“It was my first Mas-Cal, short for mass casualty situation, and although the instructors back in…”

“It was my first Mas-Cal, short for mass casualty situation, and although the instructors back in basic had warned us what to expect, no amount of warning could have ever prepared me for the sheer numbers of mutilated young bodies that the helicopters kept bringing to the 71st. ‘Now you’ll see how we really earn our money,’ Slim said. The emergency room floor was practically covered with blood. Dozens of gurneys were tightly packed into the ER, with barely enough space for medical people to move between them. And the helicopters were still bringing more. Dead bodies in Glad bags were lined up outside the ER doors, to be moved to the morgue as there was time. The moans and screams of so many wounded were mixed up with the shouted orders of doctors and nurses. One soldier vomited on my fatigues while I was inserting an IV needle into his arm. Another grabbed my hand and refused to let go. A blond infantry lieutenant begged me to give him enough morphine to kill him so he wouldn’t feel any more pain. A black sergeant went into a seizure and died while Carl and I were examining his small frag wound. ‘Duty, honor, country,’ Carl said sarcastically. ‘I’d love to have Richard Nixon here for one week.’”

Lynda Van Devanter, Home Before Morning: The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam (via vietnamwarera)