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"I’m operating on the enemy, and risking my whole team and myself…" (Audio interview, 41:01)

   Martin L. Fackler
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War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Cold War
Branch: Navy; Army
Unit: Naval Support Hospital, Da Nang, Vietnam; Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan; Letterman Army Hospital, San Francisco, California
Service Location: Da Nang, Vietnam; Yokosuka, Japan; Memphis, Tennessee; also:
Rank: Colonel
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Life during wartime is often full of unexpected events, and not surprisingly, Colonel Martin Fackler’s career in military medicine during the Vietnam era took many twists and turns. Beginning in the Navy as an intern, he wrangled a coveted residency through an auspicious conversation with a high-ranking patient. Transferring to the Naval Support Hospital in Da Nang, Vietnam, in 1967, he cultivated skills in both trauma surgery as well as the German language. His exposure to Army medical systems during his time in Vietnam led to a transfer of branches, and service with the Army in Germany during the Cold War. Returning stateside, he developed a wound ballistic lab at the Army’s Medical Training Center, where he studied the impact of different types of bullets and ballistics on the human body.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview  (88 min.)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back Part 4
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Entry into the service; facing “doctor’s draft”; deciding on military medicine. (02:28) Treating high ranking officer aboard ship; being offered a surgical residency. (05:15) Transfer to hospital in Da Nang, Vietnam; enjoying his service there; exposure to a wider variety of surgeries; becoming current in the field. (04:08)
Reflections on the stress of being a trauma surgeon in Vietnam and during Tet Offensive; incident in which he operated on a Vietnamese POW during mortar attack. (02:01) Learning from international medical community about wound ballistics; starting a wound ballistics laboratory in San Francisco. (05:42) Advantages of practicing military medicine; ability to focus on necessary procedures without worrying about cost. (03:38)
  
 
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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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