Generally, the “walking wounded” were treated by medical corpsmen and remained with their units. They visited aid stations for further treatment if infection was a concern. All other wounds and illnesses were treated at military aid stations maintained near battalion headquarters, and hospitals maintained at brigade and division headquarters. Patients with more serious wounds and illnesses were evacuated to offshore medical facilities, or MEDEVAC to the United States. They might be treated in nearer hospitals such as the Philippines, Japan, or Hawaii, if their condition precluded transport back to the continental United States.
Patients treated in-country usually were returned to duty with their units if their absence was short. However, those that were medically evacuated were not expected to return to duty and replacements had to be assigned to take their place. The casualty reporting office was responsible for initiating the replacement of MEDEVACs as well as making certain that their personal records and gear were shipped to them at the medical facility where they were being treated.
Each index card in the major's deck of cards represented a MEDEVAC who had not been properly processed. They were waiting in medical facilities for their orders, their records, their pay, their mail, their personal gear. The deck of cards for MEDEVACs from the 9th Infantry Division was thicker than all the other U.S. commands in Vietnam combined!
On return to my headquarters I brought my team together and told them we had a new priority. They complained that they hadn't been getting the cooperation they needed to take care of the MEDEVACs. I didn't care. Having worked for Social Security as a Claims Examiner before entering the Army, I knew that a Congressman was as effective as a polecat at a picnic, and I told my men to tell unit commanders that each MEDEVAC's case had risen to “Congressional attention.”
We got results and our division Adjutant General received a visit from the USARV major who informed us that the 9th Infantry Division was now the paradigm of efficiency in casualty reporting.
So much for an officer's honesty, but a lie got the job done.