DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY
XVIII AIRBORNE CORPS
FORT BRAGG, NORTH CAROLINA
US ARMY CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY
WASHINGTON, D. C.
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
Oral History Interview
DSIT AE 014
LTC William C. Long
Troop Commander, 86th Evacuation Hospital
Interview Conducted 16 February 1991 at King Khalid Military City, Saudi Arabia
Interviewer: MAJ Robert B. Honec, III
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1989 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 014
MAJ HONEC: This is an Operation DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD interview tape. My name is MAJ Robert B. Honec of the 116th Military History Detachment, XVIII Airborne Corps. I'm with the 86th Evacuation Hospital in KKMC [King Khalid Military City], Saudi Arabia.
And sir, for the record, would you state your name, Social Security Number, unit of assignment, and duty position?
LTC LONG: My name is LTC William C. Long. My Social Security Number is ***-**-****. I'm assigned to the 86th Evacuation Hospital as the Troop Commander.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Sir, have you been in that position the entire time over here?
LTC LONG: No. I became the Troop Commander after we exchanged command with COL Ross Davies, Medical Corps, who took command on 15 November. Prior to that, I was the commander of the hospital in the Medical Service Corps position.
MAJ HONEC: Could you describe the compound of the 86th and some of the modules that you have here? What sort of hospital it is? And [would you] go into a short detail of that?
LTC LONG: The 86th Evac Hospital is a 400-bed treatment facility. We're here at KKMC with DEPMEDS [Deployable Medical System] equipment. We have 200 beds under temper tent configuration, with 200 minimum care tent configuration under GP [general purpose] Large tentage. We're in a position where we have them fully operational, and we're ... while we're not fully filled right now, we're anticipating using all these 400 beds.
MAJ HONEC: Is this a normal, by-the-book configuration of the hospital?
LTC LONG: We have taken guidance on the setting up of the DEPMEDS equipment, but have modified it to our needs as well as the abilities of our physicians and nursing staff. There have been some modifications [that] we think have been actually improvements. And we've got this laid out to where we feel this is the most functional, the best functional system. Even comparing it to other hospitals now, we still feel we have a good configuration, especially of the temper tents.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Could you explain what specialties are you specific in that caused a change to this configuration, so that you can optimize it?
LTC LONG: One of the major concerns we had was on the operating room area. We configured a storage area for CMS [critical medical supplies] that allows for cross-leveling of equipment as it is prepared and stored. There's an ability for each OR [operating room] box to be able to access this storage area, to be able to again cross-level. This operation also has a CAT scan attached to it, and this has been incorporated into our x-ray configuration, along with regular x-ray capability. We have attached to us a neurosurgical team, too, that will utilize this CAT scan and use the OR. We've even taken one additional box that we've been able to use as still an additional operating room, so we basically have seven operating room tables right now in four different boxes. That's a major change that we've had.
We've also modified our clinic area to where it's longer, giving it more temper than normal, and allowing it to be used for consult areas as well as doctor[s'] offices.
These are the major changes, we think. We also have made this ... or, configured the hospital in a way that you don't have to go outside the temper in order to get from the OR to the ICUs [intensive care units] or to the ICWs [intensive care wards]. You can go in a complete circle around the hospital and not have to go outside. This is a plus to our configuration, and would recommend that to any other hospital.
MAJ HONEC: Is this an answer also to some NBC [nuclear, biological and chemical] considerations, or nuclear-biological, so it can be all in one?
LTC LONG: Well, it allows us to not be going outside for transfer of patients to other wards and so forth. It does keep people in. While this wasn't intended specifically for NBC, it does work in that direction and it allows us then to be free from what would be persistent agent, perhaps. It would ... I mean, the tentage would, in fact, protect the staff as well as the patients on that order without going outside.
MAJ HONEC: Great. Okay, now, let's go back. Your unit is from Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Could you perhaps give a capsule of your deployment, how it went, did you have any personnel shortages, where they were filled from ... expound upon it in that sort of nature.
LTC LONG: Okay. We are from Fort Campbell. We're an active duty unit. We were alerted in early August to be prepared to move, and we went into the deployment stage.
The first concern was certainly to ensure that our equipment was functional as well as well-packed. We also had major efforts with obtaining close to $400,000 worth of medical supply items, and preparing that for shipment as well.
We had a close relationship with Blanchfield Army Medical Hospital at Fort Campbell that provided 40 of the personnel that were PROFIS [Professional Filler System] to us, and we had a close working relationship then with them, and this eased in the deployment preparation. Other PROFIS people came. A few from Fitzsimmons [Army Medical Center]--I believe there were seven from "Fitz"--approximately eight from Eisenhower [Army Medical Center], and I believe there were two from Fort Jackson, and one from Walter Reed [Army Medical Center]. This gave us a configuration for PROFIS.
And during the deployment, what we did was we prepared our people as well as our equipment. And at the time of deployment itself, we did it in stages. We sent out an advance party of twenty ... approximately 24 people [that] arrived here about ten days in front of the main body. The main body deployed on 21 October, but we made a--we were the only hospital to do this--but we allowed our PROFIS people to follow two weeks after the main body. This allowed us to set up the hospital and have it functional for them as they arrived. Then they participated in setting up the inside of the hospital, and were not necessarily standing around watching us--we knew how to set up DEPMEDS--watching us work while they had nothing to do. So this worked very functionally. We came over, then, in the advance party, the main body, and then the PROFIS, covering approximately a month period.
MAJ HONEC: This is out of the normal, then? It's a little bit of departure from doctrine? Usually, you have advance party, and then the main body goes over complete, but you all did it differently?
LTC LONG: We were the only hospital to do that differently ... slightly different. The intent was to save the PROFIS back in the United States, wherever they were; to be able to have them be functioning in the hospitals there, knowing that they would not be fully utilized in the set-up of the operation here in Saudi. We were first set up, by the way, in October at King Fahd International Airport south of here, and have made a move since then. But working this way, it's deploying the PROFIS after it, I think allowed for good morale. The soldiers felt proud that they had set up the hospital, providing it--making it available for the PROFIS as they came in. I think the PROFIS felt good. They were functioning back in the United States right up to the last moment, then coming over here and functioning again in their professional ways without having to sit around watching and waiting for the establishment of the hospital.
MAJ HONEC: Okay You got in country ... what was the mode of transportation that the unit took? Would you cover that a little bit?
LTC LONG: The hospital shipped out its equipment in the very early part of October, and the equipment went out by rail out of Fort Campbell to a port in Jacksonville, Florida, and was placed on a boat. Approximately three weeks later, we got word that the boat was inbound, and we the staff then and the main body, we flew over to Saudi on ...
MAJ HONEC: Commercial air?
LTC LONG: ... commercial air.
MAJ HONEC: Did it come in in Dammam, is where it came in?
LTC LONG: Yes. It came in Dammam.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, and then off-loading: did you have any accountability problems with your equipment, with this shipping over? Okay, then you need to ...
LTC LONG: Yes. The equipment that was shipped on the boat was actually placed on six different ships, and it came over here in piecemeal. Not all the ships obviously arrived at the same time. We were able to be at the port with a receiving team, and it was actually the advance party that took accountability of the MILVANs [military vans] and the ISO containers and vehicles as they came off the boat--boats plural--and were able to put these in an area. And as we, the main body, arrived then, we were able to retrieve this equipment. The equipment was still coming in, though, even after the main body had arrived, but this still gave us time to work our equipment as it came in piecemeal instead of all in one big chunk.
MAJ HONEC: Did you have adequate transportation and engineer support to set up the first time?
LTC LONG: We had fairly good support with the engineers as well as transportation. As a matter of fact, it was excellent. We had support from our sister unit back at Fort Campbell, the 29th Trans[portation Battalion], part of the 101st (Corps) Support Group (which we normally belong to back at Fort Campbell), [who] assisted us in the transportation of our equipment out to King Fahd International from the port.
And we were co-located with the 101st [Airborne] Division (Air Assault) that had an engineer battalion [326th Engineer Battalion] that assisted us with our engineer support at King Fahd also. They were located approximately a half mile away, and they were able to provide us with graders and scoops and so forth to prepare our sumps and level our land. So we had good support from the 101st Division as well as the 101st Corps Support Group, also co-located at Fort Campbell.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Is there anything else around about the King Fahd operation that you can think of that was unique or that needs to be recorded in the history?
LTC LONG: We established ourselves in what we thought was fairly quick time. We were able to get this hospital functional in six days after we started work on the set-up. We did have a change of command then, changing the command from the Medical Service Corps to a Medical Corps officer, COL Davies again. We operated ... well, we were supporting the soldiers in that area as well as ... we were one of the furthest north hospitals, at that time, established.
In early December, it was actually December 10th that we were given word that we were to disestablish ourselves, close down, and prepare to move to KKMC. And with some concern about whether we would actually stay as echelons above Corps at King Fahd, or rather move with the Corps. There was some confusion there. We were able then, finally, to stay with the XVIII Airborne Corps and move up to KKMC and remain in support and with the XVIII Airborne Corps.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Good. Now, here at King Khalid Military City, did ... did you have any ... when you arrived here, was it early, or were there other established units? Did you have any security concerns? How was the move and the setting up--was it fairly smooth? Would you expound upon that?
LTC LONG: Once we were definite about moving, we moved fairly well. We had, again, support of the 29th Trans[portation Battalion] out of Fort Campbell, and we again moved in series. It was a very smooth move. We prepared our equipment for movement. We were able to send up an advance party, a fairly heavy advance party of 100 people. Well, first there was a pre-advance party, we called it, of about 25 people that came up and to prepare the area and to open up accounts and to set the stakes for the hospital. We were able to ship an advance party equipment load, too, that came up with the ...
[INTERRUPTION IN TAPE]
MAJ HONEC: Okay. We're back with discussing KKMC, setting up the operations basically. Could you discuss, sir, the interface with the Saudi Government, how the set-up went, what sort of innovations that you have here--I see two helicopter pads, one is in the process of being laid down now with the tarmac--just those sorts of things, please.
LTC LONG: Okay. We did move from King Fahd International Airport. We closed out of there, with the main body leaving on the 22d of December. They flew up here on Air Force aircraft, and the trail body with approximately five vehicles closed out completely on the 24th of December. We became operational again on the 2d of January, having taken time for Christmas and so forth.
When we first got up here, we had contacts made with the hospital next door, that's the Saudi hospital. And this hospital was--the coordination was made that we could use it if we so found it necessary. Also, we just wanted to ensure that there was inter-operability between the two hospitals.
We were the first evac[uation] hospital assigned up here at KKMC. In December when we first arrived, also, the 5th MASH [Mobile Army Surgical Hospital] was here. They actually arrived on or about the same time we did, and were operational too for a short while. Since then, we've had four other reserve hospitals, evacuation hospitals, come into KKMC and are here now in this area. There's the 114th Evac, the 250th Evac, the 351st Evac, and the 44th Evac. The 44th Evac is also an XVIII Airborne Corps hospital, reserve hospital.
Our operation, again, was on the 2d of January, and we have had contact with the Saudi hospital, where we did ... . In late December prior to our operations here even, we held educational classes by our physicians giving classes to the Saudis next door in a continuing education program for them that lasted approximately three days. And it was actually an ATLS background given by our physicians to their physicians and nursing staff. This went very well for us and allowed us to get to know their operation as well as to get to know their people, and for them to get to know us as well. Now, I'm ... .
MAJ HONEC: What sort of subjects ... what sort of subjects did you cover in these classes?
LTC LONG: Okay, the subjects were from the spectrum of our professional staff, from OB-GYN to thoracic surgery and so forth. It was in-depth as well as ... it was given in such a way that it was for the medics as well as for the physicians, and had the degrees of simplicity to very detailed in the subjects. It was meant to be this broad. Some of the nursing staff, we understand, next door are not as well-trained as our nursing staff, and we wanted to make sure we covered the subjects that were necessary for all the levels of education and experience that we had in the audience. And many of our medics, in particular our [Military Occupational Specialty] 91Cs and 91Ds, attended this training as well, and were able to benefit from this.
When we first got here, we were early in the arrival of corps assets in particular. When we were formed, we ... there were approximately 3,000 American soldiers here at KKMC when we first arrived. Concern for security was paramount, although as perhaps it turned out, we weren't so much in danger. We were ... we feel we ... we were, at the time, the furthest hospital in the ...
MAJ HONEC: Furthest north?
LTC LONG: ... in the area, yes. And this gave us some concern, but again, as it turned out, it wasn't of any major significance. We did prepare our perimeter, though. We were able to haul up our wire, our concertina wire, as well as concrete blocks that we've effectively used in developing our perimeter here at KKMC. We had these items down at King Fahd International as well.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. We're now into the overall anticipation of battle. Would you go into the plans: a little bit about your anticipated patient load, the reason why they configured these hospitals all in close proximity to each other--expound upon what kind of concept that is, what's driving these clusters?
LTC LONG: This is a good logistic space here at KKMC, and as it turns out it's a major hospital base as well, with again five evacuation hospitals located here.
To my understanding, the best ... we are going to be in the initial stage of the battle, the ground battle, we will be very busy as the MASHs and CSHs [Combat Support Hospitals] are uploaded and are staging along with the combat forces. It is my understanding that as the combat forces proceed north to take objectives, the MASHs and CSHs will follow, and will then become established as these objectives are taken. Now during the interim when the battle is ongoing but the hospitals--the MASHs and CSHs--are not, in fact, operational, we expect that we will be seeing patients taken directly from the aid stations or the clearing companies down to us, and be in a position of providing first hospital care. Now as the battle progresses and the MASHs and CSHs are developed, these patients will continue to be air evac'd [evacuated] to us, or perhaps placed on tactical evacuation assets with the Air Force and delivered to the airfield here. And then from the airfield to our hospital by ground or helicopter assets.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, and the helicopters you plan to use--C-130s [Hercules], use CH-47s [Chinooks] also, as well as the Blackhawks [UH-60s] and Hueys [UH-1 Iroquois], pretty much?
LTC LONG: Yes, we anticipate using any of the aircraft. Initially, we expect Hueys--Hueys and Blackhawk support. Chinooks are available also, and we have built our LZ [landing zone] to be able to handle both Chinook and ... well, all helicopter aircraft. The delivery to the airfield is expected to be on C-130s taken from the north and south here. Due to the greater distances, it's ... eventually, the military objectives are out of helicopter range, and will, therefore, require a
C-130. Now, we mentioned about [SA-332] Pumas and so forth. We have already treated many British as well as French patients, and we anticipate that that will go on, too, as we are in an ideal location as well as have ideal capability to support them medically.
MAJ HONEC: Will you give any care to the Saudis, or do they have their own separate and distinct health care network?
LTC LONG: Well, they do have their separate health care network, but we anticipate with patient load, we will, out of necessity, treat all our allies, as well as ... we are potentially able to see Iraqi EPWs [enemy prisoners of war]. We will treat anyone and everyone.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. Have you done any consideration to the NBC to decontamination? Real quick, go into decontamination procedures.
LTC LONG: Okay. We've been fortunate to have the clearing platoon from the 423d Medical Company (Clearing) with us. And their primary mission, right now during peace time, if you will, is to run our sick call operations. They are co-located here on our compound with us. But during ... if there are chemical weapons used, their primary mission then changes to decontamination of patients. We have worked with them in training with their personnel and our personnel on decontamination; and we have also got supplies uploaded that we will allow them to use, or use ourselves to decontaminate patients. But the mission rests with the 423d Clearing Company's platoon. And again, they're co-located here. Their decon[tamination] site, though, is at a greater distance out of ... out and about in the way, just so that we don't get vapor hazards here on the hospital itself.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. The last thing, I believe, that I've got a question [about] is the TAMMIS system, the--I forget what the acronym means, but it's T-A-M-M-I-S. I'd like to discuss your experiences with it. I understand that you're using the system extensively in your one through four operations, your patient admin[istration], et cetera. Could you give us a little bit of a grade, if you will, on the performance? Also, highlight communications and the communications problems you're having.
LTC LONG: Well, to start out with, prior to deployment, we did not have TAMMIS. We did ask, and were given, classes back at Fort Campbell to our personnel who we anticipated would be using TAMMIS, but we were not fielded with the equipment. We were trained, though, back at Campbell. While we were in country here, actually located at King Fahd International, TAMMIS equipment was fielded to us, and is in use.
Now what we have, is we have TAMMIS computers in the patient administration division, the PAD, and they are using it there for patient control, and it's the MEDPAR. We also have in the S-4, medical supply area, we have a second hardware set, and it's used exclusively for medical supply. And this is working very well in our needs. One other TAMMIS hardware set-up was given to us for the medical maintenance, and it's being used there, but not as extensively as we thought or perhaps as smoothly as it could be. Now this is a reflection, also, we only have two people working med maintenance. And the time to enter into the computer system, putting data in, is minimum because their needs are actually being used to repair equipment. We haven't fully utilized the med maintenance side.
Now, one side that is missing is the communication. It's very difficult for us to communicate with our next higher [headquarters]; [for] the medical PAR in the PAD to be able to communicate with them. And we at this time are not able to link the TAMMIS equipment we have with the TAMMIS equipment that our next higher has, and the communication, then, is done by either land line or FM or AM radio.
MAJ HONEC: Okay. That sort of information ... could you expand just a little bit on what sort of information would you like to uplink and downlink, obviously, to them, that you cannot do right now? And how is that critical to your operation?
LTC LONG: We would prefer to have some modem that is capable of linking our medical regulating office, the PAD people, with our next higher and allowing it to be freely exchanged rather than dependent upon the AM-FM radio or the land line telephone. If we could have a change on this thing, it would be nice just to have that modem where information would be easily and freely transferred over the modem.
MAJ HONEC: For the translator, that's ... the modem is M-O-D-E-M. That's an electronic device for transferring data and receiving data.
Okay. Can you think of anything else of importance that we need to record for history?
LTC LONG: There could be a series of things that we could record, but I think the 86th Evac Hospital is one of the best hospitals in all of theater. It's operationally in excellent condition. Supply-wise, we're in good shape. Morale is high, and we're prepared to do our job. It truly is one of, I feel, the best hospitals available to serve the Army and forces in Saudi Arabia.
MAJ HONEC: Okay, great. Thank you very much. This concludes a DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD interview, and this is the 17th [actually, 16th] of February .
[END OF INTERVIEW]