Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From The Editor: "Discipline Is In Order": Sexually Transmitted Diseases and MACV, 1965.

On 17 August 1965, Clark wrote in his diary:  "Sergeant Heizman, who is newly assigned to the Sealift Center, has been reported from the hospital as having been treated for VD, so tomorrow he will probably be PFC Drake’s replacement as discipline is in order." 

This is a fascinating statement if we look back at a diary entry on 14 June 1965 in which Clark described the different branches that comprised the Transportation Division of MACV J-4:

"The office:

Brigadier General Crowley (TC) J-4
Colonel Smith (Inf) Deputy J-4
Colonel Plate (USAF) Trans Off

Major Clark (TC) Chief Movements Branch
Major Beaver (USAF) Air Force Movements Planner
Major Eckard (USAF) Air Force Movements Planner
Major Kostner (TC) Sealift Planner
Lieutenant Commander Schaefer (USN) Sealift Planner
Captain Jones (TC) Airlift Liaison
Lieutenant Riddle (USN) Sealift Liaison
Sergeant Houston (USAF) Statistician
Specialist 6 Yztonia (TC) Chief Clerk
Sergeant Gray (TC) Clerk
Sergeant Gaines (TC) Clerk

Major Cathrall (TC) Chief Advisory Branch
Major Lange (TC) Advisor
Major Williams (TC) Advisor
Captain Putthammer (TC) Advisor

Major Hanks (TC) Chief Transportation Staff Branch
Captain Heizman (TC) Transportation Staff Officer
Captain Slauer (TC) Transportation Staff Officer
Major Brobeck (TC) Transportation Staff Officer"

If Clark's diary is correct, MACV disciplined Captain Heizman for contracting a sexually transmitted disease by reducing him to non-commissioned officer status and transferring him from Staff Branch to Movements Branch.  Under Article 15 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, General Westmoreland possessed the authority to administer non-judicial punishment for minor offenses.   Clark wrote in his diary on 12 June 1965, "The VD rate is quite high here, approximately 10% of all officers and EM contract VD within 2 months of arriving in the country.  Names of officers infected are reported to General Westmoreland thru channels from the medics." 

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) were a serious problem for MACV.  In 1965, STDs accounted for 280 out of every 1,000 hospital or quarters admissions among U.S. troops in South Vietnam and was the single most prevalent reason for a clinic or hospital visit by a U.S. serviceman.  In comparison, battle wounds accounted for only 61 out of every 1,000 hospital or quarters admissions. [1]

[1]  Medical Support, 1965-1970.  Department of the Army, 1973.  Chapter II - "Health of the Command."

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