Thurman P. Woodfork


Thurman P. Woodfork: The Rare BreedI never had the misfortune to require the services of a Dustoff or Medevac crew, but I personally knew and lived with medics, both in Vietnam and on isolated sites where they were the only medical assistance available. Sometimes, if the weather was bad enough, they were the only medical help available for a week or more.

Whatever they themselves may have thought about what they did, we, the people under their care, believed the evidence of our eyes, and trusted in them, and in their ability, implicitly.

They are special people, a rare breed, who always put the patient first, and their own safety and comfort last. A month or so ago, forty-odd years after the fact, I listened on the phone to an old combat medic weeping in frustration because he couldn’t save each and every one of his patients.

Somehow, he still thought he should have been able to keep them all alive, even when I reminded him that he was, like all of us, only a mere mortal, in spite of the fact that he sometimes performed superhuman feats.

None of them, not a single one that I ever knew, in the air or on the ground, ever let any of us down. If any Vietnam veterans deserve to be free of survivor’s guilt, Lord knows, the medics and the crews of those airborne ambulances certainly qualify for exemption.

A rare breed!

Author’s Note: For Bruce K. “Doc” Melson