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March 1960

Cold Injury

AMA Arch Surg. 1960;80(3):396-405. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1960.01290200040007

The Surgeon General's foreword to this volume begins with the statement that it is a lamentable but nonetheless incontrovertible fact that most of the serious losses which occurred from cold injury among United States troops in World War II should not have occurred. It would be less than candid, he continued, not to acknowledge this painful truth.

General Hays is to be congratulated on his frankness. It is fully justified. All concerned must accept the responsibility for what happened. On the other hand, the prevention of cold injury is primarily a command, not a medical, responsibility. Early in the war, no one realized the significance of this type of injury, though medical officers grasped the situation long before command did. The Surgical Consultants Division, Office of the Surgeon General, first appreciated the danger—in the late summer of 1943, after the experience in the Aleutians—and it was for a long time

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