Enemy POW Hospital Guard Mission
~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association ~ Vietnam History Project ~
This Page Last Updated  27 October 2008
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        The 720th MP Battalion MPs secured enemy being treated at military hospitals on Long Binh Post and other Allied bases where  their detachments were stationed for most if not all of the U.S. and allied units that operated within III and IV Corps Tactical Zones. 1st Infantry Division, 5th Special Forces Group, 9th Infantry Division, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 199th Light Infantry Brigade, Royal Australian Forces.
18th Bde.
89th GP
1st ID
1st CAV
5th SFG
9th ID
11th ACR
25th ID
101st AB
199th LIB
173rd AB
        Being assigned to Hospital Guard duty in a recovery ward was not at the top of the list of many MPs as their favorite assignments. The shifts were long, usually 12 hours, and the duty was boring. About the only good things that could be said about it was the quality of food served, and the interaction with U.S. nurses.
        The makeup of the Hospital Guard mission would depend on the hospital facility and location of the unit involved. On Long Binh Post two major military hospitals handled wounded or injured detainees, and known enemy POWs for emergency care, they were the 93rd  Evacuation Hospital and the 24th Evacuation Hospital.  Both had separate wards dedicated to handel a number of enemy POW's.
93rd EVAC
24th EVAC
        A POW Hospital Compound on Long Binh Post, staffed by the 50th Medical Company (Clearing) became operational sometime during 1967-1968. The exact date has yet to be determined. The compound, also referred to in records as the 74th Field Hospital, was set up specifically to house those enemy POWs that were not in serious condition but still to ill to move to the III Corps ARVN POW Compound at Bien Hoa.
        The compound was encircled by a double perimeter of nine foot high chain link fence with each ward separated by chain link fence, a guard tower at each corner and the entire perimeter lighted.

        Part of the 24th Evacuation Hospital, it was staffed with MP guards provided by the Battalion. When the 50th Medical Company departed the compound medical staffing was provided by the 24th Evacuation Hospital.

        The POW hospital and compound was the largest detainee hospital in South Vietnam. It had a capacity of 250 patient detainees and was equipped with the necessary facilities for all. There the detainees received the same excellent medical attention that was available to United States and Allied Forces. Many who would have normally died from wounds or diseases left the hospital alive and well.

        The Battalion provided MP guards on a rotating shift to provide security for the special wards and the compound. The security mission was performed 24 hours a day seven days a week by an average commitment of two Noncommissioned Officers and fifteen enlisted men per 12 hour shift.

        Any time a new patient detainee arrived, an existing patient detainee was discharged or died, the information and POW head count was posted on the Hospita; Guard MP duty Log and reported immediately to the Battalion Operations (S3) Office and noted in the Daily Activities Log.

Example: 1 February 1968, 0730 hours, POW Status At 7:30 AM, SGT Michael J. Maratea,[A Company] Hospital Guards, notified this office that POW, Na Mang Van #2049 expired at 0658 hours (6:58 AM), this date from multiple gun shot wounds. He was pronounced by CPT Schwarto, 50th Medical Company. POW count changed to 110.
        Because of the long hours and repetitious duty the Hospital Guard missions were often rotated between the squad's and platoons within the respective companies. Each shift also rotated assignments every couple of hours to break up the monotonous routine.

        Under the rules of the Geneva Conventions for POWs, the exploitation of POWs was expressly forbidden. Photographing of POWs within the hospital, with very few exceptions, fell under this rule and was strictly enforced. Thus the limited availability of photographs for this section of the website to show the Hospital Guard mission inside the wards.

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