A Korean War saga with implications for modern medical care.
Kirkland, a fighter pilot during World War II, never thought he would serve in the Korean War as a helicopter pilot. But serve he did, and he and his fellow pilots risked their lives to rescue downed aircrews from behind enemy lines. In addition, they worked closely with doctors and nurses who staffed Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals (MASH, an acronym well known to classic Nick-at-Nite fans) throughout Korea. Pleased that the medical personnel were receiving long-deserved recognition, Kirkland could not figure out why the helicopter crews didn't receive the same. Having published some books and magazine articles after leaving the military, Kirkland decided to personally document the helicopter aspect of the Korean War. He tracked down crewmembers, spoke with military historians at Bolling Air Force Base, dug out his diaries, located his own sketches and acquired photographs from a wide variety of sources (some of which are reproduced effectively throughout the text). The immediate tone of the book contains loads of remembered dialogue among buddies, as well as battlefield details. Many of the pages will appeal primarily to war buffs, but the book's epilogue should appeal to a broader readership. Kirkland explains how the experimental use of helicopters in Korea led to more widespread use during the Vietnam War. In civilian life, hospital administrators began to envision how helicopters that evacuated the wounded from battlefields could also quickly transport accident victims and others in need of medical attention from a remote area to a hospital–-which led to the proliferation of air-evac rescue units. In fact, a company called Air Evac Lifeteam–-which provides ambulance service in 11 states–-helped pay for this book’s publication.
An engaging, inspiring account of those willing to place themselves in danger in order to save lives.