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June 01, 1990 - Image 41

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-06-01

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

LOOKING BACK

re-born
on
A hit movie revives
strong memories for
four local physicians.
the
4th
n

SUSAN WEINGARDEN

Special to The Jewish News

ominated for
eight Academy
Awards, the
powerful movie
Born on the Fourth of July of-
fers a vivid depiction of the
horrors of war. For several
Detroit area Jewish physi-
cians who were stationed in
Vietnam during the war, the
movie also revived memories
of their own experiences.
"Every war movie brings
back memories," says Dr. Paul
Gold, now a family practice
physician. He served in the
U.S. Army medical corps in
Vietnam in 1967. "This movie
was very authentic. It put me
right back in Vietnam. It
brought back the fear and
anxieties,.as well as the futili-
ty of war. It reminded me of
how pathetic war is."

Dr. Gold's Purple Heart citation.

' Stationed with the 11th Ar-
mored Cavalry Regiment in
Long Giao, Dr. Gold worked in
the middle of the jungle. "We
provided emergency medical
care in the field and tried to
stabilize the immediate in-
jury: we clamped bleeding ar-
teries, started IVs, gave mor-
phine and called the heli-
copters to get the wounded,
who went from the jungle to a
major military hospital," says
Dr. Gold. "The back of my
APC (armored personal car-
rier) became a MASH unit on
wheels."
Dr. Gold recalls the danger
of traveling through the
jungle from mission to mis-
sion. "There were land mines
all over," he says. "At any time
you could be shot or blown up."
His commanding officer,

Colonel George Patton II,
wanted him close behind the
line of fire. "In our unit, the
doctor went with the troops on
search and destroy missions?'
Dr. Gold says. "Colonel Patton
believed the soldiers would
have more confidence and
fight better if they knew
medical help was nearby."
For attending to wounded
while under fire, Dr. Gold
earned a Silver Star. "Three of
my medics were injured by
rocket fire," he explains. "A
helicopter dropped me in the
center of a fire fight and I ran
through the mud to treat
them. When a truck came to
pick me up, it hit a mine. I
couldn't believe I had just run
through a mine field. It was
quite terrifying."
Dr. Gold lost weight from
anti-malaria medicine. He
longed for a hot shower and
the luxury of sitting on a
toilet.
He especially remembers a
foggy night in April 1967. "I
was sleeping on my APC and
there was a tremendous noise
of rockets coming at the base.
Guns were going off and there
was screaming and yelling. A
rocket hit about 20 feet from
me and I was blown into the
mud. I had a burning sensa-
tion in my abdomen and
realized I was wounded.
"A few of the men were kill-
ed. My wounds were not
serious so I was able to treat
the injured before I was taken
to Long Bihn hospital for
treatment. I was back in a few
days?'
Though Dr. Gold has no
knowledge of the Veterans Ad-
ministration hospitals, so
pathetically portrayed in Born
on the Fourth of July, he

Dr. Paul Gold holds his decorations.

says, "The medical care in
Vietnam was some of the best
in the world. Sometimes the
wounded were treated faster
than they would be if they
were injured on Orchard Lake
Road."
Dr. Gold learned to treat
war injuries while at Ft. Sam
Houston, Texas. "They shot
pigs and goats to show the
doctors how to care for and do
surgery on tissue destroyed by
weapons," he says. "The public
doesn't realize how powerful
weapons are. Seeing the
damage is a sickening sight."
He believes the American
people would have been more
sympathetic towards Vietnam
veterans if Born On The
Fourth of July had been made
years earlier.
Reflecting his feelings about
serving in the war, Dr. Gold
says he was not an anti-war
activist. "I just did my job. My
experience made me ap-
preciate life more. I felt good
that I contributed, but when
my plane left Vietnam I cried
with relief."
Hand surgeon Jerry Taylor
was a lieutenant commander
in the navy. Stationed in
Danang in 1967, he was the
medical officer for the SeeBee
construction battalion of navy
engineers. "The SeeBees built
roads, bridges, portable air

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

41

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