Still I had a lot of laughs in that old school and kissed some beautiful girls. No regrets there.

  • George Baggett

    If you look at the pictures I’ve posted, you’ll see only a few of the people. I’ll post more as I get time to scan them – these will be of the Renal unit and the people who worked there. Sad to say, I can’t remember all the names after 40 years.

    • David Price

      I’m about 2/3rds of the way through “Youth in Asia. I’ve read many books on Vietnam, but not one was as well written as yours. I’m enjoying it immensely.You mentioned that you posted pictures. Where can I find them.

      (I realize this message is somewhat disjointed, but I’m writing as I remember things including the wonderful care and adventure I had in Saigon) Thanks for an excellent read. Btw, I was a patient at 3rd Field Hospital (Vivax malaria) near the end of 1970. As an aside, did you know a “Candy Striper” named Renee Anderson? I kind of fell in love with her. I managed to go awol and she took me around Saigon including having lunch at the Cercle Sportif.

      • David – George Baggett’s photos are located in the *Photo Gallery*. Look on left side menu area of this page, scroll down to Photo Gallery and click on the link. It will take you to the Photo Gallery log in page. If you’ve not previously registered you’ll first need to in order to Login.

        Bob

  • Thomas Johnson

    I served at the 3rd Field Hospital from Fall of 1965 to Spring 1966 as Chaplain’s Assistant. Have many pictures. Anyone there at that time? Anyone remember Chaplain Hanley?
    Tom J

    • Wayne Knupp

      I served as an O.R. Tech at 3rd Field Hospital January 1966 – January 1967. I recognized many of your pics.
      I am currently in Saigon for 1st time since on short business trip. I am going to try to visit old site tomorrow on way to airport.
      I will send new pics if successful and some originals when I return to US
      Wayne Knupp

    • Sp4 Andrew Slone

      I was with the 561st Ambulance Co out of Long Binh. We sransported patients From the Rice Mill and other Field Med Hospitals to the Third Field Hospital. I stayed in the Hospital there for 3 days with food poison. Now Retired working on my Vietnam Story. How can I find my Vietnam Records during my tour in Vietnam. Contact me on Facebook. Thanks Andrew Slone 2090 Corn Fork Rd Prestonsburg ky USAR MSG Retird.

  • George Baggett

    My time at 3rd Field was 1969. It may seem funny, but after publishing my book, “Youth In Asia,” some of my personal issues and dreams about Vietnam suddenly went to the bookshelf, and I’ve been concentrating on the hear and now.

    I did call Dr. Stone – a wonderful man who worked in the hospital and then went on to serve in the VA. He seemed shocked that I reached out 40 years later, but we had a brief and heart-felt visit about the passing of Dr. Macken.

    As I review the list of wonderful people I knew, I’m curious about how they might react to the person I’ve become. A twenty-one and unsophisticated guy has become so very different and circumspect.

    However, like most, Saigon Kids or Veterans, our brush with the Saigon experience changed us all in significant ways. We look at the world and cultures differently than many who never left the safety-net of the US. We know things that others haven’t a clue about, and if I can generalize a bit, we frequently take those paths less traveled.

    For myself, I remain somewhat outside the population of the US. It is easier to live this way, as when I’m immersed into the population I always hope my silence does not betray my lack of interest in the trite and petty.

    As I look at our current wars, the recent “finding” of valuable natural resources in Afghanistan has opened my eyes to a continued method of world planning – not for the inhabitants, but for those who have an ulterior motive. The redundant experience with the rationale for wars is most revealed in the NYTs story about the site of the ancient Buddhas, purposely destroyed before our phase of the war. Artifacts that were not destroyed are in jeopardy as mining interests hope to “develop” the area for copper and other riches. Why are we told about these findings at this juncture?

    I see the answer as having to do with the issue of the former rationale for staying in Afghanistan is evaporating. Now, we must appeal to the greed of our nation’s corporations and to those who assume there is some sort of ownership defined by such discoveries. Though this clears the fog of our war, it cannot be other than disappointing to realize the same game is in play.

  • George Baggett

    Since my post above, I note Iran is donating to Hamid Karzai. Is it possible one of the natural resources keeping US troops in this location could be uranium?

  • Tony Vetuschi

    I was a patient at the 3rd. field hospital starting around the 15th. or so of Feb. 1966 until some time in April. I remember when the two nurses died in the helicoptor crash and I seem to remember a Catholic Chaplain from Newark, NJ. I remember his name as Father Fagiani, I was originally from Newark NJ. We were from the same neighborhood. Did I remember the name right, I know when I came to from surgery he was holding my hand and praying.

    • Thomas Johnson

      Yes, you remember right. The Catholic Chaplain’s name was Father Fagiani. I was the Protestant Chaplain’s assistant at that time. I was at the 3rd Field Hospital for about 5 months with Father Fagiani.
      Thomas Johnson

  • George Baggett

    Tony,
    I recall hearing about the crash you wrote about. We also had another similar crash in 1969, where a number of people were badly burned and one patient came to our renal ward with 3rd degree burns over 50% of his body. There was not chance of survival, but we made his last few days as comforting as possible.

    As a non-Christian, and somewhat anti-war during my tour I did befriend a Chaplin at 3rd Field, mainly for intellectual discourse. I don’t remember a Catholic being there. I recall a Lutheran from Wisconsin.

    If you had surgery, then you were likely housed temporarily on the first floor surgical ward. My unit was above the mess hall and on the second floor of the only two-story building housing patients. It was the building furthest from the Republic Street Main entrance and down the long hall.

    Regarding the chopper that went down in 1969, I helped remove burned victims, and when I grabbed a guy under his arms I burned my hands slightly from the heat of his skin. It is not one of my favorite memories, but it happened.

    This Veteran’s day I’ve been doing my typical behavior of finding something else to do rather than participate in any event acknowledging my service. I recall returning at a time when no one really wanted to know about the war. These days remind me of that time as most people are not greatly affected by our current wars, and the topic has changed to nonsense and cheaper 40″ LCD TVs.

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  • Tony Vetuschi

    I was on the first floor surgical ward for a while, things are not all that clear but I was there for some time. After being discharged from the hospital I came back within a week or two because of an infection, I remember I was throwing up green foamy stuff that tasted horrible. At that time I was put in I think it was isolation, it was on the second floor I remember. One evening Ann Margaret came to give a show and a couple guys from my unit had heard about it I guess, they came out to visit me and carried me and my cot out to the walkway and I watched the show laying on my side looking thru the railings. I beleive it to have been oposite the surgical ward and up one flight.
    I also remember some nice nurses and a pretty nice medic who cared for me in surgical unit. Wish I could remember names but 1966 was a long time ago, the preist I am pretty sure about because he wanted to hear my confession and I was a pain in the ass and wouldn’t do it for some reason and he nick named me his little weasle. Still I liked him and we got along well.

  • Thomas Johnson

    Ann Margaret was with the Bob Hope show that visited the 3rd Field Hospital during Christmas of 1965.

  • Thomas Johnson

    I just read George Baggett’s comment about 100 pee alley. We had several soldiers end up in the hospital because of 100 pee alley.

    • Jim Novak

      I was there at the same time also. I had Dengue Fever and she came by my bed. I was stationed at HHD 1st Log Command in 1965. Just up the street. Great to read your info.

  • George Baggett

    I lived at the Columbia with a gate that opened to 100 pee alley. I often joked about the children of prostitutes that hawked for their mothers, and in retrospect there was nothing funny about it. War has a tendency of creating “support” for troops that enhances a black economy by providing the services demanded by youthful and naive’ soldiers. Living at the Columbia and walking through the crowds of children every day, I began to recognize them on a daily basis. Unlike the transit patrons, I was a medic with access to antiseptics, bandages, and some limited medications. It started rather innocently, when I noticed a swollen knee from an infection, and knew I could not bring a 6-year old to 3rd Field. I cleaned, drained and bandaged a wound, which quickly healed. The mother learned of this and offered her services, but having treated many who had developed a “touch” of VD, I refrained.

    If you read my book, you will note I became enamored by the Vietnamese people whom I came in contact with. I found the women incredibly beautiful, and yet I also found them to be fully aware of their servitude and limits, much as we see today how slaves felt about relations with “the master.” One of my favorite pictures is of a small woman who was the maid that took care of my clothes and room. Mia had three children, was about 30, worn by hard work and poverty, but she was extremely wonderful to me as soon as she realized I had respect for her dignity.

    One of my favorite stories of that time was when I had a tailor make a Black Silk Vietnam Jacket for me. The day must have been 105 in the shade, and when I picked it up at the shop just outside 100 pee alley, I wore it for the short walk to the Columbia. My cadre of children who I cared for were all running around with very few clothes on, and upon seeing me with a heavy jacket were greatly amused. To make it more hyperbolic I acted as if I were cold. This set a tone for the remainder of my days in Saigon, and has stayed with me as I deal with my grandchildren – they never are quite sure if I’m being straight or kidding them.

    Despite the rationale for being at that war I despised, that time living near the hospital and among the people, mostly poor people, has stayed with me over the now 40 years since I walked the alley. From these poor people and Mia, I learned about poverty and the other social ills of living in a land of desperate people surviving with a touch of anarchy. The disguise was simple – look like everyone else, and you could think anything you wanted. America is moving in this direction, so I look like everyone else, but my thoughts are mine.

  • Paul Conley

    I need some help! I was a patient at Third Field Hospital for a day, about the 15th of April, 1967, the same day I meet former Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who was making a visit to the Third Field Hospital! My visit was prompted by a early morning attack on our 3/4 Ton Truck shortly after 0600 hours around the traffic circle on the road to Binh Loi Bridge! My unit of assignment was the 525 MI Group located near the Binh Loi Bridge! The problem is that my SF 558, Emergency Care and Treatment, never reached my personnel section! I was on my unit morning report on the 17th April 1967, as on light duty due to injuries! The 525 MI Group received direct medical support from Third Field, so where do I look for personnel receiving medical support for this period! Any help will help!

  • George Baggett

    It is a sunny/snowy packed day in Kansas City – with the promise of serious melting as the temperatures are going near 60.

    I am pleased by recent developments of a plan for a reunion of 3rd Field staff to be held in Chicago this September. Pictures of staff and patients I did not post on the Kids site for fear of them being out-of-place are finding a home with a Google Group of 3rd Field pictures. These have little to do with Kids, and more to do with those who were staff, and from my limited exposure to the “Kids” it would be a shame to have the 3rd Field commandeer the site.

    However, let it be known that the Kids site has been a great help to me in dealing with my experience and allowing me to share.

    I don’t know why events in Egypt have me thinking of Vietnam. It is with great hope the revolution of the people will not be usurped by elite forces, but we all know they are more than ready to pull the rug. The Internet has provided tools there were not available during previous upheavals, and if wisdom can prevail there may be a chance that efforts by the world manipulators will be futile.

    If justice prevails, the transition of nations of their need of support from the US may change significantly. The people may not need tanks and F-16s, but want bricks, steel and mortar to build their community. We are seeing this transition in Latin America, and yet one or two puppets seem to be able to keep violence alive.

    Time will tell.

    • George – That’s awesome that 3FH is planning a reunion this year. If you, or some of the other 3FH folks who visit this site, can provide me with links to 3FH websites, reunion sites, etc. I’d be more than happy to link to them from this site so that as new 3FH people find this site they can find information to reconnect with other 3FH folks.

      Bob

  • Larry Loree

    I was a 91B20 Combat medic stationed at 3rd Field Hospital from May 1966 -May 1967 and served in a number of capacities, including working on the wards and going on numerous MEDCAPS into villages and hamlets, winning the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people (as we were told. The bottom line is that I have many good, as well as many bad memories at the 3rd Field Hospital, but among the good, I remember the dedicated nurses, including Nurse Shirley, Nurse Keyes, and a few of them who accompanied us on MEDCAP missions, especially Lt. Scherrer from Iowa, sometimes in very remote villages harassed by VC because of US presence. These nurses desire the CMOH for their dedication to duty. I have pictures of some of them on our MEDCAPS. Please inquire, if you are interested.

    Please contact me with any questions, concerning 3rd Field Hospital at ironpadre [@] gmail.com

    SP/4 Larry K. Loree US Army.

  • Trice Domenici Hyer

    I was a nurse at the 3rd Field Hospital from 1970-1971. I may have taken care of some of you. I remember your faces, especially when we sing about the heroes in the third verse of America the Beautiful. I felt privileged to wash you, change your dressings, and giv you pain medications (not enough). You are my Heroes.

    • Gregory Heinlein

      Trice: I remember you so well. My buddy Bill Stuski and I were assigned to B Troop 3/17 Air Cav of the 1st Avn Bde. We were wounded on April 18, 1970 and were medevaced to the 3rd Field Hospital that afternoon from Tan An. We were operated on by Major Copeland with a DPC that day, and sewn up a week later. You were so sweet and nice, and I so appreciate your willingness to serve.

      I hope life has been good to you and that this finds you well.

      best regards,
      Greg Heinlein

    • David Price

      Trice, did you ever work in the malaria unit? If so, I might have known you.

  • Hello Bob, thank you for inviting us to link to our reunion information.
    Ed Russell, Reunion Committee, 3rdFH (1968-1969) Information is as follows:

    ———————————————–
    Name: 3RD FLD HOSPITAL-VIETNAM, 2011 REUNION
    Website: http://3field.rmhcn.org/

    Comments
    SEE WEBSITE: http://3field.rmhcn.org/
    Reunion to be held September 9-10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. ALL VIETNAM ERA MEMBERS AND PATIENTS 3rd and 51st Field Hospital, US Army Hospital-Saigon, 9th MED LAB, 561st Ambulance, 629th Renal and all other attached and detached unit members, and friends from the American Community School, Saigon invited. Please register at website.

    ————————————————

  • Dennis Gross

    Hello to all…..I was at the 3rd Field Hospital from Nov 1969 thru May 1970……I remember SFC Couch,MSgt Clark and Capt Rosemary Kennedy from the ER….I ran into MSgt Clark after i left Vietnam at Ft Sam Houston….would really like to make cobtact with Capt. kennedy…I thought she was one of the best nurses ever……i came to the 3rd Field from the 57th Med Det (Dustoff) and after an extension with the 25th Infantry Div….any help would be greatly appreciated

    Dennis Gross

  • Donna Underwood

    My husband was a medic at the 3rd field hospital in 1971. I am hoping to reconnect him with some of the people he knew there.

  • George Baggett

    Sorry to say I did not attend the reunion, but I did setup a Google group for pictures.
    3rdfieldpictures [@] googlegroups.com

    If any of you want to visit the site of the many pictures posted, just apply and I’ll accept your membership as soon as I can.

    As most folks know, there were those of us who questioned the war and were never planning a career with the Army, and another group of folks who were planning a 20-year stint. One of the major frictions as these two factions worked together was the dogma about the war, primarily from the history of the Dulles brothers and Henry Cabbot Lodge. Those who believed in dominoes were at odds with those who were critical of continued colonialism.

    In March 2011 I gave a lecture on this topic, and then foolishly posted my comments on the site noted above. I started receiving hate-mail accusing me of being anti-American, so the idea of connecting with and spending time with these critics caused me to not want to attend the reunion. I went to a Bluegrass Festival instead.

    Regardless, I maintained the picture site for the group, and only now explain my absence. For me, having overcome some personal issues with the experience and attempting to recall the good parts of being at 3rd Field, I found I had no patience to return to any level of arguing about history – especially from those who were not well read on the topic.

  • Frank

    Is there a list of names of those that died at the Third Field Hospital?

  • Darryl Henley

    Frank: Your question dtd 10/5/12
    I was in the Registrar’s office at 3FH for 18 months. Every day at midnight, we produced the Admissions and Dispositions report or A&D Report. It contained the names of every patient who was admitted, discharged, transferred or deceased during that 24 hours. It also contained their unit, race, religion, rank, SN, and lots of other information. Copies were sent to every unit in country, and every command all the way up to DA and the SGO. If you could find where those reports are filed, if they’re still available, I suppose you would be able to find every patient who died at 3FH.

  • BrianHjort

    Hi

    I had an picture of an member of 3rd field Hospital staff, he served from 1968-70, I try to locate him, can anyone help

    Brian

  • david price

    I was at 3rd FH some time in November 70 with malaria. I met a “candy striper” as they were called named Renee Anderson. Anyone know anything about her?

  • Sp4 Andrew Slone

    I was with the 561st ambulance company at long binh. We transferred patients from field hospitals to the 3rd field hospital. I was also in the hospital for 3 days in fall of 66 with food poisoning. Anyone with info on war records from 1965-66, please contact me at andrew slone, 2090 corn fork Road, Prestonsburg, ky 41653

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