A Career in Military Medicine
Tien N. Khuu - Chat V. Dang
         In September 2007, I was able to get in touch with Dr Khưu Ngọc Tiên who was at Duy Tân Military General Hospital in Danang, Central Vietnam, and is currently a neonatologist in Bakersfield, California. In May 2009, he provided additional information about his adventurous career as a military physician in two neatly penned letters.

         After graduation, Dr Tiên was appointed Director of the dispensary at the Academy of Political Warfare in Dalat. In 1972, following his specialty training in Saigon, he was sent to the ENT department at Duy Tân Military Hospital. At the time, possibly due to his spontaneity, he did not get along with his superior, Captain Doctor HN Toàn. The hard feelings became more apparent after Dr Đinh Văn Tùng, Director of the civilian Danang Medical Center (Trung Tâm Y Tế Toàn Khoa Đà Nẵng) requested the Medical Corps to allow Dr Tiên to help care for ENT cases one day a week. Dr Tiên had met Dr Tùng in 1968 when he volunteered at the Danang Medical Center to treat victims of the communist general offensive against the Republic of Vietnam commonly known as the Tet Offensive. While there, he had the opportunity to hone his operative skills with American military surgeons.

         Hearing of the strained relations between the two ENT doctors, Dr Lương requested Dr Tiên to be reassigned to his General Surgery department. Initially, Dr Tiên was in charge of Surgery Pavillion 8 (which I took over in 1974 from Dr Triết), treating soft tissue injuries. Then, inexplicably, Dr Lương requested him to be in charge of Surgery Pavillion 1 which was reserved for wounded officers of MR1 (Military Region). Pavillion 1 was considered the most important service at Duy Tan and should have been assigned to a more experienced senior surgeon. As the Surgery Pavillion 1 head physician, Dr Tiên also chaired the Council for Duty Exemption (Hội Đồng Miễn Dịch) deciding over discharges from the Armed Forces or long term medical leaves for injured combatants of all ranks. Dr Tiên had asked himself whether he was chosen by Dr Lương for his integrity. Despite many shortcomings, in particular a quick temper and a rigid character, Dr Lương was always pleasant and welcoming to Dr Tiên, never refusing any of his reasonable requests.

        Please read the rest in Forum 7: FACES OF THE WAR.