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   Vinh Long City 

  • The city of Vinh Long, a town of about 30,000 to 40,000 people, was the province headquarters, about five miles away from a U.S. Army airstrip. Everywhere Sheldon drove, the streets were filled with bicycles, street markets and images of the war. The center of the town featured a tall obelisk and closer to the hospital, there were several buildings partly destroyed sometime during the conflict.

  • The Mekong River was nearby, which was used as a bathroom, bathtub, and washing machine and of course, as a means of transportation by the Vietnamese. 

  • It was determined that the flow of rice through this area was vital. During the time Sheldon was in Vietnam, the area of the Mekong Delta produced 4,202,400 tons of rice. Control of the province was vital to the economy.

   The Hospital in Vinh Long

  • "I walked into the hospital this morning and found 41 new war casualties. Where in the hell do you start? I did 5 major cases, Fred Seaman did 2 and we still have many left." (letter, August 26, 1968)

  • Each morning the three doctors would triage and decide which civilians could be helped. Patients were separated into groups; those who could survive without immediate treatment, those who could survive if their wounds were treated immediately, and sadly, those who were so severely injured they would most likely die despite treatment. (page 38)

  • "You will never believe what I am doing now. The colonel has decided that there are too many GIs in the area with Gonorrhea. So, he has selected yours truly to run a special clinic for all the Vietnamese prostitutes to try to eliminate the disease as much as possible. So one day I can tell our children that their daddy went to war in Vietnam to fight the G.C., while everyone else was fighting the V.C." (letter April 4, 1968)

   Daily Surgery

  • "I am staying quite busy doing laparotomies, amputations, tendons and the works." (letter, April 6, 1968)

  • "Today I became an orthopedic surgeon. For the first time in my life, I opened up a knee joint and got a bullet out of it. Messy as hell, but I got the job done." (letter, April 10, 1968)

  • "The civilian casualties are still pouring in so fast that it is absolutely unreal. The amount of surgery is just absolutely overwhelming. We are exhausted, but hopefully the VC will calm down a little." (letter, May 16, 1968)

  • "Every day here is about the same. I see an endless amount of blood, guts, gore and death. I have never seen so much death in my life. I see more people die in 2 weeks than I saw during my entire medical school and internship period. The absolute butchery of human beings at times becomes overwhelming." (letter, July 2, 1968)

  • "I am doing 4-5 cases each day and I would do more but time just doesn't allow it." (letter, August 25, 1968) "



  • MILPHAP (Military Provincial Health Assistance Program) was created by the Agency for International Development (AID) and the U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (USMACV) to improve the health of Vietnamese civilians, beginning with a 1965 Secretary of Defense directive.

  • The MILPHAP team consisted of three doctors, one medical administrative officer and 12 enlisted technicians. 

  • The purpose of the team was to develop an independent, self-sustaining health service program in South Vietnam, developing the surgical skills of Vietnamese doctors and to train staff workers.

   A Special Little Boy - Loc

  • "Today I had a very depressing day as I had the unpleasant job of doing 4 amputations. On one little 7 year old boy, I had to do 2 above the knee amputations. This gave me a very empty feeling and I almost cried. I know they had to be done, but this little boy never did anything to anybody. What could a 7-year old boy do?"(letter, July 1, 1968)

  • "I took my tape recorder to the hospital today and recorded a little conversation with my little friend Loc. At 7 years of age, this little fellow is learning to speak English." (letter, September 13, 1968)

  • "We were able to obtain artificial legs for Loc, and with the help of crutches, he was able to walk. His mother brought him to the hospital to see me from time to time." (interview, August 2015)


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