249th General Hospital, Camp Drake, Japan

Topics of a general nature that relate to anything to do with the 6th Battalion 31st Infantry that served in Vietnam.
pointman
Sustaining Member
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:00 pm

249th General Hospital, Camp Drake, Japan

Postby pointman » Mon Jan 07, 2008 9:28 pm

After I left the 6/31st, I went to the 1st Air Cav and was subsequently wounded on point. After a couple weeks in the 3rd Field Hospital in Tan Son Nhut, I was evacuated to the 249th General Hospital, Camp Drake, Japan. I spent about a month there before being shipped stateside. I was one of the last through the 249th, I believe. Soon after patients were shipped directly back to the US, and the 249th closed. I came in and left Japan through Zama, another hospital in Japan.

I mentioned the latter, because there was a surgeon, Ronald Glasser, who served at Zama in 1968, and would later write a book, "365 Days" about Nam patients at Zama. I considered it the best book I ever read about Vietnam, though interestingly, Glasser was never in Vietnam. It is about a lot of things, but it is about suffering and death too, if you think you might have a problem with that.

Anyway, I have recently been in communication with Harold Dixon who served at Camp Drake in 1968 in communications. He was kind enought to send some photos of the place, now weeds and a broken fence. Not much of a trace of what went on there. Thought perhaps some of the other wounded might have been through there and remembered it. Harold was kind enough to allow me to post his pictures.

John
Attachments
Mt Fuji from Barracks wk.jpg
I came in to Camp Drake by chopper and saw Mt Fuji from the air.
Hueys & Patients.jpg
Landing Zone
Cp Drake LZ.jpg
Landing Zone
jodon
Sustaining Member
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 11, 2002 1:44 pm

Postby jodon » Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:16 am

I was there to. In the large open infected wound ward. My bed was right by a door where they took guys for salt water baths to clean their wounds. Steady non-stop ear splitting screams from everyone they took in there. Thank god, for me they used irrigation. That means they just washed the infected exposed bones 4 times a day and it didn't hurt much. They were remodling the ward also when I was there and the dust and dirt from their drilling and wallboard cutting would fill the air and get into our wounds. That was the good old days before people really cared about the treatment our war wounded get, instead expecting us to "suck it up" . Makes me sick to think of the young guys today having to live with the terrible wounds they get. sick and pissed off
pointman
Sustaining Member
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:00 pm

249th

Postby pointman » Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:29 am

These pictures were before my days there; Harold Dixon just went back to Japan recently and was going to take another look. I was there in November 1970, about a month, and through Thanksgiving. There was one male nurse who came through, we called him "the scrubber", because he believed in getting the wound deep down clean. We really hated it when he showed up. The doctors were sympathetic, but their answer was always, "patients don't get infections when he's on duty."

The rest of the story; on Thanksgiving, anyone on his ward who was walking and willing, he loaded up and took over to his house for a real Thanksgiving dinner with him and his wife... I couldn't walk yet, so missed out. I still cringed in fear when he walked on the ward, but thought a lot more of him after that.

jhb
jodon
Sustaining Member
Posts: 133
Joined: Sat May 11, 2002 1:44 pm

Camp Drake

Postby jodon » Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:34 pm

I'll never forget the Puerto Rican guy in the bed next to mine. He had half his leg gone. The toughest part of that was it was done lengthwise. He had all his bone and muscle and other inards of his leg exposed from heel to hip. He spent all day fighting a losing battle to keep the flies off. They gave him a flyswatter to help but even then it took his constant attention. He was afraid to go to sleep and would try to stay awake as long as possible because he knew the flies would be on him the moment he dozed off.
On the other side I had a guy with a massive head wound. swathed in badages you couldn't see much. He had a few times a day treatments that took fluid out of his head. The sucking sound of that used to make me sick. There was talk that his parents had been informed that he was missing as they didn't know what to tell them about this hopeless case. He was a vegetable and those that had to treat him mumbled curses at the doctors that had kept him alive. One day he quietly died alone and everyone was relieved.
pointman
Sustaining Member
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:00 pm

Drake

Postby pointman » Wed Jun 04, 2008 8:17 pm

I wouldn't wish a hospital on anyone, but can't complain about my own treatment, believing I got the best there was, considering the times and places. I would have hated to been the people who had to work there everyday and see it coming endlessly.

I was lucky that I had a gunshot wound, which is better than a lot of wounds. Also, after I left the platoon, they walked into a machine gun. Thought after, that getting stuck in various hospitals for six months wasn't so bad, considering . Had I still been with the platoon, I might have gotten a life sentence. Who knows.
User avatar
Niner Alpha
Site Admin
Posts: 3709
Joined: Sun May 05, 2002 7:48 pm
Location: Alabama

I remember the day Joe was wounded about like yesterday

Postby Niner Alpha » Wed Jun 04, 2008 9:00 pm

I was the acting FO. Olsen was the CO. We were inserted by boat and were to sweep forward to a road where trucks were to pick us up. We hadn't gotten far before the CO says to me that a mine field was ahead and wanted arty to try to minimize the risk. I called the battery but no answer. Seems they had changed push in the last hour and hadn't informed me.

Through the infantry battalion I got the right push and called them for a fire mission. HE, fuse delay to try to explode some of the mines. The answer came back that friendly villagers close by and denied. Contact only allowed. Where we were was tall grass just after we got off the boat and a treeline ahead of us. We didn't see any village.

We started walking because the battalion commander said to hurry up. I followed my RTO and tried to get them to get the battery to get a change in call in order to get permission to fire. I walked behind my RTO because it worked better with the cord. Usually I walked in front of my RTO.

The point man and maybe a couple of guys and then the CO went through a ditch at the edge of where the trees started of what might have been a pineapple patch at some time. Trees and brush on the other side of the ditch. Joe was going up the far bank behind Olsen and my RTO was just starting down the near bank and me behind him on the radio.

Joe knelt down on a mine as he started to climb out near the top of the bank. Did major damage to his knee and wounded him in the groin. My RTO took some pieces of the mine in the face but not serious.

The medic tried to keep Joe from going into shock. Joe was worried about his family jewels instead of shock...which the medic assured him were still where they should be.

A medivac came in. I helped load Joe into it. My RTO got on and offered me his rifle. I told him to keep it. If the chopper had a problem and went down I figured, if it were me, I'd want to be armed.

The chopper lifted off and we contined on a hundred yards or so and the trees and brush opened up to a paddy and there was a vietnamese with a water buffalo plowing and houses beyond. We continued on to the road.

The next day there was a directive that was sent down instructing that if there were any dustoffs that personel dusted off shouldn't be allowed to take weapons along since the hosptal didn't want to deal with them.

Some months later when the 6/31st was in the last weeks we went back to the same location. I had a new RTO then named Bell. It was raining. We only found tu dia signs. I remember something was wrong with me. I felt chills and covered up in a poncho and kept it on after the rain slackened and about that time the new RTO said something about it....and I said..."guess I'm just a pussy" but I hadn't suffered anything like what Joe and John did.

There is a photo that I took for no partiuclar reason as we went in the day Joe was wounded. Shows Joe and my RTO Delgato as they moved out from the place we held up long enough to learn the first reply to the arty request. Joe ahead of Delgato. Joe was hurt minutes later as of course was Delgato to a much lesser degree. Delgato returned from the hospital but went back to the 2/4t and Delta battery.

Joe was injured because we played by the rules...protect the locals that we were trying to save from communism.....which they didn't know any more about than we did.
Attachments
ScanImage001.jpg
Joe Donnelly in the lead. Joe Delgato behind him.
User avatar
philt
Sustaining Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2006 5:39 pm
Location: Washington, Missouri

Postby philt » Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:45 am

I was in some hospital in Japan, but I have no idea the name of it. I remember that they left my wounds open. They told me that it healed better from the inside out. They did surgery on them and closed them up stateside. I was in a ward with several amputees and several severe open wound patients. They would clean the wounds with the salt solution and I would cringe at the screams. One guy in a bed next to me bent the bars on his headboard from the pain. I felt like I should have gotten up and danced a jig compare to what was wrong with the other guys. Another guy had a VC kid blow a claymore on him and blew half of each leg (length wise) and most of his feet off. I had a broken leg and a broken arm from shrapnel and they put me in a wheelchair with one leg on a board straight out in front of me and one arm tied up to a prop which held it up in the air. They told me that I was ambulatory so I needed to get myself to the mess hall for chow. So I learned to spin my chair around backwards and use my good foot to scoot down the halls.
When I was ready to ship home, they loaded us on a plane on those stretchers that were basically 2 sticks and a canvas, and stacked us about 4 high. I remember being thankful being on the top one. We flew from Japan to Alaska to refuel. We were there for about 2 hours and the patients that weren't on stretchers got to de-plane. They brought us back snow balls! From there we flew on to Scott Air Force Base outside of St. Louis in Illinois. My parents lived about 60 miles away, so they drove over to see me. The next morning they flew me out to Ft. Riley, Kansas to finish up my hospital time and to have the necessary surgery.
What an experience!
Phil
pointman
Sustaining Member
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:00 pm

post card

Postby pointman » Sun Jun 08, 2008 8:00 pm

Postcard I got at the 249th, late November - early December, 1970.
Attachments
post card.jpg
pointman
Sustaining Member
Posts: 145
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2005 6:00 pm

1970_11_26

Postby pointman » Mon Jun 09, 2008 1:37 pm

I had trouble eating at the time, but can't say they didn't try to give us a descent Thanksgiving dinner on the ward.
Attachments
249th menu-1.jpg
249th menu-2.jpg
User avatar
Niner Alpha
Site Admin
Posts: 3709
Joined: Sun May 05, 2002 7:48 pm
Location: Alabama

Now thats interesting

Postby Niner Alpha » Mon Jun 09, 2008 2:10 pm

I never was wounded...but I was never in a hospital where the food lived up to the discription on the menu in the civilian world. I can only imagine what the Army hospital food must have been like.

But...for a military hospital..."smoked ham sauteed in beer" with Dejon mustard seems pretty much a culinary work of imagination. Of course, under the circumstances, guys probably wouldn't have noticed all that much what it tasted like anyway.

John's menu from his time in the hospital:
Attachments
menutg.jpg
User avatar
Niner Alpha
Site Admin
Posts: 3709
Joined: Sun May 05, 2002 7:48 pm
Location: Alabama

Re: 249th General Hospital, Camp Drake, Japan

Postby Niner Alpha » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:04 am

This string crossed my mind a few minutes ago. Got this email from Albert Moore. He included the menu on the Benewah at Thanksgiving 1967. We weren't there...but shows the menu that look pretty traditional.


Thanksgiving Day Dinner USS Benewah APB-35

1967.






Turkey Noodle Soup w/Crackers

Roast Turkey w/ Dressing & Baked Smoked Ham

Cranberry Sauce

Cornbread Dressing w/ Giblet Gravy

Mashed Snowflake Potatoes

Candies Sweet Potatoes

Buttered Green Peas

Tossed Salad W/ Dressing

Assorted Breads & Butter

Pumpkin Pie & Apple Pie

Ice Cream

Iced Tea, Coffee, Milk, Kool Aid

Chilled Fruit Cocktail

Mixed Nuts Hard Candy



Anchored at Dong Tam RVN
JaroldF
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon May 01, 2017 8:18 am

Re: 249th General Hospital, Camp Drake, Japan

Postby JaroldF » Mon May 08, 2017 12:00 am

Great read pointman, that picture of Mt Fuji is amazing. Brings back memories.
Mailman249
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:29 pm

Re: 249th General Hospital, Camp Drake, Japan

Postby Mailman249 » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:52 pm

Thanks for the memories. I was stationed at the 249th (1970-1972). If any of you received MAIL during this time I may have handed it to you. Hope all is well with you.

Return to “Vietnam Open Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest