Three days before Christmas we made a night medevac near the village of Muc Hoa. Some civilians had been wounded in a firefight. Among them was a pregnant woman. She looked to be eight or nine months along and she had three gunshot wounds to her pelvic region.
When we picked her up, the woman was conscious, alert, and obviously frightened. More wounded people were being loaded on the helicopter, but the medic, a young California boy named Mike Toomey, went right to work on the woman. He had probably never seen a wounded, pregnant woman before, but he immediately assessed the situation and began treatment. I watched over my shoulder as he stopped the bleeding by wrapping an elastic bandage around her legs and pelvis in a figure eight. He was obviously talking to her and reassuring her. He told us over the intercom that he thought the bullets had missed the baby.
We took her to the Third Surg hospital, where we felt she would get better care than at a Vietnamese hospital. Two nurses and a doctor were waiting for us at the hospital helipad when we arrived. They rushed her right into surgery, while he medics unloaded the rest of the wounded.
The next morning we went to the check on her and learned that the baby had been delivered by C section and that both mother and child were going to make it.
It’s hard to say why she was so special to us. There were hundreds of women and children affected by the war. There was no shortage of babies being born in that war-torn land. But these were human lives and to the American doctors, nurses, and Dustoff crews, those lives had value. That was our reason for being, during this time when values were hard to sort out and define.