[On May 21st, 1881, Clara Barton founded the American National Red Cross. So this week I’ll AmericanStudy a handful of histories and contexts related to nursing and medical aid, starting with my colleague and friend Irene’s Guest Post on Barton herself! Add your responses and thoughts for a healthy crowd-sourced weekend post, please!]
Thanks to this website’s exhaustive list, here are three of the fifteen medics who received the Medal of Honor for their service during the Vietnam War.
1) Donald W. Evans Jr.: One of the eight medics who received the Medal of Honor posthumously, the 24 year-old Californian Evans did so for going far above and beyond to provide medical attention to the soldiers of a different platoon from his own (which was not yet part of the battle). Wounded multiple times, he continued to move soldiers out of harm’s way and to safer positions; while treating one more such soldier he was killed by enemy fire. Just as I wrote about WW1 nurses in yesterday’s post, there’s no way to see what Evans did as anything other than military service, and indeed the most ideal version of that service, one entirely dedicated to his comrades (even those outside of the platoon for which he was responsible).
2) Alfred Rascon: 21 year-old Mexican American immigrant Rascon’s story of courage and resilience under fire (and while being wounded so many times that his survival in and of itself is a miracle) is so incredible that I can’t possibly sum it up in a few sentences, and would ask you to check out the whole thing at that hyperlink. At an age when most of us are barely formed as adults, Rascon performed one of the most impressive acts of selfless heroism about which I’ve ever read, truly embodying the spirit and ethos of combat medics.
3) Clarence Eugene Sasser: An African American from Houston, Sasser was only 20 years old when he performed similar acts of extreme heroism to Rascon’s, also while taking multiple wounds that left him “in agonizing pain and faint from loss of blood.” Per that hyperlinked account, after reaching that point he attended the wounds of a large group of soldiers for another five hours until they could be evacuated to safety. More than anything, I believe these medics’ stories, like those of all the nurses and aid workers I’ve highlighted this week, reflect the strength of the human spirit and how it can often be witnessed most fully in service to others.
Crowd-sourced post this weekend,
PS. So one more time: what do you think? Other nursing or medical histories you’d highlight?
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