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Attack on FSB Ike:  A Medic's Viewpoint

by Vance "Doc" Gifford

My name is Vance "Doc" Gifford.  I was a 91C20 (Clinical Specialist Medic) assigned to HHC 2/5 Cav.  I had been in-country about 2 weeks when I was sent to Ike from our base camp in Tay Ninh.  I had just finished a year of medical training at Valley Forge General Hospital in Pennsylvania, after the 10 week basic medic AIT at Ft. Sam Houston, and I thought I was ready for anything.  On November 2nd, I was sent out to Ike as the replacement for Doc Ramsey (don't remember his first name), so by the night of the 3rd I was still very wet behind the ears (FNG) and found out very fast that I was not ready for anything.  I had just laid down on a litter to grab a little sleep in the aid station when all hell broke loose.  I remember John Bauer (another medic) suggesting I stay in the aid station and wait for the wounded to be brought in.  No one was being brought in so I went out and had no idea what I was seeing.  There was so much chaos, people running everywhere, shouting that I can still hear sometimes at night, artillery firing, M-16s, sappers, the night being lit up by God only knows what.  I found a man down next to the TOC and although I could see no visible wounds, he was not responding, so I picked him up and took him to the aid station.  By then there were several wounded and I started trying to help.  So many wounds.  Trying to treat them the best we could to stop the bleeding and help the pain until we could get choppers in.  There was one man burned with willie pete.  I sometimes wonder if he made it.  I don't know the names of the guys I was working on that night.  I was just seeing the wounds and trying my best to help them.  If I had been on Ike longer and actually known some of the men, I would have remembered more.  Most of the night was a blur.  We eventually medivac'd all the wounded out, including one of our medics, Lonny Branch.  Around day break, me and another medic (maybe John Bauer) went outside and there were a few NVA laid out between the aid station and the mess hall.  They were still alive, but I don't know how.  The wounds were so bad, they should have been dead.  One skull was so crushed that when I tried to move his head to check wounds, (we treated the enemy, too) the bones were so shattered his skull seemed like mush.  He died soon after, but what I remember most about them was they seemed to feel no pain. They must have been on some pretty strong drugs.  After all the wounded were evacuated we stood beside the mess hall waiting for some coffee and maybe a bite to eat (it had been a long night), we decided to sit down while waiting and have a smoke.  We had not been sitting more than a few seconds when a round hit and shrapnel was in the sand bags next to where our heads had been.  Luckily, a very small piece hit my leg, but no one else had a scratch.  Day light came and all was well or so they say.

These are my recollections, and some could be wrong.  It has been almost 37 years.  If I am wrong and someone remembers differently, please contact me.  (Webmaster note:  I will forward his email address to any legitimate inquirer.)  I would really like to hear from anyone that might remember me and that night.  Thanks.

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Updated September 03, 2006