Bellefonte, Pennsylvania - United States Army
After graduating from Bellefonte High School in 1962, I went on to Northwestern University for undergraduate and Medical school. After one year of internship in Cincinnati, I arrived in Vietnam in September 1971. I was assigned to the 31st Combat Engineers Battalion at Long Binh, northeast of Saigon. The combat engineers were a unique unit in that it had medics plus its own medical officer.
Our battalion had companies building bridges, clearing jungle and ran a carpenter shop. It was quite a cultural shock from being a surgical intern at Cincinnati General Hospital to a captain with 30 medics working for me. The doctor whom I replaced had begun supporting a Vietnamese orphanage about 30 miles away. The children in the orphanage had mostly American G.I. fathers, and as a result, a very limited future in Vietnamese society. Every other week we loaded up the F.L.A. jeep with supplies – medicines, bandages, soap and food, and would hold a clinic for any of the children for whom the nuns had a concern. When we left Vietnam (stood down) in 1972, I took everything not on our TOA (table of organization) list, which the nuns could possibly use or sell to meet the children's ongoing needs. These efforts were only a highlight of my Vietnam experience.