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 039
109th Evacuation Hospital
MSG Billie J. Maddox, Chief Ward Master
SFC James A. Jones, Assistant Chief Ward Master
SFC Jim L. Manley, Master, Intensive Care Ward
Interview Conducted 2 March 1991 at Logistical Base CHARLIE, Saudi Arabia
Interviewer: SSG LaDona S. Kirkland
OPERATIONS DESERT SHIELD AND DESERT STORM
7 August 1989 - 15 May 1991
Oral History Interview DSIT AE 039
SSG KIRKLAND: This is SSG LaDona S. Kirkland of the 116th Military History Detachment. This is an interview dedicated to DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. Today's date is the 2d of March, 1991.
I'm speaking to members of the 109th Evacuation Hospital. And the first person is SFC Jim, that's J-i-m, middle initial "L," last name is spelled M-a-n-l-e-y. The second person is SFC James A. Jones. That's James, J-a-m-e-s, middle initial "A," last name is Jones, J-o-n-e-s. The third person is MSG Billie J. Maddox. That's Billie, B-i-l-l-i-e, middle initial "J," last name is spelled M-a-d-d-o-x.
Okay. Could I ask you first when you first deployed from the United States to come to Saudi Arabia, anyone? SFC Manley?
SFC MANLEY: We deployed January 3d from Fort Benning, Georgia, to Saudi Arabia. We got here on January 4th at King Fahd International Airport, and then we were transported to Cement City, spent three days at Cement City. Then we moved to what we called the White Castle, which was an unfinished Saudi hospital complex and we were there two days, before we shipped out up here to Log[istical] Base VICTOR, where we were attached to the 15th Evac[uation] Hospital, and there were 66 of us in the contingent. During the time, we were to come up and help the 15th Evac Hospital and the 44th Evac Hospital functioning back through DEPMEDS [deployable medical system] equipment--our colonel had volunteered us for this mission due to the fact that we had had experiences with DEPMEDS and supposedly we knew DEPMEDS.
We arrived with the 15th. As SFC Jones has elaborated earlier, it was an eye-awakening experience. We were not treated as advisors or helpers. We were treated more as their workers and were pitching their tents and establishing their latrines and digging their bunkers and all this, and that was clearly not our mission, as described to us.
Then we were separated again when 30 went down to the 44th the day before the war started. These people left out. It left 33--35--of us at the 15th and the others went to the 44th. The 44th was a[n Army] Reserve unit from Oklahoma and Texas and, of course, being reserve, they were sympathetic to our people. The 15th, being a Regular Army unit, I guess you might say they treated us like bastards, if we can be nice about it. There was no respect, even for our officer corps, which we had our chief nurse, LTC Heuman. She was given no respect and was not even invited to their staff meetings. MSG Maddox and myself finally invited ourselves to their staff meetings just to find out what was going on so we could get a handle on our situation, what they expected of us, and just generally to get some information as to what was really happening.
The night of the war, this unit had no communications, i.e., radio, with the outside world. I mean, when I say the outside world, not even to their higher headquarters. The alarms for NBC [nuclear, biological, chemical] or any kind of attack alarms were being generated a mile and a half to two miles down the road and was to be transported up to us by courier if something happened, so you can understand our feelings of anxiety, you know, being in that situation.
It felt like that the people in charge--i.e., at the 15th--were not concerned with our health and welfare. And I'm not sure that they had their mission in mind, either, by their disregard for essentials like radio, sandbags for bunkers, and things like this. If you're going to war, in my experience, you have essentials. You have a radio so you can communicate to know what's going on with higher headquarters or communicate with somebody. And two, if you're expecting a war to start, you at least want bunkers built. Our reply--we asked about this. We were told by the commander, the site commander at Log Base VICTOR, that that was not important. The important thing was to pitch tents and get their training established. That was the priority.
SSG KIRKLAND: Who was the commander? Who told you this?
SFC MANLEY: MAJ Boyette was the site commander for the 15th.
SSG KIRKLAND: For the 15th Evac Hospital?
SFC MANLEY: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: The 15th Evac Hospital, where are they from?
SFC MANLEY: They are from Fort Polk, Louisiana.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay.
SFC MANLEY: After making some trips to KKMC [King Khalid Military City], SFC Jones, myself and one other sergeant made contact with an Alabama [National] Guard Unit which ... they were able to contact our Guard unit back at Dammam by phone. We happened to run into two of our truck drivers that were bringing supplies up. We gave them a letter from our chief nurse explaining the dire needs and the way we were being treated by the 15th and if he could pull us out, to pull us out. We finally got permission to leave on the Thursday after the war to go to the 44th. We had not heard back officially from our commander that he was going to pull us out or what he was going to do, and he just advised our colonel to do the best she could, to use her discretion. All we had was a pick-up truck and you can't haul 30-some people in a pick-up truck.
We got the 15th to haul us down to the 44th. We were there about six hours. We had started establishing our sleeping quarters there with the 44th. They were kind enough to clean out a tent for us, bring us Cokes over, you know, just make us feel at home, the way we were accustomed to treating people that come into us, regardless of whether they're Regular Army, Guard or whatever, we treat everybody the same. And this was the kind of treatment we were getting from the 44th when we got there.
About six hours later, we looked up and here was about seven of our guys, "Hey, the colonel sent a bus and two five-tons [trucks], and says to come on back home." We felt bad about just getting to the 44th and then throwing our bags back on the truck and the bus and heading back to Dammam. It was good to get back and rejoin our unit. We felt like we had been abandoned by not only our unit, but nobody really knew the situation we were in and nobody really cared. That was the feeling that a lot of us shared during that time.
There was a time that, you know, when you're sitting there and you're listening on the radio that the war is starting, it's the time that people really came together that night. It was a kind of a bonding that you don't see very often except in times of crisis and historical events that would cause people to react this way. It was a feeling that I won't forget and I'm sure the people that were there and experienced it are not going to forget, either. It was a good feeling. That was the one good thing that came out of the 15th experience: that we were there; that we were fending for ourselves; and we relied on our resources to just survive.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. And your civilian occupation is?
SFC MANLEY: I'm a real estate attorney in Huntsville, Alabama.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. SFC Jones, could you add any comments to being with the 15th Evac Hospital?
SFC JONES: Just like Sergeant Manley said, that we were, in my opinion, treated like bastard stepchildren. We were told that they really didn't care what our mission was about. They didn't care about the DEPMEDS, like we were going to be part of them. They also told us when war broke out, if they had to moved forward, that they were going to take all of us with them because of what they did. They also asked us for our manning chart of all our [Military Occupation Specialty] 91C that we had because what we had with us was really the guts of our hospital. It was our best DEPMEDS people, we felt like, not only from our ten percent ICU [intensive care unit]. We took our core people because we thought we were going to be able to help somebody, to be able to get them ready because of our past, our expertise as DEPMEDS.
Like I said and SFC Manley has related, we did not receive anything. If that was the opinion of the Regular Army, I want nothing to do with them. Even their commander, once he arrived, gave no respect to our Chief Nurse. He gave no respect to our Chief Ward Master. The only NCO that would even talk to us was SFC Hawk; and when the First Sergeant finally arrived on the night that the war did break out, I think he came together with us because he stood in our tent and prayed. My personal opinion of the 15th is they are a bunch of assholes, all the way from the colonel down and, as I said earlier, I only have respect for one person, and that was Chief Warrant Officer Hammonds. He's the only one I have any respect for.
And like SFC Manley alluded, we were able to find a National Guard unit that was able to put us through, and we knew that when we called, that we had circumvented the entire chain of command. We were told that we were numbers in the field and that's all we were, numbers. They could give a rip what we were, what we were there for, we were just numbers. And I share with SFC Manley the fact that I think we did come together as people on that night. We were the only people, I might add, in that compound that had a bunker. Nobody else had nothing. We had to stand guard over our sandbags to keep them from being torn down by people that had none.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you think they would have torn it down?
SFC JONES: They would have torn it down. They would have stolen every sandbag we had. They would have torn the entire thing down. When the war broke out we were in MOPP-4 [Mission-Oriented Protective Posture Level 4] for almost four hours because they did not tell us. There wasn't any alarm whatsoever until we finally got out of that bunker and realized that even our own unit, there was never anyone up here, never any gas plan, nothing. They elected not to even tell us.
I can also tell you that on the nights that it was bitter cold, I don't know that they were lacking for heaters, but as their unit come in, they took our heat.
SSG KIRKLAND: You had heaters first?
SFC JONES: We had heaters first and they went to take them because they said they had to keep their people warm. We did without. Like SFC Manley said, we learned to fend for ourselves, to take care of each other, and that's my experience of the whole thing.
But I was over a little bit earlier. I came over in the advanced party. I arrived in Dhahran on the 22d of December. There was eight of us in the advance. It was a good experience. Like SFC Manley said, once we got to the White House, we [INAUDIBLE].
SSG KIRKLAND: The White House, that was in where, Dammam?
SFC JONES: That was in Dammam. It was actually off the Sports City [complex] exit that I saw. It was a hospital. It was ... for a long time we just slept on concrete. We finally got some cots [INAUDIBLE]. Then to set the site up for this hospital, we basically moved out [INAUDIBLE].
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. And your duty position is?
SFC JONES: Assistant Chief Ward Master for the hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: How long have you been that?
SFC JONES: Since forever.
SSG KIRKLAND: Since forever, which is how long?
SFC JONES: I've been in the National Guard since 1964. My [active] service experience was with the Navy. I was a Hospital Corpsman for the Navy and served in the 1st Marine Division.
SSG KIRKLAND: 1964, okay, great. SFC Manley, your duty position is?
SFC MANLEY: I'm Ward Master over the ICW [intensive care] Wards, the elite care wards.
SSG KIRKLAND: How long have you had that position?
SFC MANLEY: About three months.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, great. How long have you been with the 109th Evac?
SFC MANLEY: Since 1974, about 16 years.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. MSG Maddox, could you explain a little bit about your experiences when you first came into country?
MSG MADDOX: Well, when we came to country, we landed at King Fahd Air Force Base and from there, we went to Cement City, like SFC Manley said, and from there, we spent one night at the White House (or the White Elephant as most folks called it), and from there on, they tasked us with the mission for the 15th, which SFC Manley and SFC Jones have hit the nail on the head, you know. Basically, we were mistreated, you know. This was a learning experience for us because we were learning what bonding was, and we still have that bonding today. And, you know, you can look back on the bad times, but you know, every day after you pass the bad times, you know, those are the good times because it couldn't have gotten much worse.
And from the 15th, we went back to the White Elephant and from there, our quartering party was sent to Log Base CHARLIE to lay out the hospital. When we arrived on site, we pitched the tents, and the Corps of Engineers were laying this place out. And the first thought was, "How in the hell are we going to get this thing laid out in this kind of rock and sand?" But, we took the good with the bad and the expertise that SFC Manley and SFC Jones have laying this hospital out, with the crew that we have, we laid it out.
And when the sandstorm came, you know, we just had to tough it out. Under these conditions, I thought we'd done an excellent job laying the hospital out and, today, you can see what it is. It's one big configuration. So, I think from the time that we've gotten here and the experience we've experienced, it's all downhill now for us.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. The 109th is an Alabama National Guard unit?
SFC JONES: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: Out of where?
SFC JONES: Birmingham and Huntsville.
SSG KIRKLAND: Birmingham and Huntsville? You have units in Birmingham and you have units ... ?
MSG MADDOX: Detachment.
SSG KIRKLAND: And a detachment in Huntsville.
MSG MADDOX: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. When you were Dhahran or Dammam, you didn't set up the whole hospital just the way it is now, did you? SFC Manley.
SFC MANLEY: We didn't set up anything in Dammam. We didn't have anything ... we didn't up anything in Dammam. What we had there was basically we had living quarters for our troops, housing, and our hospital was being staged and being brought into port by the ships, and we were waiting for all of the components of our hospital to arrive so we could move up into the north area up there at Log Base CHARLIE. And Dammam was used primarily, as I said, as a living quarters and a base of operations to house our troops in the staging area, give them equipment, and prepare to move north.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. Were there any equipment shortages when you first landed?
SFC MANLEY: Always. When we arrived, our B-bags (one of our duffel bags) ... they had advised us to pack all of our winter clothing and our desert parkas and all this in the B-bags and they were going to be shipped out of Georgia through Jacksonville, Florida, ahead of time, about two weeks before we were to leave. Which all of this happened. All of our stuff was transported down there and we have yet to see our B-bags. They are still somewhere between here and Jacksonville, Florida. It's not to say that they are not in Saudi Arabia, but we haven't seen them yet. So, it's been kind of the joke of the unit, if anything is missing, well, it's on the B-bag. You'll get it in your B-bag when it gets here.
But in spite of the personal items that we are missing in our B-bags, there have been quite a bit of shortages that we have experienced in setting up the hospital. Some of these have been critical shortages. You start looking at anesthesia machines, blood gas machines, oxygen, respirators, inhalators. You know, these are critical shortages at a hospital of our size; we need more of this type of equipment. It was strange that this stuff was not given priority to the units.
It seems that other units--MSG Maddox and I and SFC Jones, when we were down at KKMC a couple of weeks ago, we talked with another unit at KKMC, another evac hospital, and we met a nurse from that unit. And she was telling us, "Oh, we've got several of those and several of these." Here they are at KKMC and, in our opinion, out of the theater of operations; and here we are, close to the front line, where the land assault was going to go across, and here we're experiencing shortages of these items. They were the respirators and items of that nature. She said, "Oh, we've got ten or twelve of those," and I think we had four at the time and, you know, where is the need greatest at, where the battle is going to be or 135 miles down the road?
And we felt that was strange, that you would deploy a unit and say that it's ready to receive patients and yet, not give it the equipment that it needs to completely do its job.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. Have you tried to get that equipment from KKMC and to transfer it here?
SFC MANLEY: Oh, sure. They had told us that everything would be cross-levelled. That all the hospitals, evac hospitals, would cross-level both their equipment and personnel. We have seen a little bit of personnel cross-leveling but none of the equipment cross-leveling. That has not come to pass, so basically the hospitals kept what they had and if they gave up anything, it was always broken. It was unserviceable.
SSG KIRKLAND: The stuff that they transferred down to this unit?
SFC MANLEY: What we've gotten from other units has been unserviceable and we haven't been able to use it. We had a film processor for X-ray and it's still in pieces. If it's broken for them, it's going to be broken for us.
SSG KIRKLAND: Exactly.
SFC MANLEY: And to me, that's not to say that on some other higher level somewhere, it needs to be addressed and worked out.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. MSG Maddox, what is your duty position?
MSG MADDOX: I'm the Chief Ward Master of the hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: Of the entire hospital?
MSG MADDOX: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: And what's all involved in that?
MSG MADDOX: Well, it's really control of the enlisted personnel and, you know, it's just like the First Sergeant on his side of the road, he's in charge of the personnel. But in the hospital, all of the medical personnel fall under Nursing Services, which SFC Jones and myself, we're under, they're under control under us. So, basically, we're their First Sergeant and a Field First over here. We make sure that all the medical folks show up on time, do the job, make sure of patient care is number one.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. And SFC Jones, what type of planning went into setting up the hospital?
SFC JONES: As far as the hospital itself, we've always laid out ... we're trained ... we normally have what we call a meet set of DEPMEDS. We normally set up in the field in the summer anywhere from 60 to 100 beds. But when we were coming in here, we had planning function, SFC Manley, MSG Maddox and myself, included ... had input from our intelligence ... we had input from other staff members.
What we partially did, we had probably three or four different plans initially and we settled in on a plan, and we felt like it would be functional both for DEPMEDS and, also, like SFC Manley said, we were pulling equipment out of POMCUS [Positioning of Materiel Configured in Unit Sets], out of England. We didn't know whether we were going to have total temper or if we were going to have tents. So, we did have our supply sergeant and officer did go to Germany--or England--and they actually ... functionally ... helped functionally pack our ... or say it was functionally packed ... gave us equipment that we assumed that would be temper once it got ... and that's what this tentage that you see is called: temper tentage.
So, the plan that we finally put together, actually, we could put it together for a temper or we could put it together for tents, whichever--when we opened up the door to these MILVANS to see what we had. Until we dropped these MILVANS on the ground, we did not know which we had: tents or tempers. As you can see, it's fully air conditioned. It's fully heated and fully lighted and we are very grateful to our supply people, helping out to provide that. But all the plans, all the ... all of this was done at Fort Benning. We did have, after we were here awhile ... when I came over earlier in December, right after Christmas, our Executive Officer, LTC [Clyde W.] Dutton, and myself came into this area because we knew we were coming or thought we were going to be in this area. And, again, we came up with CW2 [?] Hammand of the 15th and also LTC Bench from the 44th and another colonel--Varton--out of the 93d Evac, so we were all represented in this area or coming to this area. So, we knew what kind of terrain we were coming into and what kinds of problems we'd run into.
So, like I said, when we got here, like MSG Maddox said, we had to take a grader to get this thing down ... functionally put it on the ground. We took our plans, and what you see is what we laid out in Fort Benning, with very few modifications. Some things we had to do because it normally takes a 600-by-600 piece of ground to put this hospital down, and the fact that we had never put up 400 beds at one time (might be 400 beds functionally) took a little bit of planning and took a little more time. It took us, wouldn't you say about five days, four or five days to actually get it down on the ground, because you have to lay everything out exactly where your hospital is going to sit. And so what you see today was out here on strings and roads, stuff like that, on the ground. It's been a long planning process; it's been all the way from Fort Benning up until here.
SSG KIRKLAND: And when did you initially come to Log Base CHARLIE and start setting up?
SFC MANLEY: January?
MSG MADDOX: We came up here on the 26th. We were on the advance party. We came up here on the 26th.
SFC MANLEY: It was probably February 4th before we started setting up the hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: Thank you, SFC Manley. Okay, could you explain temper, as compared to tent? Is temper an acronym for something?
MSG MADDOX: Well, temper is a type of material. It's a ... what? A tent is just a tent that's made out of canvas and it's got a liner in it like this is made out of. But temper is just a type of material which is better designed and with walls that allows you to--maybe you can explain that better, Jimmie. I don't know how to explain it.
SFC MANLEY: I'm sure temper is an acronym. The Army is famous for acronyms for everything.
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Manley.
SFC MANLEY: Basically, a temper has a skeleton that supports the canvas, whereas your regular tents have poles, ridge poles in the center of the tent and you have your side poles for support. The temper is a skeleton laid out like a house that has ridge poles and your eaves and your header bars and it's like a skeleton with the skin draped over it, with the canvas skin draped over it. And it differs from the traditional tent, the GP [general purpose] Mediums and GP Larges, in that it has a cushioned floor that is water resistant. It has a canvas lining. It has windows all the way down that can be raised. It has a controlled environment, both heating and cooling capabilities. It has an electrical system that's fed into it. It has the outlets and the lights that you can hook up all your equipment and still be inside the tent. It's a more stable type of tent. You don't have the droopage and hang-downs that you have with a regular tent. And other things: you have the work space; when you walk into it, you have a space and it's not a closing in type of situation. It's there to take advantage ...
SFC JONES: A temper has also got a ...
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Jones?
SFC JONES: A temper has also got a fly over the top so it's like having a vision of yourself camping in a tent that's got another liner over the top to allow the sun and heat coming in on top. You go outside and you see the blue out there, and that's what you're seeing is the liner top or the canvas on the top. But this configuration has withstood 60- to 70-mile-an-hour winds already and an enormous rainstorm. There's been hard rains here recently and going around the hospital itself, there's probably a few tents and pegs still fixing to come up but very few, very few. I'd say less than twenty throughout the whole hospital. Most of this tentage, as you see, is just one temper tent. It's a lot of canvas, a lot of tent.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. And MSG Maddox, your civilian occupation?
MSG MADDOX: I work for a steel company and an air conditioning [and] refrigeration company. Plus I'm in the Guard, so actually I work all the time.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Did you help out with the planning and did you do the heating and cooling system at the hospital?
MSG MADDOX: Well, I got with our distribution people (and we have some excellent folks do that) ... so basically all I did was retrack what they did. When you have people like we do with entire distribution, you know, they know exactly because they've worked with this on a 60- to 100-bed scale, but on a 400-bed scale, you know, it would be basically the same thing. But in this outline we had GP Larges which we never, you know, actually hooked up into the system itself. And most of the GP Larges did not come with the air conditioning vents, so we had to modify those. Our air conditioning and power folks had to do some reconfiguration of the power outlining that, also, because when you draw this up, you have to do a plan with GP Larges or you have to do a plan with Temper. We got a mixed configuration of both, so they had to re-do some configurations and modifications on the power outline itself, so SGT Riggs and SGT Vogler did a real good job, you know, putting the power in.
SSG KIRKLAND: These are your power and distribution people?
MSG MADDOX: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: They're active duty Army or ... ?
MSG MADDOX: They are National Guard, also.
SSG KIRKLAND: National Guard, also. They are part of the 109th Evac?
SFC JONES: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. Could somebody explain how the communications of the hospital is? Do you have enough telephones? Do you have enough radios?
SFC JONES: No.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, SFC Jones, could you explain a little bit about that?
SFC JONES: We only have four phones in the entire hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: Those are tactical phones?
SFC JONES: Those are just field phones.
SSG KIRKLAND: Field phones.
SFC JONES: We also, like in this office, we don't have any radio communication, any short-wave radios, AM [amplitude modulated], or any field phones at all. What we had to do is, like the OR [operating room] and the ICU [intensive care unit] share a phone for [INAUDIBLE]. The other phone is in the EOT and the other one is in the hospital headquarters. Communications, as far as inside this ... locating anybody in the hospital, we have to go find them. We do not have a radio, a good radio system. We were promised a minimum of fifteen field phones and we had a priority in the hospital--who got phones first. So, like I said, that's it.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you have an intercom system or some type of paging?
SFC JONES: We have no paging system, no intercom system. The only paging system is outside. The Commo [communications] Section is notified by EMT that they have to have a physician, they will announce it around the entire compound. We've had some difficulties in that because it's difficult to hear it inside here, because, again, you've got your generators running outside which cause problems hearing, plus you've got ... you normally don't hear anything outside. As far as internal communications, it is almost nonexistent.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. MSG Maddox or SFC Manley, do you have anything else to comment about communications, any type of quick fix that you can come up with and why the lack of communications, how come only four phones?
SFC MANLEY: I guess it's poor planning.
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Manley?
SFC MANLEY: It could be poor planning on our part, assessing our needs before we leave. Normally, we have a complete switchboard operation when we go to the field in our summer camps and we have excess, more phones than we need like for a tactical field problem. But poor planning, I feel, in our commo section in not assessing the needs of the hospital and not realizing the configuration and the enormous size of the area that we might cover. You can be sure trying to run around this place trying to find someone ... it's very difficult to do it when you're looking for another person. And that's basically what we've gotten used to having to do here.
SSG KIRKLAND: You've mentioned your summer camps. What do you do during your summer camps? Do you set up a whole entire hospital system?
SFC MANLEY: We've been training with the DEPMEDS configuration since 1986. In fact, we were the first Guard unit to receive DEPMEDS training and to receive DEPMEDS at the site, training site, to use.
Normally, when we go to camp, we would set up this configuration of 60 beds, up to 100 beds, and we would just practice setting it up, taking it down, and working with the different configurations within the set, such as putting an OR on one side and the other side, and work with different configurations of it.
We also had a mission three years ago in the Virgin Islands when Hurricane Hugo came through, and we took our hospital along, along with other equipment from ... like shelving ... and we set up a hospital down there in St. Croix as a facility. So we got some actual [experience] in setting up a functional hospital in some other situation. They used that hospital for about eight months before we came in and retrieved the equipment.
SSG KIRKLAND: How often do you deploy to world-wide situations?
SFC MANLEY: That's the first time that we've really been called up since ... .
SFC JONES: Panama.
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Jones, you said Panama?
SFC JONES: Yes, we were sent to Panama but we did not have DEPMEDS with us when they sent us to Panama. We were running under the old concept. That was in 1985. So, like SFC Manley said, we got it in '86. St. Croix was probably the first time since then that we've had it functional. But it is interesting that we were, like I say, the first to have it and the first to be sent somewhere to put it up. It's not an easy thing to do down there because everything was destroyed in St. Croix other than what you carried in.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, great. SFC Manley, did you have something to add about St. Croix?
SFC MANLEY: No, I was just going to add that every site is different. Here, you have flat ground and in St. Croix, we had a parking lot with the concrete bunkers and parking islands, so we had to build and configure the hospital around and through and all of this, so it seems like each time that you set up a hospital, it's a different set of circumstances.
We went to original training on the DEPMEDS equipment. I was told, "The site will be prepared for you. Engineers will go in and prepare the site and provide somebody at the site to work with." And the whole time that we've been putting up the DEPMEDS hospital, this has never happened. Here, we've had a couple of road graders and bulldozers to kind of push the dirt around a little bit. Thank goodness it's level land here. Down at St. Croix, we had sledge hammers and shovels to knock the berming out, to do it. In fact, it was on a kind of an incline where we had to set the hospital up.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. MSG Maddox, can you tell me if you've had enough transportation or not?
MSG MADDOX: Well, transportation has been a problem since we've gotten here. I think when we first got here, we had the busses which, you know, the troops transported on it, but basically all of the transportation we brought up here has been taken by the XVIII Corps, hasn't it?
SFC MANLEY: 44th Med[ical] Brigade.
MSG MADDOX: 44th Med Brigade. That's to get troops to the front line. We have enough just to do the basic functions around here, you know, like latrine duty. You have to have vehicles for that. Vehicles go retrieve stuff from KKMC. And that's basically it, you know. Motor pool has little or no vehicles at all, you know, just for basic needs.
But on comments on the equipment, after the war is over with, we'll still have equipment coming in. That's been one of our biggest problems is getting our equipment over here, you know. The staging plan from Fort Benning; sending equipment from Fort Benning to Jacksonville, Florida; and having it shipped overseas on the big ships--it's still coming in and the war is over. This is one of the biggest problems that should be addressed is getting the equipment, you know, like field phones. All our field phones is somewhere in port, so we have to borrow and scrounge. And all other units, too, you know, make do here.
So, I think that should be one of the biggest things that should be addressed on, you know, equipment-wise. If you're going to functionally pack from your unit, it ought to come over on the same boat. That way, you don't have to run back and forth to port, because we've spent many man hours going back and forth, retrieving our equipment.
Do you have anything on that, SFC Jones?
SFC JONES: No, I don't. It's just frustrating to have to work under conditions like at the start. Just like our B-bags. Our B-bags will probably arrive here when we're on the way back to Fort Benning. It's the same thing, like whenever they're off-loading in Dhahran from the ships, they unloaded the forklifts and then couldn't find them.
SSG KIRKLAND: They couldn't find the forklifts?
SFC JONES: They couldn't find the forklifts after they unloaded them. Or a 5-ton's missing. It was just one fiasco after another when it comes to that. I don't know if it's the merchant seamen or whoever is responsible for all the transportation, but it's almost a joke.
SSG KIRKLAND: Did this equipment show up at a later date?
SFC JONES: Some of it did. Some of the 5-tons showed up. Like MSG Maddox was saying, the best-laid plans go awry if you don't have everything arrive. If we'd had our equipment, if our equipment had arrived on time, when our main body arrived, our equipment should have been one week behind. Which would have made us have our equipment around the 10th of January. We would have had our equipment by the 10th of January and I believe our hospital would have been fully functional by the 1st or 2d of February. As it was, it wasn't fully functional until the 22d, two days before the war started. If the war had not been delayed, we would not have been ready to receive any patients.
I might add one other thing here. A while ago, you were talking about DEPMEDS. Something I want to mention to you is that we finally have a water system. We have never, ever trained for a water function for the hospital. We have just assumed that there would be water. In a hospital like this, the water system uses 28,000 gallons of water a day. So, these are the types of things that we have never done before but have had to lay the drains and plan for the equipment for drinking water. One of the problems here is that ... I hope in our after-action report a lot of shortfalls about that, the unique items.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Where do you get your water from?
SFC JONES: We had a company came and laid the water main for us, outside this berm all the way around. It also feeds the 15th. Tied off of that, we have a 20,000-gallon bladder northeast on the side of the hospital right here. We're supposed to have three 3,000-gallon bladders to go along with this to give us 29,000 gallons. That 20,000 gallons has been okay because I think our maximum percentage has been probably about what, 65?
MSG MADDOX: Ninety.
SFC JONES: Ninety has been our max[imum] since. But if we had had a full house, 400 beds, for sustainment, we would not have been able to function. And when you asked about supplies, it's the same way. In my opinion, if we had had to sustain, we'd have run out within five days because the supply channels weren't: everything from band-aids to, as Jim said, respirators.
So, we were very lucky, I think, as an evac, from the standpoint that we're very lucky as Americans to have such low casualties, because I would say 98 percent of all our people coming through here were okay.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. In the planning stages of setting down the hospital, did the water source have any type of bearing on the location?
SFC JONES: What we did, we built--in our initial planning, we built in a water system, in the case that we got one, that we had it already staged to where we were going to put it. If not, we were going to have to work out of five-gallon cans of water. Quite honestly. It's very, very difficult to operate out of portable sinks and such as that in the ORs. CMS takes a lot of water for autoclaves.
SSG KIRKLAND: And CMS stands for?
SFC JONES: Central Material Supply.
SSG KIRKLAND: An autoclave is?
SFC JONES: An autoclave is where you sterilize the instruments by steam.
SSG KIRKLAND: Steam, okay.
SFC JONES: The problem with the water system, it was actually designed by MAJ Springer who came here to this area, and the system was designed for the old-type sinks. We have the new-type field sinks, so none of the connections fit. So, they had to go back in and evaluate the sprinkler cables and make a lot of modifications. Just like out here in the hallway outside this office, we have water in here but its coming out of a spigot, but you can go get water and you can see in the immediate trouble and in the ICU and see portable sinks out of five-gallon cans. The water system is not designed to work that way in this hospital. So, yes, we've got water but we're operating it out of a nonfunctional system. It's working. Our main water source is to the OR and CMS.
SSG KIRKLAND: ORs and CMS?
SFC JONES: That's where your main supply of water comes from. So, planning this hospital, we had to make sure we located that water system so that that part of the hospital was together and the water would function up there.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. SFC Manley.
SFC MANLEY: In adding something about the water system, and to expound a little farther on SFC Jones' thing, our hospital uses a tremendous amount of water, so it's got to be located near an access of water. And I think that we're getting our water from an artesian well ...
SFC JONES: Artesian well.
SFC MANLEY: ... so I'm sure that in planning where to place the hospitals, this water supply point had to be established or a well had to be dug to get water to provide this amount of water. It would have been almost impossible to try to truck this amount of water in to a hospital, especially with the mountain they've got up here. It would have been almost like the fuel trucks. They'd have went back and forth bringing water up here. That's a consideration that has to be addressed when you're putting up a hospital this size, is water supply. And if you don't have it by a river or a lake, then you must dig a well to get it, because trucking a water system is an ineffective way.
It's the same way with waste disposal. We're making due, I guess, with a makeshift-type waste disposal system here due to the fact that you dig down two foot and you hit solid rock, and you don't have the capabilities of having a sewage lagoon to pump water out into and let it evaporate. Because here ... the masses that we're dumping out here, if it all went into a lagoon, it wouldn't evaporate. It would just sit and stand there. So it's just being kind of dispersed all around the environment and that in itself, for a sustainment period of time, would probably close this hospital, because you just can't go on dumping this amount of water, if we were running at capacity. It just wouldn't happen. It's the same with our latrines, same with our mess facilities. None of this area up here is suitable for a long period of time for a unit to function.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you bury the waste?
SFC MANLEY: We burn the waste and then we have a pit. And when you say bury it, the deepest you can bury it is about two or three feet and you hit rock, and then burn it and then cover it over.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. SFC Jones?
SFC JONES: It's designed, like on your medical waste, to be a three-part burn stage. We try to do that in the design of the part that's for the hospital, what we call wet waste, which means bandages, dressings and if there had to be some [body] parts or something that couldn't be identified, it would have to be done that way. But on the waste system itself, the XVIII Airborne Corps has put down some pretty hard policies about how you remove your waste. Such as they have one that tells us that we have to, on all of our dirty sharps ...
SSG KIRKLAND: Dirty whats?
SFC JONES: What we call "sharps," in other words, like scalpel blades or anything that has to be thrown away. It has to be disinfected, put into a 55-gallon drum and buried twenty feet. Well, you can't dig twenty feet in this place, so that's something that we're having to work through. Ideally, if we'd been in sand, we'd have no problem, but we're in solid rock.
SSG KIRKLAND: Could you get any engineer support to help you build or help you dig twenty feet?
SFC JONES: You can't get down twenty feet. We've had the engineers out here. We've had backhoes out here just to try to dig some. Two feet is all you're going to get because it is solid rock. And if you were to fill it up with water--we've even tried to do perc tests out here.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do what now?
SFC JONES: Percolation tests. Percolation tests to determine how much water will go through the ground in a given period of time. And water will not go down. It will stand there and look at you forever until it evaporates in the air. It just won't perc. The ground won't perc.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. MSG Maddox, do you have any comments about the waste disposal?
MSG MADDOX: Our Preventative Medicine Team has been real good. I mean, they're keeping everything clean and they're doing a real good job by that. And the waste water, you know ... this is the first time, like SFC Jones said, that we've actually had water pumped in and the waste taken away from the hospital.
But, also, we have a Rhodes oxygen supply which is new to us, you know. It's piped-in oxygen. We don't have to go with the tanks anymore. And it's new to us and, really, it has helped out but, you know, it's that short demand because we can't supply the whole hospital with it. We have it in some critical units but, you know, on the other hand, we're having to pick up our oxygen tanks and we're carrying tanks around with us. So, that's something the Army should look in on. If you're going to have a temper equipment or a DEPMEDS equipment, you should have the oxygen supply, the water treatment, and suitable waste control.
This is something we talk about at Fort Benning, you know, in the planning stages of this hospital. Are we going to have it or not? It's bad when you get over here and not know if you're going to get anything. You have it in your plans, but you have to plan not to have it, also, and what actions you'll take if you don't have it. So, you know, basically SFC Manley and SFC Jones have covered both sides of the story, you know. If we don't have it, what do we do? If we do have it, you know, we've got it, and we just go from there. So, if the Army is going to keep the DEPMEDS in effect, you know, they ought to look into better equipping the hospital and making sure the equipment is in a workable condition before we use it, instead of us getting it here and something will be wrong with it.
SSG KIRKLAND: What are the critical units?
MSG MADDOX: You've got ICU.
SSG KIRKLAND: Which is?
MSG MADDOX: The Intensive Care Unit. You have your OR, your EMTs, ICWs [Intermediate Care Wards].
SSG KIRKLAND: EMT is?
MSG MADDOX: Emergency Medical Treatment, which ... . In a Guard unit you don't have an EMT section because it doesn't say that in the TO&E. But when you get on active duty, you have to allow that and that pulls manpower from your other duties. And this is something the Army or whoever should look into, because if they expect you to do it, they ought to put in a TO&E for it. A Guard unit should have a functioning EMT section because the training aspects and the personnel that we use are not documented on our manning rosters. It's something they ought to look into.
SSG KIRKLAND: How many DEPMEDS are in country, and are they operated by National Guard units, or Reserve units, active duty?
MSG MADDOX: SFC Jones would know.
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Jones, do you know?
SFC JONES: I can tell you that at KKMC, when I was there earlier in December, the 86th Evac, which is under the 62d Med[ical] Group was under temper like we have here. There was an Air Force hospital there, which was, in total temper--for all their hospitals including sleeping quarters. And that's the way it should be. They are the only hospital I've ever seen that had temper they way it's designed to do in a hospital.
The Army, on the other side, seems to be coming up on the short end of the stick. They've still got their minimal care units in GP Larges. The Air Force has theirs in temper. The Army still has their people sleeping in tents with no heat or no heat at all, no cooling. The Air Force has it in total temper, heating and cooling.
So, yes, at KKMC, I've seen one hospital where the US Air Force was properly set up. Everything else is a mixture like we have, with tents as far as minimal care goes, and the rest of the hospital is in temper. The 5th MASH was there at one time under another group and they were in half and half, temper and tents. Everybody I've seen has been temper and tents, except for the Air Force.
SSG KIRKLAND: The Air Force is in temper?
SFC JONES: The Air Force is in total temper; everything. The Army is not. I might add, too, that ... to back up just for a minute, when you talked earlier about supplies, I work for a major manufacturing medical corporation. There are supplies that are in the Army system that are outdated that have been on recall. In our hospital alone, I have looked at chest drainage units that have been coming in from other areas--I won't name the manufacturers, but I will say that those particular units were on recall two years ago. I've seen supplies that my own company makes in the Army Depot that's three years old. It's still good but it's not the latest stuff. I've tried to make myself a journal on manufacturers, and on my after-action report supplies that the Army has in their system, in their depot system, that need to be closely reviewed because a lot of it is either outdated or recalled.
It's like ... it's as simple as a drain bag on a guy that's got a catheter in, or a woman that's got a Foley catheter in. The bags are the cheapest I've ever seen, and you can't operate that way, because you either get the--it's like preparing the Air Force down here with total temper. It's like preparing your supply system. Some of it may be great and may be the latest stuff but a lot of the supplies that I've seen, they're not. I'm only speaking as an independent medical manufacturing representative and what I've seen.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you know what the problem is for that?
SFC JONES: I've seen supplies from my own company in here and I can look at the lot number and tell you that it's manufactured eight months ago. I've seen some in here that's manufactured three years ago.
SSG KIRKLAND: Is anybody listening to you in the Army system?
SFC JONES: I don't know, but I'm certainly going to be on my after-action report for this hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, great. Do you have anything to add to that, SFC Manley?
SFC MANLEY: Yes, let me add one thing. One of the problems that I'm sure the Army is experiencing is that they, with the Total Force concept, they have relied on Guard and Reserve to augment probably up to 75 to 85 percent of their medical total force. And with most of the Army units, the Regular Army units speaking, when we have met with them and talked with them, they have no field experience. In other words, they are using all their resources for fixed facilities, such as Tripler Army Hospital, Martin Army Hospital, William Beaumont, Fort Sam Houston, the hospital out there. The major hospitals, the personnel they have are working in these fixed facilities.
So, they have been geared up in the last, I would say ten years, to ordering supplies not for field use but for fixed facility use. And it's been a big change to take these people out of the fixed facility mindset and address the supplies and the logistic needs to set up and operate a field hospital in a field environment. First, you have to introduce them to a field hospital and then you've got to go from there, from the structure of the field hospital, to what supplies are you going to need, to the staffing of it. And I think this was one of the things that the Army was lacking on when it got into this concept of using 80 percent of Guard and Reserve forces for its medical total force. It caught up with them here in Saudi Arabia when they started deploying the fighting force over here.
And I think it was addressed on one of the nightly news specials where a reporter was going through the Air Force saying, "Oh, what a nice set up you have here of your hospital." He went to the Navy and the Navy ships, you know, "you have these nice facilities." Then they walked into an Army and they said, "What do you have here? You can't do anymore than put a band-aid on someone." And I think it finally dawned on them that they have got to deploy an adequate treatment facility, which the DEPMEDS concept will do if it's given the, first, the manpower and, second, the equipment to function. And if it will do that, then the DEPMEDS concept would provide the very best care, medical care, that a soldier could get in modern-day combat under field conditions. But I think it's got to be addressed at a higher level, when you're looking at the way the Army is gearing itself up today.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Would you say that Guard and Reserve Units are more prepared and more qualified to be in a field environment than active duty personnel?
SFC MANLEY: Speaking from personal experience and what we have encountered with the Regular Army units here in country, the Guard and Reserve are far more prepared to serve in the field environment than the Regular Army. And I think it's due to the fact of staffing. You can't run at 100 percent efficiency with 80 percent being augmented by weekenders and reservists and National Guards. And when you have that, all your needs are directed to your fixed facilities, which does not give the enlisted or the officers the opportunity to go into the field environment and train.
SSG KIRKLAND: Is DEPMEDS an acronym?
SFC MANLEY: It's Deployable Medical Systems is what it stands for.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great.
[INTERRUPTION IN TAPE]
SSG KIRKLAND: This is a continuation of the interview. Okay, can somebody explain to me how the morale situation is in the 109th? MSG Maddox?
MSG MADDOX: Well, starting at Fort Benning, it had its pros and cons. We had a lot of folks that were interested because this was the first time they'd been put on active duty but you had some that, you know, didn't want to be here or, "I don't think I should be here."
After we left Fort Benning, we thought that it would get better once we got in country and got busy. But being in a place where you're just sitting around and stuff, you know, SFCs Jones, Manley and myself have not seen a whole lot of it because we've been either on advanced parties or have not been around our folks very much because we were in on the planning stages of this thing. From what we gather, from being with the folks here, now, morale is pretty good because everybody is busy. We have the PX [post exchange] now which, you know, takes a little of the stress away when you can go buy Cokes, drinks and snacks and goodies. And we have our rec[reation] tent established which helps folks when they get off work, you know, or after a 12-hour shift, go and relax, get a cold drink and go watch TV or a movie or something like this.
But before we had all these, like I stated, we haven't been around our people much, but morale at the White Elephant, where people were just cooped up like they were in prison, you know, we had a lot of edginess. You'd ask somebody to do something or tell somebody to do something and they'd be real edgy, because if you're cooped up in a place, you know, this is the way you're going to get. Like if SFC Manley asked one of his people to do something and they'd say, "Well, I'm not going to do it," or "I don't have to do that," you know. But I think since we've gotten out here to Log Base CHARLIE, the morale has picked up some. SFC Manley might want to comment on what he's seen of it.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, SFC Manley?
SFC MANLEY: I think MSG Maddox is absolutely right. When people are sitting around, you know, the old saying that the idle mind is the devil's workshop. Once we got to the area and we got to put the hospital up and got to functioning as a hospital, I think our problems decreased and the short attitudes and stuff. And of course, you're always going to have short attitudes when you start working long hours and people get tired and fatigued. Fortunately, we have had the opportunity to give some of our people some time off and to give them the opportunity to do some personal things--i.e., wash their drawers and uniforms. That's personal time off and absolutely, you know, essential time off.
But overall, I think the morale--the morale is not high, but it's not low. It's flowing along at a medium right now in that it can go either way, depending on how the war goes and what our mission remains to be in this country.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. And going back to the PX, do you know what the hours are?
SFC MANLEY: The PX hours are I think from 11:00 until 1:00 and 4:30 until 6:00 or 6:30.
SFC JONES: Until dark.
SFC MANLEY: Until they can't see anymore. They don't have any lights in the PX.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do they have plenty of supplies? How often do they restock?
SFC MANLEY: They restock when they run out, basically. They started out with I think it was a $10,500 stock load and it ranged from necessities to Cokes to nice-to-have-things. Of course, the good commander of the 62d said he didn't want junk food in there, so we didn't get much candy bars in the PX.
SSG KIRKLAND: The commander of the 62d has a lot of say about what goes on at the PX here?
SFC MANLEY: The commander of the 62d has a lot to say about everything that goes on at Log Base CHARLIE. He's in charge of it, the medical assets.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great.
[END OF SIDE ONE]
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Jones, do you have any comment about the morale?
SFC JONES: Other than just a comment about what MSG Maddox said. I think the biggest morale booster out here initially was a bath. They have a little bath and shower unit set up. But I think the rec tent, anything we can do inside this berm where we're sitting inside 1,000-by-1500 foot square ... if we were fully loaded with patients and fully staffed, we're talking about 1,000 people. They have worked long and hard and long hours. The Chief Nurse commented to us that, "Even though we are receiving 98 percent casualties [as] EPWs [enemy prisoners of war], and there is a language barrier, this medical staff and these professionals work and a lot of their morale has come from treating people, because that's what they do best. Seeing somebody, even though you can't speak the language, to hold your hand and hug your neck and try to say thank you." To me, that's the greatest morale booster that this hospital has had.
And you can't compare anything to that. Americans are grateful, don't get me wrong. But I think that the people that are dealing with them and what they see, and they've seen some of them die and they've seen a lot of them leave here, but I think they're grateful to see that they seem genuinely thankful. To me, that's been the greatest reward.
SSG KIRKLAND: Would you say the same thing, that that would be one of the greatest rewards, MSG Maddox?
MSG MADDOX: It is one of the greatest rewards, when you see somebody come in moaning and bleeding and leave here and, you know, you shake his hand and, you know, he's really grateful for what you've done to him because you could have saved his life. And you talk about the EPWs, they sense that you care about them. And like one of them said through a translator, you know, "This is not my war. This is Hussein's war and the only reason I'm here is to get my family back." They're grateful. They're grateful to be in this hospital, and that is a reward and a morale booster for a lot of these young kids that have never been to war or never seen a real casualty before. You've got people that are in the civilian world that do not do nursing or 91C and this has been a real reward because a lot of them come up to SFC Manley and myself and say, "Hey, this is what I done for this guy." And one of them, one of the EPWs, has given one of our men his choice of daughters.
SSG KIRKLAND: Has he taken up the offer? [LAUGHTER]
MSG MADDOX: No, he's married at home. His wife would probably kill him if he did. But this is how they feel towards us for helping them out and I think it's been a great reward for these young guys that have worked on this hospital, and so it's a big morale boost to see the goodness come out of it.
SSG KIRKLAND: What did this American do that was so nice to this EPW for him to want to offer his daughter?
MSG MADDOX: He's our power distribution man, air conditioning--Cory Riggs. He's about 280 pounds. He's a good-sized fellow. He'd just cut up with him, come by. He's our good humor wagon around here. He carried him through the hospital on the litter. When we have litter bearers, he's on the litter team. He assured this guy that he was all right, you know, held his hand and held on to him through hours of need, and this man has not forgotten it, you know, even though he's been in the hospital two or three days. SGT Riggs goes through the hospital to each one of these EPWs. Each one of these guys does not hold a grudge against anybody, and he's held his hand, tried to talk to him, communicate with him, and, you know, they're big buddies around there. This is what his reward to Cory was, was to give him a choice of daughter, which he has fifteen kids and ten of them are daughters; four wives.
SSG KIRKLAND: Four wives and fifteen children?
MSG MADDOX: He didn't offer him a wife, though.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you know approximately how old this gentleman is, the EPW?
SFC MANLEY: He's 56.
SFC JONES: 58.
MSG MADDOX: He's in his fifties. He has, to me, when I walk in the ward, the first thing he'll do when he sees me is throw up his hand and wave, "Hey," you know. That's the kind of people these are, you know. You'll walk around and see some of them give you the evil eye, or "What am I doing?" They're scared. These folks are really scared to be in this hospital, and we try to assure these folks that, you know, they're in good hands; that we're not their enemy; and we just sort of pat them and just try to treat them like, you know, our own. The American soldiers that are wounded at war here, they had a different war. We try to separate the EPWs from the Americans. They hold no grudges against these boys. It's been a morale booster for some of our boys that go in there just to see them and try to talk to them, through the interpreter. It's been a morale booster for them, I believe, also.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do many of the EPWs know English?
MSG MADDOX: No, not really. They just know a few words like "Okay" and--what's the other word they use?
SFC JONES: Morphine and Valium.
MSG MADDOX: They know "pain." But you know, some of the nurses have drawn pictures and they can relate to the pictures, you know, like "time," and "towels" or "bath," and stuff like that. They've drawn pictures through the interpreter and that's how they communicate with the patients if the interpreter is not here.
SSG KIRKLAND: What type of care do they get? Do they get to take a bath or a shower a day?
MSG MADDOX: We have shower units for patients and we have our EPW showers and we separate those. They have their latrines. The ones that are ambulatory, you know, we'll take them out and let them take showers or go to the bathroom and, you know, the ones that are in bed, they get a bed bath or whatever, you know. They're real sensitive about, you know, their customs. I know we had an incident where a man had to go to the bathroom and he wouldn't go unless we draped a sheet around him.
SFC MANLEY: We had to drop a sheet over him.
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Manley?
SFC MANLEY: One of the EPWs in the ward needed to use a bedpan, so in a regular hospital, you just kind of brings the drapes around and drape it off, and give them a bedpan, and let them do their business. Well, this guy, he didn't want it draped around. He wanted the sheet thrown over his head, where he could kind of squat down on the bedpan beside his bed. That was the type of situation he wanted. But even just some of the corpsmen on the ward talk about when they took them out to the latrines, instead of sitting on the latrines, they'll jump up on the latrines and kind of squat down like a big bird. They won't sit down on the latrines. I guess it's different cultures. That's just their way of doing things.
To expound a little bit further on this war, it's almost like we're at war but we're not at war with these people. The people that come in here, it's hard to think that they were actually out to try to kill us at one time and now that we have wounded them and brought them in, it's strange to go out on the battlefield and we're actually picking up their casualties and bringing them in and treating them.
And they're getting the very best care that they could ever get in modern warfare. I mean, this is better care than they could get in Iraq, pre-war, they're getting here in this hospital and the other hospitals down the line. And it's been an eye opening experience for myself and I know it's got to be for the other people that's seeing these people come in. I've yet to see any malice or hatred or ill will displayed by any of the EPWs. It's either, you know, they look at you and kind of ... you want to think in suspicion, but it's got to be I guess they don't know how to take, you know ... I guess they've been told that we're going to hurt them or we're going to do something to them. It's just not happening, you know. We're treating them. We're making them feel good. We're accommodating them. We're waiting on them almost hand and foot. This has been catching them really off guard. To me, it's ... how can these people go back to their country and have a person like Saddam tell them that we're the evil, "the great Satan" and "the infidels," when they've been treated this way by us?
And I hope the other hospitals are doing the same thing. And if they're not, they're being remiss in an opportunity to tell the world, you know, the true type that the Americans are. I certainly hope they are, because what greater thing can these people go back and say than, "How I was treated by the Americans in a hospital," you know. I can't imagine them saying anything bad about the treatment they got here. It would have to be all good because there hasn't been anything that I've seen or heard that's been negative.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. You have latrines for EPWs and you have latrines for the American and Allied Forces patients?
SFC MANLEY: These are separated, right.
SSG KIRKLAND: What is the reason that they are separated?
SFC MANLEY: One thing was for their modesty because of the different cultures they have and, two, at first, we thought that they may have been infected with some lice or something like this, and to keep from having to treat and disinfect and clean out the whole hospital for bugs, it's easier to separate them. But, so far, we have not identified the first case of lice on any of them, so that idea wasn't borne out. I don't know if any of the other hospitals have encountered any problems like that, but it's better to be safe and provide for it than not provide for it and end up having your hospital infested.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. What types of patients are on the ward that you're the NCOIC of, the intermediate care ward?
SFC MANLEY: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: What types of injuries do the EPWs come in with?
SFC MANLEY: They have anywhere from lacerations to broken bones to amputations, chest wounds. Once they are recovered from the ICU and they're not on a respirator, they can be transferred over to the ICW to free up the beds in the Intensive Care for the more critical need patients. And although they will still get their critical needs over in ICW, we're just not as elaborately set up with the monitors and the cardiac machines and the oxygen that they have over in the ICU, so it's kind of a step down and it's a step up as far as their health care and their level of health care. They have improved to that stage to be stepped down to my ward, to step up in their medical condition.
SSG KIRKLAND: And about how many patients are presently on that ward?
SFC MANLEY: Right now, we have approximately fifteen. We had a high of 48 at one time.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you expect more to be coming in soon?
SFC MANLEY: We have heard that we will be getting more again. When the helicopter lands, we've got patients, and that's kind of the attitude that we've been taking.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. SFC Jones, do you have any comment about the EPWs on the ward that you're NCOIC of?
SFC JONES: Well, I'm not actually NCO of any ward. I'm the Assistant to MSG Maddox. Ours are just the overall view of the hospital and what's going on. We do go on the wards and check patients, though. SFC Manley, after they leave SFC Manley, they go to what we call minimal care.
SSG KIRKLAND: Minimal care?
SFC JONES: Minimal care, it means just that. It's what we call the walking wounded. They can walk and get around. It's a step down, so there's a process that they go through here of stepping down as their care improves, or the patient improves, then they step down in the type of care that they need. I think the highest that we've had has been about 90.
SSG KIRKLAND: Ninety?
SFC JONES: A total of 90 EPWs at one time. Like he said, it just depends on what they bring in. We've seen some come in with burns, but a lot of orthopedic cases recently. We don't know why, but there are just a lot of orthopedic cases now. It depends on where they pick them up. We don't know where these people are coming from. We don't have any idea what part of Iraq they're from. SFC Manley's ICW is equipped to handle 160, so we'll see what kind of capabilities he has.
SSG KIRKLAND: [Have] any civilians come in?
SFC JONES: No, we haven't had any civilians.
SSG KIRKLAND: No civilians?
SFC JONES: No.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, great. SFC Manley, what about on the ward that you're in charge of? Have any civilians come in?
SFC MANLEY: No civilians. We haven't treated any civilians to date.
SFC JONES: No civilians in the hospital at all.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. MSG Maddox, what's the diet like for the EPWs?
MSG MADDOX: The diet can run from anywhere like on the ICU ward where they're intravenously fed or on a liquid diet. On SFC Manley's ward, they're a step down from an ICU. They can still be on a liquid diet or a soft diet. They could be put on regular diets. It all depends. Doctors really vary on their patients. This is up to the doctor, on what type of diet they're on. Food Services supplies different type meals for them and, really, it just depends on the type of a situation a person is in, you know, like if he's had surgery, he would probably be on a soft diet. If he was a leg, broke leg, femur, anything like that, he could be on a regular diet, you know. It all depends. The doctor really puts the patient on the diet, so if the situation calls for a diet, the doctor determines that.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Concerning the patients that are on the minimal care ward, what types of things would they have?
MSG MADDOX: They were ... basically, what is it, B-rations, that they get? B-rations, which consists of, you know, like a regular diet, you know. Some of them could be a high finishing diet or just a regular diet--like steak, potatoes--or, you know, it could be a chicken diet or, you know, just basically what B-rations consist of. Most of the folks on the minimum care ward are, you know, just on the ... just a regular diet like everybody else, but when we go to the mess hall, we get Ts (T[ray Pack]-rations), MREs [Meals, Ready-toEat] and stuff, so they're on a different diet than we are, but basically it's just a normal, every day meal for us.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you respect their customs and religion and keep out the pork products?
MSG MADDOX: Well, we have no control over that now, you know. At mess hall, if there are EPWs, I think our mess section would respect it, but I have not checked on the pork products. I would imagine ... I don't know, have you had pork products?
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Manley, could you comment on that?
SFC MANLEY: From the experience that I've seen, the one meal I've seen served, they had the pork chops and they didn't turn them down. Most of the EPWs have real healthy appetites and whatever you put before them, they're going to pretty much eat it.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do they know what they're eating?
SFC MANLEY: I don't know. I don't think anyone can tell them. We can't speak their language. They may think it's beef, you know. If you've never had pork, how do you know what it tastes like, if you've never had it and you've never seen it prepared? They were eating it and enjoying it. We might have started a new fad. We may ship some hogs up here to Iraq. [LAUGHTER]
We're not doing it on purpose, you know. The Army is set up on the 30-day meal thing or 7-day meal thing and whatever comes up on the roster for that day for the rations, then that's what they've got to serve. It's irrespective. They can't get into the thing of cooking pork for the American casualties and then turn around and cook beef for the EPWs. I just don't foresee the Army doing that, you know. They'll either eat it or do without and, of course, there's other vegetables and deserts and milk and 7-Ups and Cokes, you know. They're not going to go hungry if they decide not to eat the meat and who knows what kind of meat sometimes we serve in these mess halls? They can tell me it's pork and it might be beef. It might be beef and it might be pork. You've eaten in a mess hall. Sometimes it's mystery meat.
I just don't think that it's important to these patients whether it is beef or pork they're getting. The main thing is they're hungry and it's a meal, and they've been devouring it, clearing their plates of it.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Where do the patients go once they are no longer qualified or they no longer need to go to the minimal care units?
SFC MANLEY: Okay. They will be transferred to a ... if they still need some type of medical treatment, they will be sent to a medical holding area for prisoners of war. If they have been determined to be discharged from the hospital, then they will go to a POW camp awaiting the reunion back with their country at some other time.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. SFC Jones, could you tell me a little bit about the working relationships of the people in this hospital?
SFC JONES: Well, I think most of us ... . First of all, let me clarify a little bit. This is the first time that I can recall since we were activated that our entire unit is together. We have had a detachment from the hospital every time we went before. But normally, we're tasked for our summer camp, so-called, with a lot of different missions. We have not, to my knowledge, gone as a total unit to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where we do most of our training. I can't remember when we did, because our total number of people is 385, and that's the total complement, officer and enlisted. And so here, we've got everybody together for the first time. As I said earlier, usually, we have to support at least six or eight different camps during the course of the year for their training, so we're not always together to do our training except when we're doing DEPMEDS training or retraining on the DEPMEDS and that's mandatory.
So, as far as the people coming together, it is an experience. And some are getting to know each other for the first time on what each can do. I think as a unit itself, the unit is good. I feel like that anybody who comes here will get the best medical care that they can get. We have some problems in some areas. We're always going to have them.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Could you ... ?
SFC JONES: They're just internal problems that you have to deal with. But as far as patient care goes, it doesn't interfere with the patient care. We have had some problems, still have some problems with some individuals, and like SFC Manley said earlier, a lot of them ... MSG Maddox said, a lot of them, it may be for the first time in their life they've been on active duty in this environment. Some people are having a hard time coping with that. And I think out of this office, what we have to do as senior NCOs is we have to make sure that our junior NCOs and our Ward Masters take care of them because they can get stressed out real easy from the demands that's put on them and the hours. We have to keep reminding them.
SSG KIRKLAND: What type of hours are the people putting in?
SFC JONES: Twelve-hour shifts at the present time. If we have a mass-cal, a mass casualty is called, then your hours are going to be longer.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. How much longer?
SFC JONES: It just depends on the number of patients. A mass-cal is called from the EMT. The EMT will make that determination based on the number of casualties that are coming in. If we only have ten or twelve coming at the same time, we won't call a mass-cal, but if we know that we've got a chopper coming in with 30 patients on board and we know that it's coming, we'll call a mass-cal and that brings every member of the hospital staff in here. It brings 40 litter bearers to the front door. So, you may have somebody that's on shift and may have just got off and they'll be coming back, but we had a mass-cal call the other day at 12:30.
SSG KIRKLAND: 12:30 in the afternoon?
SFC JONES: At 12:25 hours, so it was not called off until like 1630, so you had people hitting in the middle of the shift, so that you had your night shift off and they were all called in, so they had to turn around at 1630, probably get them a bite to eat, and come back at 1900. So it happens.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do these people ever get any time off or do they continuously work?
SFC JONES: We're trying to give them time off as the patient loads have reduced.
SSG KIRKLAND: Right.
SFC JONES: What we're doing today is we're having an eight-hour shift drawn up and even though we haven't gone into eight-hour shifts at this time, we anticipate going into eight-hour shifts real soon. If the patient loads continue to dwindle down, we will go to eight-hour shifts probably.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. MSG Maddox, could you explain a little bit about the working relationships?
MSG MADDOX: Towards what, officer and enlisted, enlisted and enlisted, or what?
SSG KIRKLAND: Just in general terms: people being activated who had never really, really known what to do with their job.
MSG MADDOX: Well, you can be on the ward and see some of these folks that never have worked in a hospital. They've gone to the schools to get MOS [military occupational specialty]-qualified but, you know, like we had some just get out of school prior to coming in here. Patient care to them is, you know, through school or three hours a day. And when they get pushed into a 12-hour situation, they sort of jump back at first, you know, and say, "Well, hey, I'm here longer than three or four hours," or "I'm here more than two weeks." You know, we're used to a two-week summer camp but now, we're here until, you know, Uncle Sam lets us go.
The working relationships between them, realizing, you know, "I'm here. I'm going to have to do the best job I can for these folks here," is going real well. The relationships between them and their nurses, you know, the nurses are here to assess the patient care, you know, as much as possible, working with a 91C, which is an LPN in civilian life. They're taught to do all the patient care necessary for any type of patient we have.
From what SFC Jones and I have observed from going from ward to ward is they're real enthusiastic about jumping in, you know, and taking charge and we really have no problems, you know, with our Charlies jumping right in and working alongside the nurses. We have 91As, which is a basic medic, you know, with minimum care practices. Their job is to, you know, like assist. And our Charlies have been real helpful, you know, with them, you know, showing them techniques on the correct way to put the bandages on or change dressings or irrigate wounds or whatever. From what I can see, you know.
The relationship towards them to the Chief Ward Master, myself, or a Ward Master here, we have an open door policy here. We sleep here in this tent and we're on call basically 24 hours a day. We have folks coming in at all hours of the night, you know, to woke one of us for advice, you know, "What should I do?" you know, or "How do I go about this?" So, you know, relationship between enlisted and enlisted, to enlisted to enlisted or enlisted to officer or officer to officer: to me, it's, you know, if you put it on a scale of one to ten, I'd say it would be eight and a half to nine, you know. We're not perfect but, you know, we're at a pretty high extreme level for patient care and working relationships, you know, in the hospital area.
On the other side of the road where the First Sergeant takes over, I have no idea because this is a job which takes two people and the cooperation of every Ward Master here. This is what we tried to get over to our Ward Masters, you know. If you treat your folks right, they're going to work for you. Have an open door policy for them. And this is what we tried to create amongst the three of us, you know, here. We're here 24 hours a day and the door is always open, so the working relationship, I'd say, was real good.
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Manley?
SFC MANLEY: One thing let me add. One of the major characteristics that you have in the military is in the 91C which, in civilian terms, that's an LPN, a licensed practical nurse or a licensed vocational nurse, is what they're called in the civilian. But in the military, the 91C functions, his duties, go beyond that of the civilian, what he's allowed to do in civilian life or she's allowed to do in civilian life. And I keep referring to "he." We have a lot of male 91Cs in the unit so it's not a gender MOS. It's a cross-section of both male and female and primarily, we have more male 91Cs than we do female 91Cs in this unit.
But here, in the military sense, a Charlie can suture wounds, a Charlie can start IVs [intravenous], he can do push packs on medications, he can do IV pushes, and these things would never happen in a civilian hospital. His or her duties are greatly expounded here in the military. And basically, a 91C can do everything an RN [Registered Nurse] can do except hang blood, and that's the only limitation. That is the difference between the Charlie and the RN in the military setting. And I think that they accept this responsibility, and a lot of them enjoy doing it, you know, because these are areas that they're not allowed to do if they practice civilian-wise as an LPN or an LVN. So, as far as a learning situation for them on how to do it, plus it's an enjoyment to be able to do these practices that they are not allowed to do in the civilian side of the house.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, once this is all over with and you get back to your unit, some of these people that have taken on additional responsibilities, will those be taken away and they'll just do every day mundane types of things for their monthly drill?
SFC MANLEY: We'll go back. The whole origin of the Guard and, of course, you being a member of the reserve force also ... our mission is training, and we train with what resources we have to train with, and in the detachment in the hospital with the 109th, I'm tasked as Training NCO. And we try to do our best to keep up with the current levels of training with the equipment that we have to train with. Now, we are hampered by not having enough supplies and equipment to do adequate training. We have to resort to the TMs [technical manuals] and the FMs [field manuals] and the [DA]-PAMs [Department of the Army Pamphlets] and stuff like this; the SQTs [skill qualification tests]; a lot of your videotapes and that type of training.
Whenever possible, we do have the hands-on training to keep up the medical skills. Being a medical unit, it's harder to train, practicing you using your medical skills, because nobody wants to lay down and let them start an IV or draw blood on each other, you know. That's one of the drawbacks of it. How else do you get this practice except watching it on tape, looking at technique? You know, you can go through some of the procedures, i.e., sterile fields and drapes and things like this, but doing some of the actual patient care, you only get this during summer camp or in an experience as we've had here or like in Panama or in the Virgin Islands. And we ... actually, in the Virgin Islands, we didn't get the opportunity to do it down there except for our own people, because we set the hospital up and turned it over to the civilians to run. So you really don't have the opportunity unless there is a war or a national emergency, to practice your skills and what you learn from day-to-day or on weekend drills.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do you have any personnel shortages?
SFC MANLEY: Personnel shortages?
SSG KIRKLAND: Yes.
SFC MANLEY: We have experienced ... we've been augmented, I guess, about 50 personnel, total, since we started getting these people called fillers at Fort Benning; and continued to get them right up to the day of the war. And they are called fillers but we don't like to refer to them as that. They've become part of the unit. We've tried to make them feel at home. Being from the South, I guess we have southern hospitality. We had the experience that we talked about earlier in the tape, with the 15th, how we were treated. And we vowed then that we would go back and if there were any shortcomings with the people being attached to us, we were going to try to make sure that this didn't happen to them and that we always made them feel welcome and wanted, and we don't call them fillers anymore. They're part of the 109th and they will be until we get back to Fort Benning and we go home and they go home or wherever they go. That's the way we feel about them and I think that's the mutual consensus of the unit now. These people have become a part of us.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay.
SFC MANLEY: Although some of them do talk funny. [LAUGHTER]
SSG KIRKLAND: How do you deal with those personnel who don't feel that they should be here?
SFC MANLEY: That's always hard. No one likes to ... and when you're speaking of don't want to be here, you're talking about their attitudes?
SSG KIRKLAND: Exactly.
SFC MANLEY: And forms of discipline problems?
SSG KIRKLAND: Right.
SFC MANLEY: I thought that's what you were going to talk about. That's an area that's always touchy with any unit. Being a Guard unit--and you can relate to it, being a reserve--the people that serve, you're in with them. You have a comradeship with these people. They've been in the unit. You've seen them grow up. A lot of the kids come in and have been in four, five, six years, and you become kind of like a family. And it's always hard to discipline, you know, people, because no matter how you try to avoid it, being in leadership roles you always develop friendships and likes being in a Guard unit and a Reserve unit, because you don't have the constant flow of transferring in, transferring out, the way the Army does it.
So, these people, you come to know them over the years. Like SFC Jones, we've been knowing each other for fourteen years and Billie, about the same amount, and, you know, we've come to be friends. It's hard. It would be hard for me to discipline one of them or vice-versa, you know, wearing the hat. And the same thing comes down to your people, although some people, you have to do it. I mean, their behavior or their attitudes deem it. And when this happens, it's always difficult because you always go through almost a ten-point process, you know. Well, what about this? How come so-and-so didn't get it? Why didn't you do this to what-do-you-call-it? That's the problems you have in a Guard unit. Discipline has really been a problem with this unit, enforcement of discipline and being able to deal with it. I don't know if other units are having the same problems. I don't foresee the Regular Army having this type of problems, but I would think that Reserve units and Guard units would have this type of problem.
SSG KIRKLAND: Does it affect the mission in any way?
SFC MANLEY: The mission has not been affected by it. We've tried to ... and we haven't had that much of a disciplinary problem, you know. Don't get me wrong. There's been a few people that have decided they wanted to go their own way and, in some cases, we've let them do that. The mission of the unit has always been paramount and will be paramount. There's no way to get around that. If you're going to violate the mission, you're not going to be in the unit. I think that's--that can't be put any clearer than that.
Our mission was to come over and provide the very best medical care that we can for our soldiers, and we're going to achieve that one way or the other, you know, and we're not going to let some attitudes or some people stop that. If they don't want to be here, you know, then that can be arranged, also. In some cases, it has been arranged.
SSG KIRKLAND: What have you done?
SFC MANLEY: There have been some people transferred out of the unit to other units.
SSG KIRKLAND: They can do that?
SFC MANLEY: Oh, yes.
SSG KIRKLAND: They can transfer from one Reserve unit to another Reserve unit while they've been here?
SFC MANLEY: Right.
SSG KIRKLAND: And what did they have to do to go through that?
SFC MANLEY: Basically, you know, it's administrative action that is taken against them. They have ... in some cases they've been disrespectful to officers; attitude problems. I guess it's kind of like a kid, a juvenile that's become incorrigible, and he's been taken away from his parents and placed in foster care or in a juvenile home. And there are some officers here that you won't fool with, that this kid has been pulled from his parent unit that they've placed with a foster unit somewhere down the road, in hopes that separating them from the unit, they will have a fresh start and be able to function in their mission down there.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, great. MSG Maddox, do you have any comments on the disciplinary problems?
MSG MADDOX: Well, as SFC Manley has stated, you know, you get to know these folks and when you get put on active duty, you know, it's hard to come up to say to somebody, "Hey, SFC Manley," because we're usually on a first-name basis and we have to catch ourselves, you know. Being together like SFC Jones, he'll call me, "Hey, son, come here," because he feels like he's raised me from a pup and he calls this fellow here "Junior" because he's a junior E-7. It's just friendships.
That comes along with being with people for a long period of time ... but putting our people against any Army medical unit ... you know, I believe we can outdo them hands down because we are close bond. We don't have all the fighting and mixed emotions like Regular Army people would have. We bond together and, you know, you give us a mission and all SFC Manley has to do is say, "Hey, let's outdo the ICU section," you know: it's just like a competition, you know, like a game. This is the way we look at it, you know. We're one big family, try to be, you know. We have our ups and downs. We have our quarrels. Sometimes they have a few fights but, you know, we all come ... when the going gets tough, you know, we bond together.
And I think it's good, in a sense, to have this, but like SFC Manley said, discipline-wise, it's hard to discipline somebody you've been with fourteen or fifteen years; when you see this man on the street in civilian clothes, or work with them or he may be your boss at work and you're his boss at the Guard. I mean, it has its ups and downs and it's hard to discipline, but our mission comes first: to save lives and do the best patient care we can. If anybody tries to defeat our mission, we have to deal with them and that's what we've done in most cases, you know.
SSG KIRKLAND: Great. SFC Jones, do you have anything to add?
SFC JONES: Just to comment a little bit further on what they're talking about. It is hard to discipline somebody but I think that as long as--you know, we were talking awhile ago, like MSG Maddox said, about keeping an open door policy. And we try to keep that really open door with our NCO staff. And as long as we've got that, then we can talk about it and what we would rather do before we discipline anybody.
We will know, before we discipline, all the facts. We're not going to jump on somebody because of hearsay. We're just not going to do it. We will examine it, look at it. In some instances already, it has affected some military career, I'm sure. But that was explained. It had to be done. To my knowledge, it's the first time I've ever seen anybody removed from our unit, but it's probably best for that individual. And I'm sure it's best for some of the areas around here.
It's not a pleasant thing, but it was something that sort of had to be done. It is never pleasant, but at the same time, I know in my civilian job, I have to do job performances. It's just like a job performance. Nobody likes it. Nobody likes to be critiqued; every critique is bad. We self-critique ourselves. Maybe it's something we didn't do, but the three of us will find out and we will do it if we have to. We have to be firm in what we do. It's never pleasant but sometimes, it has to be done.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. How is the mail?
SFC JONES: The mail. Let's see, I got a letter the other day from December 24th. I got my Christmas cards. The mail has been up and down. I think once we finally got to this location, it has picked up for us and we're receiving it. The mail I'm receiving personally now is about two weeks old. Yet, there's still some that's backlogged in the system. We do have a mail clerk and it's a very popular time of the day. We are getting the mail now on a daily basis.
SSG KIRKLAND: Great.
SFC JONES: I'm still waiting for my peanut butter fudge I've been promised by my family. [LAUGHTER]
SFC MANLEY: SFC Jones gets a lot of letters but he don't get many goodie boxes. We tease him that we can't eat his letters. We want goodie boxes.
SSG KIRKLAND: So, how are the boxes? They're coming before the letters?
SFC MANLEY: It seems like the boxes are getting here quicker than the letters are, you know. It takes about ten days to get a box over here and sometimes a month to get a letter over. I don't know what the difference is. It seems like the letters ought to come faster.
SSG KIRKLAND: And what postal unit processes this mail?
SFC MANLEY: I've got no idea but I'd like to find them because they lost two weeks of our mail and got it wet and they ended up burning it, I heard.
SSG KIRKLAND: Any comments on the mail, MSG Maddox?
MSG MADDOX: The mail has been a big morale booster since we've been at Log Base CHARLIE. When we were at KKMC or out on the advance party, we wasn't getting mail except if the truck happened to come in, they would bring our mail to us. Since we've been here, the mail has been on time. Everyone enjoys reading everybody else's, like if I get a letter or a card, you know, I'll share it with SFC Jones. He gets a lot of tapes from his church. He shares them with us. Manley, he gets a lot of packages and we eat all his food. [LAUGHTER] But the mail has been real good since we've been at Log Base CHARLIE.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Back to the EPW thing, when you get an EPW, how is he processed here into the hospital?
MSG MADDOX: The EPW, when he lands in a chopper here, the ambulance brings him to a point which we call our triage point. This triage point is where you evaluate a person's need or the route he's going to take through the hospital. This is serious route, the triage ... EMT. EMT is where your doctors are located which will assess him, the vital assessment there and then, you know, to OR. But once an EPW gets here, we put them in the triage area. And our higher headquarters says they have to be stripped completely before they enter the hospital. There, they are hit with our NBC folks which have a--what do you call that?
SFC MANLEY: A sniffer.
MSG MADDOX: It's an electronic sniffer which finds out if they, you know, have chemicals or whatever on them. If they're clear of chemicals, they enter the hospital fully naked with a sheet over them. That's how your EPW start arriving at the hospital.
If the wound is serious, they'll go to EMT and one of the doctors will make their assessment there. From there, he is carried to OR. OR does surgery. They go straight to ICU. If the EPW comes in and he's stripped and triage says that, you know, he's not immediate, he's a minimum or a delayed, he'll go to one of the wards specified by the OIC [officer in charge] of the triage area. So that's how they get into the hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: Does an interpreter come and explain what's happening to him?
MSG MADDOX: Well, it happens so fast that an interpreter would probably be in the way, you know. There, you know, time is someone's life and we have a team specially, you know, to remove clothes and to search his clothes. We have a team, our NBC team, which has the electronic sniffer on him to see if the chemicals are there. While the people are doing the assessment of the casualty, these folks are interacting with them. It takes time and a lot of training. It helps, you know, if nobody else is in the way. When they're in EMT, the interpreter is not in there unless he's called for because EMT is really a place where seconds are somebody's life. So, you know, even the litter bearers that bring them in, they're instructed to sit the patient down and get out. And there, you know, the EMT folks do their job and then from there, they go to wherever the doctor, you know, pushes them: you know, like OR, ICU, ICW or Minimum Care.
So, actually, fot the first three stages of the casualty, you know, an interpreter, litter bearer, they'd just be in the way if they just stood around. We worry about a person's life instead of, you know, what he's saying. A doctor can look at someone that's been shot in the chest and know just where the hurt is coming from without somebody telling him. The translators are in ICW and the ICU Wards mainly. Once they get stabilized, they can tell us what's going on.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. SFC Manley, do you have something to add?
SFC MANLEY: To elaborate a little bit further on what MSG Maddox was saying, the standard of care is no different for an EPW than that of an American casualty on the battlefield. What we've seen a lot of times that--where an interpreter may have helped out--we get a lot of our casualties that have been treated by a MASH hospital or a CSH hospital forward, and then shipped in here. When he comes in here, we may find some secondary wounds or something that was not treated at the time because those hospitals treat the most serious or life-threatening wounds or injuries that they find on the person at the time, stabilize them and get them back to us.
So, at that time, an interpreter might be helpful, you know, if he's got a piece of shrapnel that's down here on his leg that, you know, from all other indications, his leg is okay, and here, he's got a big gaping hole in his chest and that's what we're going to treat and everybody has been looking at. So, until a person is getting to the point where he gets in ICU or ICW, as MSG Maddox said, where we do get an interpreter, then he's able to point out his other ills or injuries or aches for us to pinpoint those. You know, we're going to treat it and he's going to get the level of care that's the same as anyone else, but it is also possible that an injury can be missed.
Even in civilian emergency rooms where everybody speaks the same language, I can give a perfect example of that. In 77, I had a motorcycle wreck. My arm was broken in seven places and I woke up in the hospital the next morning. Of course, I had my cast on my arm and two weeks later, I'm sitting here playing with my little finger and I noticed that when I pulled my finger down, it wouldn't go back up. I went in and talked with the doctor and he says, "Well," he said, "you had so many broken bones in that one arm, I didn't notice that one there in your finger." I had it broken and I've still got a stiff knuckle here.
So, it can happen, you know, that injuries can be overlooked. Not because it's neglect. It's just they treat the most serious and work their way down, and as you find the others, they'll treat those. But they're not going to get ... there's not two levels of care going on in this hospital. There's one level of care and that's the very best.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Are the EPWs specially tagged?
SFC MANLEY: They have a field tag on them designating that they are an EPW. They are given a number because we do not know their names. We have no way of knowing who their names are.
SFC JONES: It's on the red arm band.
SSG KIRKLAND: A red arm band?
SFC MANLEY: It's an arm band. Other than that, there's no other way of ... they don't look like us.
SSG KIRKLAND: Do they try to take that identification off of them?
SFC MANLEY: We haven't had that to happen yet.
SSG KIRKLAND: No problems, okay. You have an EPW who is critical and then you have an American who might have a broken leg or just a broken arm. Who are you going to treat first?
SFC MANLEY: The EPW.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great.
SFC MANLEY: The classification of patients is the way they're going to be treated and if you have a critical EPW, he's going to be treated first and the patient with a broken leg is going to be treated in the next available time. There's no difference.
SFC JONES: At this hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. SFC Jones, do you have anything to add?
SFC JONES: No, it's just like SFC Manley said. If you have an immediate patient or you have an expectant patient, you don't treat that expectant patient regardless, as a minimum. You've got to take that patient in priority and when it comes, you'll take the other.
As I said earlier, I think in this war, it's been astounding at the number of ... the minimal amount of American casualties. Because we're receiving eight-to-one EPW-to-American. Most of the Americans we're seeing right now are accidents, either a helicopter crash or crash on the road or whatever. Very few guys that we're getting are coming from the battlefield. The EPWs are right at the opposite. Like SFC Manley says, the EPWs, a lot of them that we get ... remember, they're coming from the front line either from a CSH or a MASH, and they are treating the most critical injury at that time and then they're moving them on back. Because I know I've been in the emergency room down there when I've seen them come in, where they've gone ahead and treated the chest wound, but at the same time, they've got a gaping hole in their hip that maybe that CSH or MASH could not treat. So they'll pack it as best they could, they get them back here to us with a tag on it to know that we've got to work on this hip. They've done the front part up here, maybe their chest, put it all together here.
But I haven't seen any quality of care for an EPW down. It's always been very high. Like I said earlier, it's a person. It's a human being that you're trying to save, and I don't think that anybody with a good conscience about themselves would say because he's an Iraqi or he's an American, they're going to give priority over another one. We're going to treat the most injured first, always. And I can tell you that I have been on the wards and I know on SFC Manley's wards, he's had to expectant patients, Iraqis, back there for awhile.
One of them, just to give you an example, if he had been an American, because he had a spinal wound, we could have evac[uat]ed him because this man would have been a paraplegic all his life. Had he been an American, we would have evaced him on out. I'm sure that some where along the way, he'd have been cared for, but he would have been a paraplegic all his life. But the Iraqi is different. He does not have that medical care at home. He had no place to go. We did the very best we could for him, but he died yesterday. It was probably the most humane thing that ever happened to him, because he couldn't be treated in Iraq, but he was alive in this hospital for three days. So, you can't ... he's a human being and we gave him the best we could.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay.
SFC JONES: [EMOTIONALLY UNABLE TO CONTINUE]
SSG KIRKLAND: SFC Manley, have any EPWs tried to come in with, after they've been stripped, with any weapons on their person?
SFC MANLEY: No, we haven't had any incidents, per se, where an EPW has. We've had some of the Americans that have ... we have found some hand grenades rolled up in a sleeping roll.
Basically, the EPWs, the procedure that happens to them .... When they get off the copter, we have the MPs [military policemen] that are stripping them, going through their clothing, looking at their bodies; and of course, the doctor is working on them, too. There's just so much you can conceal on a naked body. When they come in that way, there's just not much you can hide.
With the Americans, like I said, we did have the instance where we had the hand grenades rolled up in a sleeping roll that were brought in with his equipment. We had another incident where a hand grenade was on an American and we found it between his legs in his pants, where the pants were cut away on one leg and they were taking a shot in X-ray and it showed up the hand grenade being in his pants pocket on the other leg that was not cut off, the pants leg. So, you know, these things are going to happen, you know. You can always plan that it's not going to happen, but it's going to happen, you know, and we stress in our training things preparing for the mass-cal, these are the things we want to happen. We want to make sure that no weapons get in the hospital, that no hand grenades get in the hospital, that the patients are stripped, we get them into our clothing as soon as possible. But as always, in your best-laid plans, something is going to go awry. Thank goodness we were able to catch these things. I don't think there was any harm meant by it or no intent to hurt anyone in this hospital. It's just they had them when they got hit and it came with them.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. Great. What's the security like on the wards?
SFC MANLEY: We have isolated the EPWs. We do not mix the EPWs with the American casualties. There is an MP assigned to each ward and there's very light security, really, with the amount of patients. I think one of the things you've got to look at is this war didn't go on long enough for it to get ugly and for hatred and ill will and malice to get between the sides, as what you had in Vietnam. This war was--it happened. It went on quickly and it ended quickly. There was no ill will or no malice or hatred borne by either side.
The only people that's mad in this thing is Saddam. I don't think that most American troops hold a grudge against the Iraqi people. And certainly, from what we've seen by the mannerisms and the actions of the prisoners that we've had on our wards injured, there's no malice or ill will towards us. In fact, they're thankful that we've got them. When people just walk out of foxholes or walk out of trenches giving up, openly, you know, that's--that tells you they don't want to fight. And when you can amass 175,000 or more enemy prisoners of war in two or three days, that tells you that army didn't want to be there. It didn't want to fight. Somebody was making it fight. That threat has now been liberated from them.
So, in essence, I feel we've done more than liberate the state of Kuwait. We have possibly liberated the state of Iraq, you know, if it's taking the full step and Saddam is removed from power. And if that happens, then perhaps the Americans will now be looked upon and the Allied Forces will now be looked on as the great savings of the world, of infidels. As I said earlier, I think that these people are going back and telling their story of how they were treated: it's got to have an impact in that country. And if it doesn't, if that doesn't have an impact, then I don't know what will, you know.
Mankind ... I don't think any expression of mankind can be any greater than what's been displayed, you know, here and on the battlefield and what we've done. And if all the treatment and the people are treated the same way ... even with the MPs. The MPs are not gruff and aren't shoving them around. They're not pushing them. They're going out and having smoke breaks with them, you know.
To me, then, after seeing the Vietnam War and seeing and reading the history of the Korean War and World War II, you know, this didn't happen when we were fighting the Germans. This didn't happen when we were fighting the Koreans. This didn't happen when we were fighting the Vietnamese, but it's happening now. And I guess this is what the world has evolved to, that we can go in and fight these people and even though we've conquered them and defeated them, we're not mad at them. This is strange. And this is ... it's got to say something in world affairs that, you know, a country can annihilate another country's ability to make war, and we're not mad at them. I don't have any malice or ill will, and I don't think anyone here does against the Iraqis. We have ill will and malice and hatred towards Saddam, for causing this situation, but we, as an American people, I don't think have any ill will toward the country of Iraq and the people of Iraq.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay. MSG Maddox, for those people who come in here and they have tattered clothing or their clothing has to be stripped away from them, is there plenty of clothing on hand to provide them with additional uniforms or clothing? Could you expand upon that, please?
MSG MADDOX: What we have done is our PAD or our S--what is policy?--the S-4 has been allocated an ample amount of clothing for the troops that, you know, the clothes have been cut away or whatever. Like if he comes in and he ... they have to cut away a pair of britches but the top is still good, we'll issue him a pair of trousers. If his boots are gone, you know, we have to issue boots or locate him a pair of boots or, you know, whatever.
Basically, this is the first time we've been allocated to reissue, you know, people uniforms when they leave here. Basically, all we've done in the past was, you know, provide pajamas or whatever and they'd get on the plane and go but now, they say they have to go out in military attire. So, we've been allocated, you know, I think it was 100 tops and 100 trousers for our troops to leave in. Once you use your resources up, it's on a day-to-day basis. You reorder and they replenish your demand for uniforms. So, yes, we do reissue uniforms for those that are leaving the hospital.
SSG KIRKLAND: What about for the EPWs? Do you provide them with some type of clothing?
MSG MADDOX: I think they just get the pajamas and the top, the EPWs.
SFC MANLEY: The other EPWs were getting our old MOPP suits, our BDOs [battle dress overgarments] that we're turning in and our CPOGs [chemical protective outer garments] that we're turning in. They're being used for the EPW prisoners. I don't think they're allowed, I understand, their original uniforms.
MSG MADDOX: No, they're not issuing the desert uniforms to them. It's either the pajamas or old BDOs that we've got.
SSG KIRKLAND: Okay, great. Does anybody have anything to add to this interview that I haven't covered?
MSG MADDOX: The Chaplain services, that has been an excess to us. The troops on both sides, you know, they can distinguish the cross and the chaplain, he's a man of God, you know. When he walks into the ward and stuff, you see people perk up. He'll walk in to the American troops and, you know ... the ones we got, they'll kid around with us, you know, on an every-day basis. We're on a first-name basis with them. They basically are the same way with our American boys or EPWs. They can walk up to an EPW and they sense that he's a man of God, you know, and their eyes will gleam or they'll smile. He'll throw up his hands. He can't understand what he's saying, but he knows that, you know, he's a man of God. They respect him for that. Our boys on our side that have been injured, you know, he walks in to talk to them, you know. He might bring a pack of gum or something to him and just sit there and talk to him, you know. If he wants a prayer, he'll pray with them. They've been inspiring to us because, you know, when you're down in the dumps, you've been working 12, 14, 16 hours a day, when you've seen your own people die or see Iraqis die ...
[END OF INTERVIEW]