from front over-page of book flap)
are the reactions of an osteopathic physician trained in the healing
arts, when exposed to the killing, wounding and atrocities of war? In
this highly revealing book, Andrew Lovy, D.O., Battalion Surgeon with
the 101st Airborne Division, relates in the first person his day-by
experiences from October 1967 through July 1968 in the Vietnam War.
Appearing here in the form of a diary, the material is drawn
from the almost daily letters Dr. Lovy wrote to his wife during the
(excerpt from back book flap)
mine blew up under the jeep in front of us.
The interpreter was blown completely over the jeep and was
impaled between the windshield and the steering wheel. . . .A
sergeant and I went forward to the injured troopers.
One of the Americans lying by the side of the road, who
appeared to be seriously injured, said, "Doc, don't worry about
me. I'm O.K.
Take care of our interpreter on the jeep. I think he's a lot
worse than I am." This struck me as being heroic indeed. It's quite easy to act the hero when you're in a safe area
or in a movie or TV series, but under actual combat conditions to be
in severe pain and still think of other fellow takes extraordinary
so filthy even the mosquitoes are staying away from me for fear they
may catch some dread disease of human origin.
Some time in December I hope to take another cold shower to work
off the first six layers of dirt."
time a helicopter flies by, and makes its landing pattern over the
tent, all of our medical equipment gets dirt and dust blown over it and
becomes completely disorganized. They
don't seem to realize how important even an attempt at sterile
technique is out in the field. The
major informed the helicopter pilots and the next several passes they
made over the mess hall, so we had ground dirt in our ground beef and
mud pies for dessert."
are the annoyances, the red tape frustrations, the humor, fears and
grim horror that make up the routine of any man in combat.
Dr. Lovy does not hesitate to criticize the military when he
feels such criticism is due. Nor
is he unstinting in his praise for the men who face a deadly enemy. Readers here will get a new perspective on the war in
Vietnam by a keen observer who "tells it like it is."
here to read excerpts from the October
1967 diary entries. These entries were written while Doc and the
3/506th were crossing the Pacific aboard the USS Weigel on their way to
Loy's book will be available for download in the near future at http://www.currahee.org.
Over 30 years have transpired since
I left Vietnam and returned to my life as a civilian. I seldom looked
back, and considered that time of my life as a distant memory,
something I survived. Little did I know just how much of me I left
there. That became even clearer to me when I attended my first reunion
of the 3/506 in Kentucky in 1998. I met up with some troopers I
hadnt seen in 30 years, and there were lots of memories that came
back. Even more so when we met again in Reno. Jerry Berry went through
slide after slide of our involvement there, and it was as if time had
stood still, we were back there, reliving some of the moments,
clarifying where we stood, and what we did, and when. There were lots
of tears, and lots of joy at seeing each other again, and where we had
gone with our lives.
I found a copy of the book, and as
I went over it, memories began to come back again, but there was
something missing. The book seemed almost sterile. Certainly it
contained what I had written, a journal of events, mostly aimed at
letting my family in on what was happening, minus the gore and trauma.
Mostly it was to let them know that I hadnt turned into some sort of
killing machine with no regard for human life, as some of the
newspapers had painted us.
I was fairly convinced that I was
to die there, and wanted them to know that I hadnt really changed,
that I was still doing what I thought was right, only in Vietnam,
taking care of the sick and wounded, instead of in Milwaukee Wisconsin
where I had left a private practice. It was never meant to be great
journalism, but a chronicle of events. I was convinced by others to
have them published, that the public was interested in that sort of
thing, etc. and so I did. It didnt sell well, this was not what the
public wanted to hear. I had some publishers look at it, and one said
it would be publishable, but with a few changes. Add more incidents
where the American troops participated in atrocities, and add some
graphic and vivid sex, like rape, etc. that wasnt what I saw or did,
so I wasnt interested. After that, it faded into oblivion as I went
about my job. An occasional person would want to know what I had done,
seen, and I would give them a copy. That was that.
My friends and members of the unit
felt that, since the book had long since been out of print, and they
wanted copies, that I should get it republished. Like so many other
things, value is sometimes many years later . I thought about it and
was about to look at that possibility. Then an interesting thing
happened, I recently moved and found letters in a file cabinet that had
been shut for years. They contained the original letters that I had
sent home to my wife Madeline. Some were stained from various insults
to them over the years but
most were readable. As I went through them I recalled how we had
modified the book. I had eliminated many of
the names, since the publisher was concerned about lawsuits
later on, and I had totally eliminated all personal and private
references. That was the missing part.
Indeed, I was human after all, my
personal life and my professional life blended together in the letters
and my concern for what was going on Stateside as well as with my
family became manifest. Along with comments about what was going on in
the unit, I asked for journals, medical books, pictures, and even
Playboy magazines. As I
reread them it seems like there were so many petty things going on that
I complained about. Promotions, awards, living conditions, etc. they
seem petty now, but at the time, they were important issues, and
sometimes distracted me from what was going on; killing, dying, danger.
In retrospect, that part of my life
was an important relief and release from the harsh realities of the
battle. It allowed me to focus my energies on the situation at hand,
and then move into another world when I wrote home, trying to blend the
two worlds. Issues of promotions, the military, my pay, the bureaucracy
gave me a place to vent my emotions, since it was not possible during
the day, when my total focus was on the job at hand. Stateside seemed
more a fantasy, and there were times I doubted if that ever really did
This was my life, and this was what
it would be for eternity, something out of a twilight episode, but
really happening. Even 30 years later, there are times I toss and turn,
and fully expect to wake up and find that everything else was a dream,
and I am back in Vietnam. Rather than rewrite the book in the light of
30 years of new knowledge, new perspectives, and a good deal of Monday
morning quarterbacking (everyone has a perfect retro-spectroscope) I
thought I would add back the missing parts from the letters. This would
then be a much more realistic accounting of my experience. So, that is
what follows. There is also a group of letters at the end that
werent dated. Although I could probably place them approximately in
the sequence that they were written, for now, they stand alone, at the
end of the book.
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