The World War II Combat Medic

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The Combat Medics Badge

Last updated July 12th 2003..."The WWII Medical Department" and "WWII Medical Items For Sale" pages updated.

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Web Site Award

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Presented by the American Military Medical Impressions, Inc. Please visit their fine web site at:

AMERICAN MILITARY MEDICAL IMPRESSION, INC.

Please pick a category:

History of WWII Medicine
Equipment of a WWII Combat Medic
Personal Accounts of WWII Medics
WWII Medical Items For Sale
WWII Medical Detachment
WWII African American Medics

The WWII Navy Corpsman

WWII Medic Helmets and Markings

WWII Medical Kits & Miscellaneous Medical Equipment

WWII Medical Tentage and Related Parts

Army Ambulances of WWII

The intention of this web site is to honor all the brave men and women who supported the life saving aspect of war. The study of army medicine is so vast that it would be hard to cover all aspects in a single website.

The inspiration for this website came to me after viewing the movie, "Saving Private Ryan". Anyone who has seen this movie cannot easily forget the death scene of Medic Wade.

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As stated by Stephen Ambrose, "It was the universal opinion of the frontline infantry that the medics were the bravest of all".

SOME OF MY FAVORITE WEB SITE LINKS

King & Country

At the Front

International Military Antiques Inc.

Militaria- Military Marketplace

Welcome to RZM.com- Your online source for WWII books & more!

Jerry's Military Collectibles

Texas Military Forces Museum

Preserve History

Stan Wolcott’s Lucky Forward Militaria:

B & L Collectibles

eBay - Your Personal Trading Community

.US ARMY Medals and Awards Page.

US Military Combined Service Uniform Decorations

The Unofficial Tommy Gun Page

Research Page for Collectors of Lee-Enfield Rifles

Militaria International

Military Collectibles

Larry Stone Books & Collectibles

P & K Military Antiques

Fulton Armory

Lost Battalions Homepage

Military Transport Association of Northern New Jersey

MVPA ONLINE

World War Two Impressions. A virtual showroom of WWII U.S. uniform reproductions.

Notched Dog Tags

Reenacting World War II

Military Personnel Records - NPRC(MPR)

What Price Glory

COMBAT! Home Page

Welcome To The 83rd Infantry Division Re-Enactment Group Online

Replicas and Models

Jon's Swords

134th Infantry Regiment Home Page

Band Of Brothers : A site dedicated to Medic Eugene Roe

USMC &  USN Reenactors Association

33rd Signal Construction Battalion

Strictly G.I. WWII US ARMY RE ENACTMENT ASSOCIATION

Norman D Landing US Militaria

TheTroubleshooters.com Home

The Crile Archives and Center for History Education

45th Infantry Division WWII Reenacting Group and Living History Venture Crew

752nd Tank Battalion in WWII

World War II-Research &Reenacting

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The following books are a excellent read on the WWII combat medic and WWII medicine

Fighting For Life - American Military Medicine in World War II by Albert E. Cowdrey

Combat Medic by Isadore Valenti

Combat Surgeon - On Iwo Jima with the 27th Marines by James S Vedder

Combat Medic Memoirs  - Personal World War Ii Writings and Pictures by Richard L. Sanner

V-Mail - Letters of a World War II Combat Medic by Sarah Winston

The German Army Medical Corps in WWII by Alex Buchner

All of the above books can be ordered from

Amazon.com--Books, Music, Video & More

The Military Bookman Military Books Military History

Second World War Books, News $ Informationl

Please feel free to email me with any comments, corrections or constructive criticism. I want to keep the information in this website as accurate as possible.


 

               

This website is dedicated to the brave men of the World War II Medical Corps and Naval Hospital Corps who risked and many times gave their lives in the aid of a wounded or sick comrade. The intention of this website is to share information on the history, equipment and combat experiences of the World War II combat medic

    "Few people are aware of the personal sacrifices the aid men went through. We were not strangers with the platoon we served with, everyone was a comrade.  And unlike the other members of the platoon who can't stop to aid a wounded buddy, have no idea how it tears the aid man apart to witness one of his buddies wounded and helpless. We eat, sleep,  laugh, and yes even cry with these comrades,  we become a family, and  like any family, death effects us all. But more so because it is the aid man who remains with the wounded, until he can stabilize the wounds and have him delivered to batt. aid station. I can never describe the feeling you get when you see your closest  friend dead from his wounds, and knowing that you were unable to save his life. But it has one advantage,  you learn not to become to close to anyone, because the pain is to deep when it was a friend who had died. You have to remove every emotion in your body, or end up a raving madman. No one can ever understand that unless they themselves lived it. In every war history book you read, there is never a description of what the aid man truly feels, and you never will. That is why I have chosen to give a detail account of the pain and sorrow that the aid man lives with every single moment of the day.  It isn't the acts of the aid man that becomes important  but rather the inner pain that he carries within himself. A pain he dare not show publicly, for to do so you risk the probability that others may see that pain, or (fear) which would demoralize the riflemen who puts their trust in your hands. I'm human and like all humans I'm born with fear,  but we can control that fear when faced with the realization that there are others who depend on you're ability to save their lives. I never considered myself a brave man.There wasn't a moment that I wasn't scared, but that's a disadvantage an aid man has to live with,  we either control it, or demand to be relieved of their duties. There is one thing I discovered in combat, the vast amount of soldiers can control that fear, While there are others who are to stupid, to understand the meaning of fear,  and they are the most dangerous, because in their drive to win medals and return a hero, they take risks  that eventually ends up getting someone else killed."---Albert Gentile, Aid-Man for Company B, 333rd Infantry, 84th Infantry Division, WWII.

Duties of a WWII Combat Medic

Brief History of the Medical Corps

The WWII Medical Department      

World War II and the Combat Medic

Evacuation of Wounded During World War II

The Function of a Field Hospital During WWII

The Function of a WWII Aid Station

Listing of WWII Hospitals

Camouflage of Medical Installations.

Medal of Honor Citations-Medical Personnel

Please remember all WWII Veterans and donate to the WWII National Memorial. For more information, please visit the organization's website:

The National World War II Memorial

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The combat medic was one of the unsung heroes of World War II. He lived with the front line infantrymen and was the first to answer a call for help. He gave first aid to his wounded comrades and helped them out of the line of enemy fire. More often than not, he faced the enemy unarmed and was the foundation of the medical system with hundreds of thousands of surgeons, nurses, scientists, and enlisted medics. (above painting by Lawrence Beall Smith in the U.S. Army Art Collection)

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Medics help a wounded medic in France, 1944

(National Archives, Washington D.C.)

If a wounded soldier was still alive when the medics got to him , he had an excellent chance of survival. The medics could do whatever was necessary to stabilize the wounded soldier. They could stop the bleeding, lessen the pain, bandage the wound and get him to the aid station.

 MEDIC!!....we have a man down and wounded!.. we need a MEDIC!!!...MEDIC!!!

Brief History of the Medical Corps

The Medical Service Corps traces its beginnings to the establishment of an Apothecary General during the American Revolution, and the creation of the Ambulance Corps and US Army Storekeepers in the Civil War. It was during the Civil War that Surgeon Jonathan Letterman, Director of the Army of the Potomac, realized a need for an integrated medical treatment and evacuation system with its own dedicated vehicles, organizations, facilities, and personnel. The Letterman plan was first implemented in September 1862 at the battle of Antietam, Maryland, and has continued as the basis of Army medical doctrine ever since.

    The next major development of the Medical Service Corps occurred in World War I. The Army’s requirement for medical and scientific specialty officers to support combat operations resulted in the creation of two temporary components: the US Army Ambulance Service established on 23 June 1917 as a descendent of the Ambulance Corps, and the Sanitary Corps, established on 30 June. Today the Medical Service Corps mirrors the Sanitary Corps, which quickly expanded to nearly 3,000 officers during World War I. The Sanitary Corps enabled the Medical Department to make available to itself a group of officers commissioned in specialties which were at the forefront of the medical technology of the day. Officer’s of the Sanitary Corps served in medical logistics, hospital administration, patient administration, resource management, x-ray, laboratory engineering, physical reconstruction, gas defense, and venereal disease control. They were dedicated members of the medical team that enabled American generals to concentrate on enemy threats and not epidemic threats.

   Between World War I and World War II. it became apparent that the Army needed a permanent source of medical administrative specialty officers. This led to the establishment of the Medical Administrative Corps in June 1920. The Medical Administrative Corps expanded to include a variety of administrative positions and freed the physicians, dentists, and veterinarians for medical care responsibilities. Following World War II, Congress established a permanent component in the Army for medical administrative and scientific specialty officers. On 4 August 1947, Congress created the Medical Service Corps. For the first time, the Medical Department had a permanent home for both its administrative and scientific specialty officers. Since 1947, U.S. military actions have demonstrated the efficiency of that decision. The Medical Service Corp have been important members of the U.S. military medical support team for combat operations in Korea, the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, and Iraq. The story of the Army’s operations in Vietnam would not be complete without mention of the magnificent record of the evacuation helicopter pilots, who carried on in the tradition begun in the Civil War. World War II and the Combat Medic

World War II and the Combat Medic

     It wasn’t any different to be killed in World War II then it was during the Civil War or World War I. However, if the World War II GI was wounded by a bullet, shrapnel or fallen by a disease such as malaria, without killing him, his chances for survival were much greater then his ancestor in the Civil War. During the Civil War, 50 percent or more of the men admitted to hospitals died, during World War I, it was 8 percent, World War II, 4 percent.

    During World War II drugs such as sulfa (Sulfanilamide) and penicillin were discovered and advanced surgical techniques were introduced to make these improvements possible, but the first reason for such successes in improving the mortality rate was the speed with which wounded men were treated. It began with the frontline combat medics. In the beginning of the war at training camps, medics had been mildly despised because many of them were conscientious objectors and often ridiculed. Sometimes called "Pill Pushers" or worse. But in combat they were loved, respected and admired. Medic Buddy Gianelloni recalls, ‘Overseas it becomes different. They called you medic and before you know it, it was Doc. I was 19 at the time."

The main objective of the medic was to get the wounded away from the front lines. Many times this involved the medic climbing out from the protection of his foxhole during shelling or into no-man’s-land to help a fallen comrade. Once with the wounded soldier, the medic would do a brief examination, evaluate the wound, apply a tourniquet if necessary, sometimes inject a vial of morphine, clean up the wound as best as possible and sprinkle sulfa powder on the wound followed by a bandage. Then he would drag or carry the patient out of harms way and to the rear. This was many times done under enemy fire or artillery shelling. In most cases, the Germans respected the Red Cross armband.

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Evacuation of Wounded During World War II

The evacuation process of the wounded during World War II is best described by Pfc. Keith Winston, a combat medic during WW2 for the 398th Infantry Regiment, 100th Infantry Division. He explains the evacuation process in a letter to his wife during the war;

   "You asked me to describe the exact function of the Aid Station. First let me tell you how evacuation works: A boy gets hurt on the line. Within a minute or less a telephone message is sent back to our forward Aid Station, a distance of 300 to l000 yards from the front where a Sgt. and 4 litter-bearers are always on hand. They rush right up to thc line with a litter. During this time, thc Company in which the casualty is a member, has their Aid-man administering first-aid on the spot—usually consisting of stopping the bleeding with Sulfanilamide powder, bandaging and giving wound pills internally. By that time, another litter team is there and carries the casualty to thc nearest point where a jeep can travel--anywhere from 25 to 3000 yards, depending on conditions. The injured boy is then rushed to the Aid Station, one to three miles behind the line. Here the physician removes the first-aid bandage, makes a proper diagnosis and applies a more permanent bandage, administers blood plasma if needed, and in severe cases, gives morphine; makes the patient comfortable, warm, gives coffee, etc. Whereupon he's rushed back to a point known as Clearing Company, pretty far in thc rear--this time by a comfortable ambulance which stands ready for action at thc Aid Station's door. Now--here, if the wound requires it, he's given emergency operation or attention. This place is well-staffed and well-equipped. Then the casualty is taken by ambulance to an Evacuation hospital further back where first-class attention is administered. If thc case is one whereby the wound or casualty is so severe and he won't get better very soon, he's shipped back even further to a General Hospital, and eventually back to the States. Reason for the continual moves? One of room. As the patient warrants a further move back, he leaves space for another boy, and needed room is of the essence. The Aid Station has no beds. Its job is the most important--to evacuate the wounded boy from place of incident to the rear, after essential treatment is administered to save his life. The well-equipped rear station the soldier and bandage him with the skill that is possible only in a quiet hospital".

Anyone  who attended, taught, or was stationed at Lawson General Hospital in Chamblee, Georgia during World War II and in particular attended the X-ray Technicians School and remembers Staff Sergent Fred W. Buch, please email me.

 

ALWAYS INTERESTED IN PURCHASING WWII MEDICAL ITEMS

Please email me with any comments mailto:dsteinert@optonline.net David Steinert © Copyright 2000