Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan [NOOK Book]


In Battlefield Angels historian Scott McGaugh pays homage to the thousands of medics, hospital corpsmen, and battlefield nurses, doctors, surgeons who have provided succor and healing to the more than 40 million warriors who have served in America’s armed forces since the nation’s founding.

McGaugh tells the story of Jonathan Letterman, a Union surgeon during the Civil War who is considered the father of American combat medicine. Letterman ...

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Battlefield Angels: Saving Lives Under Enemy Fire From Valley Forge to Afghanistan

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In Battlefield Angels historian Scott McGaugh pays homage to the thousands of medics, hospital corpsmen, and battlefield nurses, doctors, surgeons who have provided succor and healing to the more than 40 million warriors who have served in America’s armed forces since the nation’s founding.

McGaugh tells the story of Jonathan Letterman, a Union surgeon during the Civil War who is considered the father of American combat medicine. Letterman designed the first battlefield evacuation system after an unprepared medical corps at Bull Run left thousands of soldiers to die in the place where they were wounded. We also learn about Wheeler Lipes, a young navy corpsman and submariner with minimal medical training who on September 11, 1942, conducted the first-ever appendectomy at sea. And, we hear the story of Pfc. Monica Brown, the young army medic who was awarded the Silver Star for rescuing fellow soldiers from a disabled Humvee during an ambush in the Paktika province of Eastern Afghanistan in 2007. Brown is only the second woman in sixty years to receive the prestigious award. Through these stories and many others, McGaugh traces the captivating evolution of battlefield care, from the Revolutionary War to today's battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Battlefield Angels captures "in-the-trenches moments" during which medics and corpsmen fought to save the lives of their comrades.  Along the way, readers will learn the fascinating history of battlefield medicine and how it has benefited both military and civilian medical practice throughout American history. McGaugh also looks ahead to the future, where telemedicine and robotic surgery promise to transform the battlefield once again. In the end, Battlefield Angels both chronicles and pays homage to the men and women in arms who fight every day to save the lives of their fellow soldiers, sailors, and marines.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
McGaugh (Midway Magic) notes that during the past 500 years, for every soldier killed by the enemy, four were severely wounded on the battlefield and ultimately died, Documenting "the extraordinary and unwavering devotion to duty by frontline corpsmen, medics, nurses, doctors, and specialists," McGaugh's march through the centuries emphasizes the resourcefulness and creativity of shorthanded medical workers with few resources, beginning in 1777, when George Washington's medical corps confronted hundreds of wounded and dying men at Georgetown. The Civil War "crystallized the need for a permanent American... commitment to military medicine"; new challenges, such as mustard gas, marked WWI, along with mechanized transportation, which revolutionized battlefield evacuation. In WWII, penicillin became a potent weapon against wound infection. WWII is the core of this book, highlighted by the strange account of corpsman Wheeler Lipes, who made national headlines after he performed the first appendectomy on a submarine. Instead of being honored by the Navy, which did not want operations performed by corpsmen without surgical training, Lipes became the victim of a "hushed smear campaign," suggesting he had performed the operation to catapult his career. Similar fascinating personal profiles surface throughout. McGaugh's extensive interviews for this authoritative history. (July)
From the Publisher
"While one facet of war focuses on killing, McGaugh describes the other war against infections, disease, shock, blood loss, combat, operational stress reaction, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He describes the selfless individuals who risk their own lives to save others." -San Francisco Book Review (November 2011)

Battlefield Angels propels the reader into an alien world of horrific wounds, unimaginable living conditions, and profound responsibility borne by young men and women only a few years past high school. It is a world where corpsmen and medics have lived for hundreds of years.”
–RADM Riley Mixson, USN (ret.), Former Director of Air Warfare for Chief of Naval Operations, USN
“While Battlefield Angels captures the progress of military medicine, it is the story of individual medics and corpsmen saving lives at acute risk that will haunt and inspire the reader long after he or she has passed this fascinating read on to a friend.”
–Richard Setlowe, screenwriter, journalist, military author of The Black Sea and The Brink
“When most people think of war they think of the men who fight, not the countless thousands who have treated their wounds and saved their lives. Those of us who have been wounded on the battlefield cherish their sacrifice and bravery. We know how remarkable they are.”
–Jeff Roy, Ph.D., National Commander, Military Order of the Purple Heart
“Since this nation’s birth, American fighting men and women have faced countless wars and conflicts. At their side have been medics and corpsmen, usually unarmed but for their medical bags. Battlefield Angels is the perfect description of these heroes and McGaugh has done a masterful job of telling the story of the bravest of the brave.”
–Jan K. Herman, Historian if the Navy Medical Department, USN  
“Military medicine not only represents medical science advancements and heroism under fire, it also reflects the increasing role of women in uniform. From nursing in the Civil War to the all-volunteer force in the post-Vietnam era to Army medic Monica Brown’s Silver Star in Afghanistan, Battlefield Angels is a riveting account of both the people and progress of saving lives under fire.”
–RADM Veronica (Ronne) Froman, USN (ret.)

"The writing is riveting. The profiles of those in the medical corps are compelling. The photo sections are equally moving." -North County Times

"Scott McGaugh has written a fantastic book on the history of the American military medical system ... You can’t help coming away stunned at the achievements of the frontline military corpsmen and medical teams, and this book is a much deserved homage to their service." -David A. Galli, Civil War News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781849088671
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/19/2011
  • Series: General Military
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 322,099
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Scott McGaugh is a veteran journalist and the author of Midway Magic (CDS/Perseus) and Midway Memories, an historic photo essay self-published for visitors to the USS Midway Museum. Midway Magic is in its second edition; Midway Memories in its third ( Midway Magic became the basis for a History Channel program, "Hero Ship: The USS Midway," featuring the author. McGaugh is the marketing director of the USS Midway Museum (, which in two years became the most-visited floating ship museum in the world. Television appearances have included the History Channel, Travel Network, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Channel, FOX Network, and Australia's Today Show. Scott makes four to eight public speeches monthly and travels regularly on behalf of the museum. He also is a seasoned marketing communications professional with 24 years of experience with particular emphasis in public relations and promotions. He has held increasingly responsible positions with three of San Diego's leading marketing communications firms and also co-owned one of San Diego's foremost public relations agencies.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Vice Admiral Harold M. Koenig, M.D i

Preface iv

1 Perils of Independence: Revolutionary War 1

2 Battlefield Evacuation: Civil War 13

3 Mechanized War: World War I 29

4 Fighting Infection: World War II: The Pacific 43

5 Defeating Disease: World War II: Tarawa 64

6 Mobile Combat Care: World War II: Europe 84

7 Overcoming Shock: World War II: Peleliu 103

8 Battle Burns: World War II: Iwo Jima 121

9 Medical Care Behind Bars: World War II: Philippines 140

10 Medicine on the Fly: Korean War 158

11 Helos and Hospitals: Vietnam War 176

12 Mass Casualties: Vietnam War 191

13 Battlefield ER: Iraq 206

14 Invisible Scars: Afghanistan and Iraq 224

Conclusion 241

Acknowledgments 250

Select Bibliography 253

Notes 259

Index 265

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2014


    Great book the history of medic and corpsman.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinating stories

    Lots of fascinating anecdotes, but not much substance for research.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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