Retired Army Officer Kept Track of American Vietnam War Casualties

December 13, 2020 JAN Season 1 Episode 10
Retired Army Officer Kept Track of American Vietnam War Casualties
Show Notes

Anthony Fasolo was a career officer in the US Army.  In Vietnam he was placed in charge of reporting American GI's wounded, other injuries and deaths to families.  He worked with the Army to assist Members of Congress, the President and relatives of US soldiers.

                                  My Vietnam Story By Anthony Fasolo

(Edited December 13, 2020)

The SOLDIERS of United States Army Vietnam (USARV) Casualty and Med-Evac Branch worked at Long Binh. 

FRIARS, LOYALS, CROWNS, PUNCHES, AND ETHERS.  These are the young soldiers who typed up all the casualty reports, proofread the letters of sympathy sent by commanders to next of kin (NOK)and followed up on all army dead and wounded in Vietnam.  We worked 12 hour shifts seven days a week.  We were allowed a short leave period and I went to Bangkok Thailand to be with my wife who had flown there from Germany where she had been staying with our three children.  Other soldiers went to Hawaii, Hong Kong or Australia, all transported at government expense.

  My tour in Vietnam started just before Christmas 1969.  Wearing my jungle fatigues, I arrived at Cam Ranh Bay shortly after midnight aboard a World Airways commercial jet.  Even though the Viet Cong had attacked this area the night before, our parked plane was illuminated by huge spotlights.  Fully expecting to run to the waiting busses, I was surprised that we walked.  I did take some comfort from the fact that the military busses which took us to the In-processing Center had heavy metal screened windows. This reassured me that we were in a war zone.   At the In-processing Center, I learned that my orders had been changed and I was being assigned to the Headquarters of the United States Army in Vietnam (USARV).  I was to continue in-processing and in the morning flown to Long Binh. We were then shown a film featuring General Westmoreland, the Commander of the U.S. Forces in Vietnam.  He tried to explain to us why we were in this strange land.  However, as it was 0200 and since we’d been traveling for about 15 hours, I’m not sure if any of the message got through.  

However, our long, surreal day/night was still not over. We were taken to a large room containing a long trough like horses drink out of. There were many spigots. A young US soldier instructed us to brush our teeth for five minutes with fluoride toothpaste. He explained that the Army wanted us to keep our teeth decay free, as there were few dentists in Vietnam.  Those wearing the Army’s dress green uniform were told to remove the jacket lest they get stained.  I laughed to myself as I imagined the Roman Legions getting the same instructions and told to brush their teeth and being asked to remove their breastplates as they entered a Country.  “Centurion Flavius take off that breast plate since you might stain it with this fluoride treatment!”.  

We were finally allowed to go to sleep after receiving more equipment.  In the morning, the serious part started.  I was flown to Long Binh, the Headquarters of the United States Army Vietnam (USARV) to begin my tour at the USARV Casualty and Medevac Branch.  On my second day, I saw Bob Hope and his Christmas Show.   As I viewed the very appreciative service men and women, I had the uneasy feeling that many of them would be casualties.