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(excerpt from front over-page of book flap)

 What are the reactions of an osteopathic physician trained in the healing arts, when exposed to the killing, wounding and atrocities of war? In this highly revealing book, Andrew Lovy, D.O., Battalion Surgeon with the 101st Airborne Division, relates in the first person his day-by experiences from October 1967 through July 1968 in the Vietnam War.  Appearing here in the form of a diary, the material is drawn from the almost daily letters Dr. Lovy wrote to his wife during the period. 

 

(excerpt from back book flap)

Capsule excerpts:

"A mine blew up under the jeep in front of us.  The interpreter was blown completely over the jeep and was impaled between the windshield and the steering wheel. . . .A sergeant and I went forward to the injured troopers.  One of the Americans lying by the side of the road, who appeared to be seriously injured, said, "Doc, don't worry about me.  I'm O.K.  Take care of our interpreter on the jeep. I think he's a lot worse than I am."  This struck me as being heroic indeed.  It's quite easy to act the hero when you're in a safe area or in a movie or TV series, but under actual combat conditions to be in severe pain and still think of other fellow takes extraordinary courage."

"I'm so filthy even the mosquitoes are staying away from me for fear they may catch some dread disease of human origin.  Some time in December I hope to take another cold shower to work off the first six layers of dirt."

"Each time a helicopter flies by, and makes its landing pattern over the tent, all of our medical equipment gets dirt and dust blown over it and becomes completely disorganized.  They don't seem to realize how important even an attempt at sterile technique is out in the field.  The major informed the helicopter pilots and the next several passes they made over the mess hall, so we had ground dirt in our ground beef and mud pies for dessert."

Here are the annoyances, the red tape frustrations, the humor, fears and grim horror that make up the routine of any man in combat.  Dr. Lovy does not hesitate to criticize the military when he feels such criticism is due.  Nor is he unstinting in his praise for the men who face a deadly enemy.  Readers here will get a new perspective on the war in Vietnam by a keen observer who "tells it like it is."  

 

Click here to read excerpts from the October 1967 diary entries. These entries were written while Doc and the 3/506th were crossing the Pacific aboard the USS Weigel on their way to Vietnam.

Doc Loy's book will be available for download in the near future at http://www.currahee.org.

 

 

 

New Introduction
March, 2000

Over 30 years have transpired since I left Vietnam and returned to my life as a civilian. I seldom looked back, and considered that time of my life as a distant memory, something I survived. Little did I know just how much of me I left there. That became even clearer to me when I attended my first reunion of the 3/506 in Kentucky in 1998. I met up with some troopers I hadn’t seen in 30 years, and there were lots of memories that came back. Even more so when we met again in Reno. Jerry Berry went through slide after slide of our involvement there, and it was as if time had stood still, we were back there, reliving some of the moments, clarifying where we stood, and what we did, and when. There were lots of tears, and lots of joy at seeing each other again, and where we had gone with our lives.

I found a copy of the book, and as I went over it, memories began to come back again, but there was something missing. The book seemed almost sterile. Certainly it contained what I had written, a journal of events, mostly aimed at letting my family in on what was happening, minus the gore and trauma. Mostly it was to let them know that I hadn’t turned into some sort of killing machine with no regard for human life, as some of the newspapers had painted us.

I was fairly convinced that I was to die there, and wanted them to know that I hadn’t really changed, that I was still doing what I thought was right, only in Vietnam, taking care of the sick and wounded, instead of in Milwaukee Wisconsin where I had left a private practice. It was never meant to be great journalism, but a chronicle of events. I was convinced by others to have them published, that the public was interested in that sort of thing, etc. and so I did. It didn’t sell well, this was not what the public wanted to hear. I had some publishers look at it, and one said it would be publishable, but with a few changes. Add more incidents where the American troops participated in atrocities, and add some graphic and vivid sex, like rape, etc. that wasn’t what I saw or did, so I wasn’t interested. After that, it faded into oblivion as I went about my job. An occasional person would want to know what I had done, seen, and I would give them a copy. That was that.

My friends and members of the unit felt that, since the book had long since been out of print, and they wanted copies, that I should get it republished. Like so many other things, value is sometimes many years later . I thought about it and was about to look at that possibility. Then an interesting thing happened, I recently moved and found letters in a file cabinet that had been shut for years. They contained the original letters that I had sent home to my wife Madeline. Some were stained from various insults to them over  the years but most were readable. As I went through them I recalled how we had modified the book. I had eliminated many of  the names, since the publisher was concerned about lawsuits later on, and I had totally eliminated all personal and private references. That was the missing part.

Indeed, I was human after all, my personal life and my professional life blended together in the letters and my concern for what was going on Stateside as well as with my family became manifest. Along with comments about what was going on in the unit, I asked for journals, medical books, pictures, and even Playboy magazines.  As I reread them it seems like there were so many petty things going on that I complained about. Promotions, awards, living conditions, etc. they seem petty now, but at the time, they were important issues, and sometimes distracted me from what was going on; killing, dying, danger.

In retrospect, that part of my life was an important relief and release from the harsh realities of the battle. It allowed me to focus my energies on the situation at hand, and then move into another world when I wrote home, trying to blend the two worlds. Issues of promotions, the military, my pay, the bureaucracy gave me a place to vent my emotions, since it was not possible during the day, when my total focus was on the job at hand. Stateside seemed more a fantasy, and there were times I doubted if that ever really did exist.

This was my life, and this was what it would be for eternity, something out of a twilight episode, but really happening. Even 30 years later, there are times I toss and turn, and fully expect to wake up and find that everything else was a dream, and I am back in Vietnam. Rather than rewrite the book in the light of 30 years of new knowledge, new perspectives, and a good deal of Monday morning quarterbacking (everyone has a perfect retro-spectroscope) I thought I would add back the missing parts from the letters. This would then be a much more realistic accounting of my experience. So, that is what follows. There is also a group of letters at the end that weren’t dated. Although I could probably place them approximately in the sequence that they were written, for now, they stand alone, at the end of the book.  
A. Lovy

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