Saber Article Index

2012 Nov-Dec

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961

A noted passing is COL (Ret) Joseph W. ‘Doc’ McNaney, MD. Battalion commander of the 15th Medical Battalion and simultaneously served as the Division Surgeon in Vietnam in 1969-70.  Those of us who served in 15th MED during that time will remember him. "Doc" McNaney, who had been on the 1st Cav Association’s Board of Governors continuously since 1995, died on 29 September. A separate obituary is said to be published in this Saber issue.

The 1st Cav's, 7th Cav's, and U.S. Army's CSM Basil L. Plumley, it should be mentioned, has also just died. His example will be remembered, by those who knew him, or of him.

I got e-mail from Tony Oliveira who said, "Hi,  I was reading the SABER and i saw that a Roger Lemacks was looking for info about an operation on August 10,1966. I was wounded on that day and have spent the last forty-five years trying to track down my Medic, Doc Chilpka, who treated me. I can't get my Purple Heart without his statement.  I'm not even sure if i should be looking at my unit, Co. A 2-12 Cav, 2nd Platoon, Jan '66 to Jan '67. Or, should I be looking at the 15th Medical Battalion?  Any help would be greatly appreciated  Thank you.  (610)390-8088."

I told Tony, like I tell everyone else who contacts me like that, "A common misconception is that 15th MED controlled the Medics in the 1st Cav. Each unit was responsible for their own personnel. Each unit had a line roster and they had to fill it whether 11Bravos, Medics, cooks, commo, supply, etc., etc. The battalion aid station, which each battalion had, was headed by the Battalion Surgeon, an M.D.-usually a Cpt. His administrator would be an M.S. C. officer-Medical Service Corps-usually a lieutenant. The battalion roster would specify this with slots. They would be allotted so many Medics-91As, 91Bs, 91Cs, etc., just like the infantry would get 11As, 11Bs, and 11Cs. The Medics would be assigned accordingly, either to each line company-e.g. one to cover each platoon; or to work back in the aid station.

"The company roster should have the Medics listed. When I transferred out to the field, got wounded, and briefly had to go in, they listed  all the wounded on the Battalion Daily Journal as line numbers, but had my name as a 'Medic' so I never thought I had a line number with C 2-7 Cav because I was a Medic. At a recent C 2-7 Reunion one of the company commanders who came in company as I was leaving to DEROS, showed us a C 2-7 company roster and it had me on it with a line number. That surprised me."

Anyone looking for their 1st Cav Medics should pursue it in the same manner. I had even asked "Doc" McNaney once, just to confirm I was correct, and he gave no other indication. Try to find your company roster from someone who might have had one and kept it. Or, check with other sources, like the National Archives, unit Websites, etc. Murray Gibbs, Webmaster\Past President 2003-2006, 15th MED Association, MEDEVAC '67-'68 has posted on the 15th MED Assn. Website Newsletter, <http://www.15thmedassociation. com/Newsletters/Newsletter2012/Oct2012/Oct2012Newsletter.html>, that "The 2013 Registration Form has recently been e-mailed out the our members who have e-mail.  Norm Roberge is our Snail Mail Coordinator who will be sending out the 2013 Registration Form with an Invitation Letter.  This is the letter that is being sent out to those member without e-mail addresses: 'Greetings 15th MED Members; The 2013 Reunion will be in OLD Sacramento. The dates are Apr 17 – 21, 2013, Wednesday to Sunday.' The 2013 Reunion will be at Holiday Capitol Plaza, 300 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Phone:  (916)446-0100."

15th MED Assn. President Art Jacobs reminds, "Members, get involved. Even if it’s in a small way." He also mentions, "1. I am looking for those interested in running for the office of Junior Vice President. You’d have to succeed Leo 'Short-round' Williams in 2014, a hard act to follow, but you know you would rise to the occasion. Send me an e-mail and let’s talk, or, tell me whom you think should run. 2. If anyone believes that certain specific items, policies, procedures, rules, or guidelines should be incorporated into our new Constitution & By-Laws, you need to send those to me. The last thing we need at the Reunion is a lot of carping and grousing over what you may not agree to, or think is missing in the document, and yet you never took the time to contribute your ideas. 3. Jim is looking for volunteers to help on site with the Sacramento Reunion. There are lots of little support things that need to come together logistics-wise during any Reunion. Please, send Jim Calibro an e-mail and ask him how you can help."

James Calibro wrote: "I'm sure everyone would like to buy a copy of our book "The Conflict That Was a War; In Vietnam & At Home"-about veterans who open their locked inner self in order to tell what they experienced. Three chapters (one each) were written by Corky, Randy and yours truly. I got a sneak preview at the completed copy (proof copy) yesterday and it looks awesome. Linda has a personal copy coming from me.

"Randy submitted several photographs which were included (one photo is a picture of Mr. 'Marty' Walker (RIP) and Tom Grove checking a tail rotor. There were several photos of 15th MED Members included and several names mentioned in the book. I would like to see that Marty Walker's, Dave Fenstermacher's, and Larry Lance's families receive a copy.

"These books will be for sale at the Reunion in Old Sacramento. If purchased at the Reunion, a proceed will be donated for each book sold. The cost of the book will be marked down at the Reunion.

"The book normally sales for $18.99 each. We have already sold approximately three hundred, and are still taking orders and waiting for the first order to arrive about Oct 25, 2013.

"Each chapter has a different title. I (Calibro) wrote Chapter 4 titled, "So That Others May Live." Chapter 5 is written by Corky Walsh, "Flights For Life : More from MEDEVAC," and Randy Brewer, "More Helicopter Escapades." As indicated in the book..."These stories may be humorous, or it may be a sad story. There are a few cuss words, some blood and guts, as we recall."

Speaking of books, I received a paperback copy of John Brennan's "Vietnam War Helicopter Art: U.S. Army Rotor  Aircraft [should be rotary wing aircraft] (Stackpole Military Photo Series). I was expecting to see a 15th MED Air Ambulance Platoon MEDEVAC helicopter's nose art, but there is nothing. All U.S. Army Aeromedical Evacuation helicopters pictured are from other units, i.e. 44th Medical Brigade, DUSTOFF.

He does mention the difference between DUSTOFF and MEDEVAC-unarmed and armed; and as call signs. In Vietnam, MEDEVAC was exclusively 1st Cav. The 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile) had its 326th Medical Battalion form an air ambulance platoon known as "Eagle DUSTOFF" that was responsible for aeromedical evacuation of casualties in its area of operations. Not that they had any nose art, I see none pictured.

The 1st Cav had no MEDEVAC nose art that I know of-not their biggest priority-until CE Danny Smith started the trend naming his "suped-up" helicopter "SuperKing." I was the willing artist and also did gunner Tim Kirwan's suggested "Cheap Thrills" on Mike Vinyard's crewed helicopter. Crew chief John Hodges did his own "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" in military stencil.

Medic Bill Walsh remembers one, "'Cherry Buster had one of those decals from like a high performance muffler...sort of a cherry bomb with a tail on it." I've never seen that one.

I was surprised there are no 1st Cav MEDEVAC helicopters pictured, as much as John Brennan solicited us over the years. At least as far back 2008 he mentioned " I've documented six personalized names that were displayed on various 15th MED Bn. in-country aircraft: BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS, CHEAP THRILLS, FURGS AND BEANS, HELL'S UGLY, LITTLE VIC DONTARIA, NEW BLOOD, SWEAT & TEARS, TIJUANA TAXI." Otherwise, and besides the incorrect reference to rotary wing aircraft, the book well documents the subject of U.S. Army Vietnam War helicopter nose art.

Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70