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History of Neurology: Neurology was there
January 2002

Vietnam

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Neurology, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md (Dr Gunderson); and the University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (Dr Daroff).

 

CHRISTOPHER G.GOETZMD

Arch Neurol. 2002;59(1):141-146. doi:10.1001/archneur.59.1.141

On December 1, 1965, the troop ship USNS General Leroy Eltinge left Long Beach, Calif, destined for Vietnam. When it docked in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) 23 days later, the men of the US Army's 935th medical detachment (neuropsychiatry [KO] team) disembarked. Among them was one of us (R.B.D.), the first US Army neurologist to set foot in a combat zone since 19451 and the first of 15 US Army and 4 US Air Force neurologists to serve in Vietnam during the next 6 years (Figure 1). Two received Bronze Stars for meritorious service. Three collected data for scientific studies later published in medical journals. All were among the US Army, Navy, and Air Force medical officers who cared for the medical and surgical needs of the 2.5 million US military personnel who served in Vietnam from 1965 to 19722 under conditions ranging from primitive to dangerous. This little known episode in the history of US neurology deserves recognition as an example of how the specialty can be successfully practiced under austere conditions.

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