Medical Battalion and Chaplains in Korea
By Lynn Montross
Historical Division Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps
Reprinted from the December 1952 issue of The Marine Corps Gazette
Reprinted with permission to The Korean War Educator
The helicopter fluttered down to Kimpo with two badly wounded Marines. One of them breathed with
difficulty after receiving a machine gun bullet through the chest, and the other was suffering from the
shock of mortar fragments in the abdomen.
Only an hour and a half before, both men had been engaged in the savage fight on the 5th Marines for the
northwest approaches to Seoul. They were evacuated from the firing line in an M-26 tank, after being taken
through the escape hatch. Corpsmen administered first aid and blood plasma at the battalion station, then
prepared the men for further evacuation in a “flying ambulance” holding two litters.
At the clearing station the Marine pilot looked on with concern as the patients were removed from the
helicopter to be taken to the emergency operating room. The faces of both were gray and haggard, as seen
through the Plexiglas hoods of the litters. Their hope of survival seemed slim, and the pilot might have
been astonished to learn that the mathematical chances were about 199 to one in favor of each patient coming
This estimate is based upon statistics of the 1st Medical Battalion during the Inchon-Seoul operation of
the 1st Marine Division from 15 September to 7 October 1950. During the three weeks, Companies A, B, and C
processed a total of 2,484 surgical patients. Of that number, only nine died after reaching the station, and
among them were six deaths following major surgery. The proportion of patients surviving after evacuation,
therefore, reached the figure of 99.43 per cent.
These surgical statistics cover the most critical cases, a majority of which were wounds. During the
Inchon-Seoul operation, however, the 1st Med Bn treated a grand total of 5,516 patients for all causes,
including ailments ranging from acute appendicitis down to such anticlimactic ills as piles, hernia,
sprains, and blisters. This total breaks down into the following categories: 2,811, Marine; 78, Navy; 358,
Army; 322, ROK and KMC; 1,908 civilian; and 39, POW.
Altogether, the results of the 1st Med Bn in Korea were enough to make Florence Nightingale turn
enviously in her grave. When that courageous fighter for surgical reforms arrived at the Crimea in 1855, the
death rate was forty-eight percent among British and French soldiers admitted to the foul holes passing as
hospitals. During her first year Miss Nightingale reduced the losses to less than ten percent, largely as a
result of insisting upon decent food and cleanliness.
Four more years were to pass before the Swiss humanitarian Henri Dumont, moved by the sufferings of the
neglected wounded at the battle of Solferino, wrote a book leading to the foundation of the International
Red Cross. The principle of adequate care for war’s victims, therefore, is less than a century old, having
lagged far behind the other military sciences.
Until the Civil War, this country, like less progressive nations, went little further than providing
bandages for the wounded and a bullet to bite during the agony of amputations without an anesthetic. It
might appear that generals and admirals would have demanded reforms on practical grounds, considering the
percentage of men lost to active service by wounds or diseases deemed trivial today. But this frightful
wastage was taken for granted until comparatively recent years, and Asiatic armies still rely on the
military surgery of past ages while fighting with the weapons of the twentieth century.
No issue finds the democratic nations and totalitarian powers further apart in ideological respects than
the value placed on human life. During World War II the Soviet forces accepted as a matter of course a ratio
of casualties that would not have been tolerated by a state respecting the rights of the individual. But
even in totalitarian Russia the state made every effort to restore the wounded individual to active duty if
he could be salvaged by modern medical science. The Korean and Chinese Reds, on the contrary, have not shown
much practical solicitude for their casualties, let alone humanitarian concern. As a result, the world’s
highest ethics of military medical care have been pitted in Korea against the lowest, and it remains to be
seen whether the enemy’s policy can be justified even on materialistic grounds.
Humanitarian values come first with the American forces, but it is noteworthy that the division hospital
of the 1st Med Bn set a record of sending fifty-eight per cent of its Inchon-Seoul casualties back to their
units for further duty. And though no comparable statistics are available for the enemy, Red operations in
Korea have unquestionably been weakened at times by losses from epidemics as well as military action.
The best and latest American methods were put into effect by the division surgeon, Capt. E.R. Hering
[Footnote 1: USN or USNR ranks being held by all medical officers and chaplains mentioned in this article,
these are omitted as repetitive. Marine ranks are distinguished by the letters USMC.], and the 1st Med Bn,
commanded by Comdr Howard A. Johnson, which reached Inchon with the rest of the 1st Mar Div just before the
amphibious landing. Most of the men had received some previous field training, and Co C had seen action with
the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade in the Pusan Perimeter. This combat experience included the first
experiments in evacuation of casualties by Marine helicopters.
Care of the wounded in a Marine division begins with the complement of two medical officers and forty
hospital corpsmen attached to each infantry battalion. Two aid men advance with each platoon to supervise
the evacuation of casualties from the firing line. The wounded man then walks or is carried to the battalion
aid station by litter bearers, consisting of Marine enlisted personnel. There the two medical officers and
the rest of the corpsmen give treatment to put the casualty in condition for further evacuation.
From now on, the division medical battalion is in charge. This unit includes a Headquarters and Service
Company in addition to the five letter companies which have the responsibility for casualty care. Three are
collecting and clearing companies, one being available for each infantry regiment. The collecting section
evacuates casualties from the aid station to the clearing section, which is a highly mobile sixty-bed field
hospital with a surgical team for treatment of non-evacuables requiring resuscitation and immediate surgery.
The remaining two letter companies are hospital companies, staffed and equipped on a 200-bed basis to
provide definitive care and hospitalization within the division area.
At this point it would be an oversight not to mention the twenty-eight Navy chaplains, both regular and
reserve officers, attached to major units of the 1st Mar Div at Inchon. Representing the Protestant,
Catholic, and Jewish faiths, the chaplains’ section has a primary mission “to minister to the spiritual
needs of the troops, ‘bringing men to God and God to men.’” A secondary mission is “to minister to the sick,
the wounded, and the dying,” and some of the most daring rescues of wounded men on the firing line have been
credited to chaplains. More than one Marine’s life has been saved because the “padre” risked his own to give
first aid, and it is the duty of these officers to conduct burial services and write letters of consolation
to the next-of-kin of deceased personnel.
The amphibious mission of a Marine division adds to the necessity for medical self-sufficiency, since the
evacuation of casualties to rear areas may be interrupted during a ship-to-shore attack. A solution for this
problem was found at Inchon, where a revolutionary new technique was initiated to co-ordinate medical care
with the complex tactics of a great amphibious operation.
Military surgeons use the term “golden period” in reference to the few hours after a man has been wounded
in a vital part of the body. Resuscitation and definitive care can still save his life, but delay may be
fatal. Despite this danger, definitive care often had to wait in past amphibious operations until the
casualty could be evacuated to a hospital ship after temporary treatment on the beach.
Navy medical officers tried a bold new technique on D-day at Inchon when four surgical teams, each made
up of three doctors and ten corpsmen, hit the beaches in LSTs shortly after the landing of the assault
troops. Two other teams waited offshore under enemy fire in improvised operating rooms aboard LSTs loaded
with explosives and napalm. Practically all the Marines wounded in the Inchon assault were treated on the
beaches by one of the four advance surgical teams. Then, if further care was indicated, the casualties were
sent aboard the LSTs for surgery and hospitalization or evacuation to hospitals in Japan.
Somewhat similar surgical teams had been used in the South Pacific landings and the Normandy operation of
World War II. But Inchon is distinguished as the first amphibious assault where a carefully plotted medical
technique was integrated with military tactics. The surgical teams had been drilled like men on a football
squad, and on the night of D-day Team No. 2 received ninety-five wounded Marines, many requiring chest or
abdominal surgery, without the loss of a single case. A specialist in plastic surgery was available for
facial wounds requiring surgery which would leave no unsightly scars.
Such a spectacular success was achieved by the teams at Inchon that they were recalled to Japan
afterwards to act as preceptors to other teams in process of organization. Within a year the number of these
teams had grown to twenty-two on standby duty in the Far East. When not needed for a special military
operation, they were integrated into the staffs of hospitals or hospital ships to keep in constant training
for their team jobs by working with the wounded.
A tremendous task awaited the 1st Med Bn at Inchon. On the morning of D plus one, Companies A and B put
equipment ashore for a division hospital. A school building at Inchon was selected as the location, and
shortly after noon on D plus two the hospital was prepared to receive casualties.
By D plus four the line of evacuation had grown so long that a clearing station was set up at Kimpo
Airfield by Companies C and D to serve the rapidly advancing 5th Marines as that regiment prepared to cross
the river Han and assault Seoul. Although Kimpo had been captured from the enemy only the day before, the
medical officers arrived with previously sterilized instruments and were prepared to operate on casualties
only sixty-five minutes after their trucks reached the new location.
The 1,900 casualties given life-saving aid at Kimpo during the first week included not only Marines but
U.S. Army personnel and Koreans of all political persuasions, civilians as well as soldiers.
The 1st Marines, pushing ahead toward Seoul on a route parallel to that of the other regiment, was
supported by a provisional platoon of medical officers and corpsmen who set up a mobile clearing point for
casualties to be evacuated to Kimpo. The 7th Marines did not land until D plus seven, and Co D of the 1st
Med Bn was attached to that regiment when it attacked north of Seoul.
The securing of the city led to a sharp drop in the casualties treated at Kimpo and Inchon. And on 28
September Co B was displaced from Kimpo to install a forward hospital at Seoul which became the principal
clearing station during the last nine days of the operation.
From start to finish, the need for helicopter evacuation was reduced to a minimum by the comparatively
good roads of the Inchon-Seoul area. Ambulances were the main reliance of medical officers who never
compromised with their ideal of resuscitation and definitive care without delay for critical cases.
Stateside blood donors would have been grateful to know that such care, as Capt. Hering defined it, often
“meant whole blood in adequate amounts, administered in time of obviate prolonged shock; in time to bring
the serious [casualties] back into condition so that immediate surgery, if indicated, could be performed at
the most opportune time.” This standard of timeliness has been the principal factor in establishing an
overall mortality rate among American casualties wounded in action of twenty-three per one thousand in Korea
as compared to an incidence of forty-five per thousand in World War II.
The chaplains earned a share of the credit for prompt evacuation of the wounded during the three weeks of
Inchon-Seoul. Three of the twenty-eight chaplains were themselves wounded, giving their group a ratio of
casualties comparing with that of combat troops.
Eleven other chaplains of the 1st Mar Div have won the Purple Heart in subsequent operations. Among the
fifty-one additional honors of the chaplains’ section in two years of Marine operations are twenty-two
Bronze Stars, two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merit awards, and twenty-five letters of commendation.
On 7 October the 1st Mar Div was relieved by Eighth Army elements in preparation for a new amphibious
landing at Wonsan on the east coast. The Marines and other X Corps units were then to strike across the
peninsula and join forces with the Eighth Army, advancing up the west coast, to complete the defeat of the
Korean Reds. The collapse of enemy resistance was so sudden, however, that this plan had to be amended. As
it proved, the 1st Mar Div made an unopposed landing at Wonsan on the 25th, and its units were soon widely
dispersed in northeast Korea on a variety of patrolling and blocking missions.
This meant that the 1st Med Bn must also cover a great deal of ground, since the elements of the division
were separated early in November by 118 miles from north to south. The division hospital was first
established by Companies A and B at Wonsan immediately after the landing. Then as the 7th Marines began an
advance to the Chosin Reservoir, the need for a second division hospital in the Hamhung-Hungnam area was
filled by Co. A. It was a timely move, for on 3 November the 7th Marines had the first large-scale fight of
American troops with the Chinese Communist invaders who had infiltrated through the mountains to the aid of
the beaten Korean Reds. The regiment cut a CCF division to pieces in a four-day battle, but this result was
not accomplished without losses. The first wounded Marine reached the hospital at Hungnam at 1500 on 4
November, and before midnight 150 had been received.
Wounded CCF prisoners were among the total of 86 casualties given care at Hungnam from 4 to 9 November
after being evacuated by motor and rail. A clearing station had been set up at Hamhung by Companies C and E,
attached to the 5th and 7th Marines respectively, and heated railway cars were used for evacuation over the
Korean narrow-gauge line running from Hungnam to Chinhung-ni at the foot of the mountains. Critical
casualties were flown from Hamhung to the hospital ship USS Consolation at Wonsan or to base hospitals in
Of the 386 casualties received at the Hungnam hospital from 4 to 9 November, only one died of wounds
after admission. The next two and a half weeks brought a sudden drop in 1st Mar Div casualties as an ominous
lull fell over the front. During this period the major units of the division advanced to the Hagaru area, at
the foot of the Chosin Reservoir, while detachments provided security at Koto-ri and Chinhung-ni along the
MSR to Hamhung. As the center of gravity of the division shifted, the 1st Med Bn moved its command post and
the remainder of its personnel from Wonsan to Hungnam, followed by the USS Consolation. There the division
hospital had been enlarged to 400 beds, and a new annex was set up at Hamhung with 100 to 150 more.
The line of evacuation became overlong, however, as the 5th and 7th Marines were ordered to advance from
Hagaru to Yudam-ni in preparation for a combined offensive of X Corps in the east and Eighth Army in the
west. Medical officers felt the need of a hospital-type facility at Hagaru in addition to the clearing
stations operated by Co D at Koto-ri and Chinhung-ni. Plans were made, therefore, for Companies C and E to
combine their resources at Hagaru and establish a medical supply dump as well as forward hospital.
Additional surgical teams were to be flown to Hagaru by Companies A and B from the division hospital.
Execution of these plans had just begun when the great CCF counteroffensive exploded on 25 November. The
enemy hurled back the Eighth Army in the west, and on the night of the 27th it was the turn of X Corps as
eight Chinese divisions fell upon the 1st Mar Div. The 5th and 7th Marines were isolated at Yudam-ni in
sub-zero weather, with the main supply route cut behind them as far south as the Koto-ri area. The main CCF
blow fell on the 28th, when the casualties of the Marines amounted to 939—the largest total for one day ever
recorded by the 1st Mar Div in Korea.
Of this number, 539 had been wounded, and 161 killed or died of wounds. The 239 non-battle casualties
were nearly all frostbite cases, some of them so severe that amputation was indicated. Enemy roadblocks
prevented ambulances from using the fourteen-mile mountain trail leading to Hagaru from Yudam-ni.
Temperatures ranging from ten to twenty below zero added to the difficulties of the inadequate number of
medical officers and corpsmen at Yudam-ni.
LtComdr John H. Craven, chaplain of the 7th Marines, and his colleagues went sleepless for three nights
while assisting the medical personnel. A few of the most serious casualties were evacuated by helicopter,
but the great majority had to wait for transportation in vehicles.
Other Marine positions along the MSR were also attacked. Fox Company of the 7th Marines, guarding a
critical mountain pass halfway between Hagaru and Yudam-ni, fought for survival against Chinese in estimated
regimental strength. This position was surrounded by the enemy, so that corpsmen could only give first aid
to casualties and make them as comfortable as possible.
The perimeters at Hagaru, Koto-ri, and Chinhung-ni, held by the 3d, 2d, and 1st Bns respectively of the
1st Marines, were not neglected by the enemy. But it was Hagaru that had the hardest fight of all, for the
CCF made tremendous effort to take this key position. Marine engineers, truck drivers, and clerks from the
division command post were pressed into service as infantrymen, and several penetrations by screaming
Chinese threatened to overrun the medical tents.
Repeated attempts were made by Marine tank and infantry patrols to clear the MSR. All were turned back by
overwhelming enemy numbers. Even a task force composed of three tank-supported infantry companies met with
disaster on the 29th while escorting supplies and reinforcements from Koto-ri to Hagaru. The tanks and
infantry in the lead got through with heavy losses, and the elements in the rear fought their way back to
Koto-ri. But the service troops and trucks in the middle of the column were compelled to surrender after
exhausting their ammunition in an all-night fight.
This outcome convinced the Marine command of the necessity of remaining on the defensive until the
separated groups could fight their way out as a division. During the next two days, therefore, the 1st Mar
Div presented to the enemy five bristling perimeters having no contact with one another save by air.
Seldom in U.S. military history has a group of medical officers faced a heavier responsibility or a
greater opportunity for service than the situation confronting Capt Hering and the heads of the 1st Med Bn.
All were confident as to the ability of the 1st Mar Div to cut its way through eight CCF divisions to the
seacoast. But there was an “if” in the equation—the Marines could come out fighting if their hundreds
of casualties were evacuated.
This was the problem of the medical officers. They had anticipated the possibility of an emergency in
their advance planning, but enemy action stopped the convoy of medical supplies sent to Hagaru. These
supplies reached Koto-ri, however, where they proved useful at a later stage of the breakout. For the time
being, the 1st Med Bn had to take to the air. Helicopter evacuation was limited by the lack of enough
machines to meet a fraction of the demands. It was the L-5, an Army observation plane comparable to the OY,
that became the workhorse of the battalion as more surgical teams were flown to Hagaru and serious
casualties evacuated on the return trip.
Such efforts were on too small a scale to be more than a partial solution, since it was estimated that
total Marine casualties amounted to nearly 2,000 by 30 November. The number was increased by a thousand,
moreover, when three battalions of the 7th Infantry Division were cut off east of the reservoir and badly
mauled. LtCol Olin D. Beall, USMC, led Marine volunteers who crossed the ice of the reservoir in jeeps and
sleds to rescue wounded or frostbitten soldiers. These casualties were taken into the crowded hospital tents
at Hagaru as charges of the 1st Med Bn.
Medical officers now recognized that their only hope for a solution of the evacuation problem lay in the
use of the C-47 strip at Hagaru, commenced on 18 November by Marine engineers working day and night. Soil
frozen as hard as concrete slowed up the dozers and scrapers, and drivers silhouetted by floodlights were a
target for enemy snipers. It was a remarkable feat under the circumstances to have completed 2,900 feet in
twelve days. The “minimum” prescribed by engineering manuals was 6,000 feet, but so pressing was the need
that the half-finished strip had its test on 1 December after having been in the hands of the enemy two
Anxious eyes were fixed on the first Air Force C-47 as its wheels touched the frozen runway, and it
seemed a miracle when the pilot made a safe, even if bumpy, landing. Better yet, he compounded the miracle
by taking off successfully with twenty-four wounded Marines.
Thus was launched one of the most prodigious air evacuations of casualties in military history. Capt
Hering had charge of the medical situation at Hagaru, and the airstrip boiled with activity as C-47s landed
and took off that afternoon. About 450 casualties were evacuated before dusk to the division hospital at
Hungnam, the USS Consolation, or various hospitals in Japan. This number was doubled the next day, and 929
wounded or frostbitten soldiers of the 7th Infantry Division were evacuated by air on 3 December.
During these three days a great effort was made to clear the hospital tents at Hagaru before the 5th and
7th Marines arrived from Yudam-ni. Their breakout had been preceded by a surprise maneuver on the night of 1
December when the 1st Bn of the 7th Marines took an “impossible” route across the mountain tops to effect
the relief of Fox Co and secure the critical pass near Sinhung-ni. After a march of frightful hardships over
a trackless waste of snowdrifts and boulders, the column accomplished both of its missions the next day
while bringing out its own dead and wounded.
Five days and nights of battling the Chinese had left Fox Co with eighty-nine wounded, including six of
the seven officers. These casualties had received only a minimum of care in a hilltop perimeter surrounded
by the enemy. They were given further treatment by the doctors and corpsmen of the 1st Bn, assisted by
Meanwhile the main body of the two regiments had begun the move from Yudam-ni to Hagaru that morning.
It had been possible up to this time to evacuate only 156 of the most critical casualties from Yudam-ni by
helicopter or observation planes. The hundreds of remaining casualties were taken out in the vehicles,
the most serious cases being wrapped in their sleeping bags and secured by ropes. Every Marine walked
who was able to hobble along and carry a rifle, including men with light wounds.
From the state the column had to fight its way through defended mindblocks, so that new casualties were
incurred hourly. Sub-zero weather accounted for scores of them. Men struggled up the
mountainsides to drive back the Chinese, then had their feet frozen before they could find an opportunity to
change socks wet with perspiration. [Footnote 2: These casualties led to the adoption of the thermal boot
which kept the feet of the 1st Mar Div warm and dry throughout the following winter in east Korea.]
Some of the victims, pinned down for long periods by CCF fire, were found with their feet encased in a shell
Capt. Hering had hoped to remove the most critical casualties by air as the column proceeded. This
project had to be abandoned, however, after the loss of two helicopters which crashed in narrow mountain
passes. Corpsmen gave the wounded first aid, and litter-bearers brought them off the hillsides to the
column. Only a few heated ambulances were available for resuscitation by means of serum albumen,
followed by injections of antibiotics. The wounded were then placed in sleeping bags and lashed to the
Every inch of space on vehicles was occupied after the casualties of 1/7 and Fox Co brought the total up
to 2,400. The head of the column wound its way into Hagaru on the afternoon of 3 December and the rear
arrived the next morning. Even the Marines who had escaped bullets and frostbite might have been
considered casualties of exhaustion, sleepless nights, and digestive ills resulting from a diet of frozen
"C" rations. But all men who could pull a trigger were needed, and Capt Hering was guided by a Spartan
example when sorting out frostbite cases for evacuation by air. This precept was set by LtComdr
Chester N. Lessenden, regimental surgeon of the 5th Marines, who refused to be evacuated and continued at
his duties after both feet were painfully frozen. Capt Hering passed personally on all controversial
cases, and he approved for evacuation only those in worse shape than Lessenden. Apparently this was
not too severe a test, for the surgeon of the 5th Marines suffered no permanent injury.
Marine morale was so high at Hagaru that some of the men selected for evacuation were reluctant.
The warming and feeding of thousands of casualties was a tremendous task for overworked medical officers and
corpsmen assisted by chaplains. Every hour counted as this group set itself the goal of evacuating all
helpless casualties, so that the division could begin the next stage of the breakout on 6 December.
"Without air evacuation," declared Capt. Hering a year later, "casualty handling would have been a
debacle and the entire progress of the withdrawal slowed immeasurably."
The achievement is the more remarkable because the Hagaru airstrip was within sight of the Chinese who
surrounded the perimeter. Fortunately, the only plane to crash was protected by Corsairs until a rifle
company could dash outside the perimeter and rescue the casualties and crew, all of whom survived the
Such critical medical items as whole blood, antibiotics, litters, and blankets were brought to Hagaru by
air-drop. The hospital tents did not long remain empty on 6 December, for 300 new casualties were
received as the head of the division column fought its way toward Koto-ri. These patients were treated
by medical personnel who remained in the perimeter, and the C-47s flew them out that day. The medical
officers and corpsmen marched out with the last troops, whereupon the Chinese occupied the perimeter and
airstrip they had failed to take by assault.
At Koto-ri an observation-plane strip had been hurriedly lengthened by Marine engineers until it could be
used by C-47s or R4Ds if the pilots were both skilled and lucky. About 600 more casualties were
received in this perimeter after the division completed the march from Hagaru. Six surgical teams
worked around the clock, giving definitive care or performing operations, and all casualties were evacuated
by air in a single day before the column set out for Chinhung-ni.
The worst was over on the 10th when the column reached the foot of the mountains, and the next day found
the 1st Mar Div in the warming tents at Hamhung. Marine casualties since 26 November amounted to a
total of 7,350, including 4,675 who had been evacuated by air.
The survivors had only four days to wait before embarking as the first division of X Corps to sail for
South Korea. This was the beginning of the "amphibious operation in reverse" which ended on Christmas
Eve with the successful redeployment by Task Force-90 of all UN troops in northeast Korea.
The 1st Mar Div passed from X Corps into Eighth Army reserve. After several weeks in an assembly
area at Masan, the Marines began a series of offensive and defensive operations in coordination with Army
divisions. Officers and corpsmen of the 1st Med Bn were put to no such test as the Reservoir
evacuations, but the wild, mountainous terrain of operations Killer and Ripper was a constant challenge in
the spring of 1951. One of the best solutions to the evacuation problem in such areas was the training
of hired South Korean laborers as litter-bearers. Some of these former A-frame porters won the
admiration of the Marines by the courage and endurance they showed in rescuing wounded men under fire.
Medical techniques improved with experience as the war continued. Evacuation by helicopter,
initiated by the Marines, won general adoption in Korea because of the reduction in the ratio of casualties
dying of wounds. By the end of 1951 about 300 helicopters were being used by the Army, Air Force, and
Marines for this purpose alone, and the USS Consolation had been dubbed a "carrier" after installing a
flight deck of 60x60 feet for the landing of helicopters with casualties.
Prevention as well as cure of serious wounds was a subject of experiment, and in the summer of 1951 a
joint Army-Navy mission went to Korea for field tests of a new type of body armor developed for the Marine
Corps. casualty figures of the war up to this time had shown that nearly thirty-five percent of the
men killed in action and thirty percent of those dying of wounds had been hit in the thorax or abdomen.
About one-third of all fatalities, in short, were caused by wounds in parts of the body which might have
been protected by body armor.
The 1st Mar Div and the 2d Inf Div were selected in the early autumn of 1951 as the two major units to
try out a new thoraco-abdominal vest weighing between six and seven pounds. Tests proved that this
body armor could be worn without too much encumbrance, and that the compressed Fiberglas and Nylon had a
satisfactory protective value. Various changes in design were suggested by trials under combat
conditions, and among the benefits was a good psychological effect on morale. Detailed results of the
joint Army-Navy tests are still regarded as classified material, but it is no secret that modern,
lightweight body armor appears to be on the way to widespread adoption.
Not much can be said, as veterans will agree, in praise of the war in Korea. There have been more
hardships than thrills in those somber Asiatic highlands, more moments of fatigue than glory. But even
Korea has its advantages, and gains have been made in military surgery--such important gains that never
before has a man gone into combat with as good a chance of coming out alive and whole.