Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Jungle II.

This is coolbert:

As you might expect, the U.S. military in Vietnam was vastly better prepared and equipped to handle the rigors of jungle disease than it was in World War Two [WW2].

Was aware of the circumstances and DID provide better prophylactic care to the troops in the field. Medications, food, water, were all better, period.

Experience from WW2 had taught the doctors to be more alert for signs of problems from the start. Doctors knew how diagnose and treat jungle illnesses.

Troops were aware of the problems and knew what to expect. Trained accordingly to minimize the risk from jungle disease.

This of course did NOT mitigate totally all that could go wrong and did go wrong. IT IS JUST IMPOSSIBLE TO PREVENT ALL PROBLEMS FROM CROPPING UP!! IT CANNOT BE HELPED.

Consider what one Vietnam veteran had to say about the jungle:

"Our Jungle's were thick and green where you can only see the day light as it leaked through the top of the Jungle Canopy ceilings. The floor reaped of 'DEATH. Not only did we have to deal with the Enemy, but with the hundreds of different varieties of poisonous Snakes, Spiders, Scorpions, Red Fire Ants, Black Army Ants, the Tree leeches, Water and Paddy Leeches, Parasites, Malaria, Dysentery, Disease, , Heat Stroke . . . Our Enemy was also the Agent Orange, Agent Blue, Agent Pink and Agent White that we know about that they sprayed directly on top of us in the early years in Vietnam in our Area of Operation . The DDT in the little clear plastic bottles we rubbed all over us like baby oil to ward off the Mosquitoes and insects all the time . . . When we went in to the Bush and hit or banged into the Trees or the thick Foliage of the Jungle's, Nests with thousands of Red Fire Ants would fall all over us and bite pieces of flesh from us as they fell from their nests on to our bare skin. (We did what we called 'THE ANT DANCE') We would take these spray cans as we tore off our clothes and spray all over our selves with it to Kill the painful Fire Ants."

Insects, leeches, parasites, disease, defoliants, insecticide.

[believe it or not, that DDT used as an insecticide had a strong odor to it. VC and NVA could detect the presence of U.S. troops from a distance just by the smell!]

Measures employed by U.S. forces in Vietnam did help. As might be expected, not 100 % as some would like. But better than what was had in WW2.

Let the German ex-SS officer serving with the French Foreign Legion in the First Indo-China War have the final word on prophylactic measures in the jungle:

"my men understood the importance of keeping themselves clean, healthy, and fit for action . . . We boiled or purified our drinking water, even in the most adverse circumstances . . . In my battalion everyone consumed his daily ration of vitamin pills . . . We had purchased large quantities of camphor and menthol cream from which excellent mosquito and leech repellent creams could be prepared. . . . Every one of us carried a small mosquito net, good enough to cover one's face and hands while resting . . . after dark. In order to keep fit, sufficient rest was of paramount importance. . . . Men with swollen eyes and legs covered with festering sores, men devoid of sleep and tormented by belly cramps could not be expected to fight and defeat the Viet Minh."

Clean - - healthy - - fit - - drinking water - - vitamin - - creams - - mosquito net - - rest.

Little things can and do make a big difference.



Anonymous JSBolton said...

Now that there has been progress against tropical health hazards, it would seem that it is the worthless places which still have virulent malaria, bad water diseases, etc.
Liberia got an intervention in spite of that, though.

2:48 AM


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