Anthony J. ‘Tony' Perry
Staff sergeant, U.S. Air Force
Served in Vietnam 1967-71, and with 483rd USAF Hospital at Cam Ranh Bay from 1970 to 1971.
Memory: “The Cam Ranh Bay peninsula consisted of a U.S. Army base, a U.S. Navy base, a U.S. Air Force base and a South Korean marine artillery brigade. During my nine months of duty as a medical corpsman with the hospital, the peninsula came under attack at least 12 times. The attacks were from rockets and/or mortars that fell randomly and ‘sappers,' which were enemy troops that infiltrated our defensive perimeter to commit sabotage. Frequently at night, tracer bullets flew overhead, and yet this was one of the safest places to serve in the war.
“From July 1970 into January 1971, I was assigned to Ward 5, which was part of the ‘hearts and minds campaign' ... to help gain victory by use of non-hostile actions with the civilian population. Vietnamese civilians of all ages received medical care and treatment for any type of illness or injury, including wounds and injuries from war. On one occasion, a wounded female enemy combatant was a patient for a short time until her wound healed enough for her to be taken to a prison. All patients were treated with professional medical care, as well as compassion, dignity and respect. Kindness and friendship were offered to all patients and their families.
“In late December, I was surprised by a visit from John Hlavacek, an Omaha television reporter who was on a trip to the war zone to film and interview soldiers from the Omaha area. I still feel privileged and proud of John's story about my part in the war. My family and friends enjoyed seeing me on the news.
“In January 1971, Ward 5 was closed and I was assigned to the 903rd Medical Evacuation Wing, which was also attached to the hospital. Our mission was the transportation of patients onto and off of various types of aircraft. This job required very little, if any, patient care but it was extremely physical. In March, I sustained a noncombat injury and became a customer of the 903rd, as I was medivac'd from Cam Ranh Bay to the Ehrling Bergquist Hospital at Offutt Air Force Base for treatment and eventual discharge from military service.
“Prior to my service in South Vietnam, I was assigned to the USAF Hospital at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, where I met my wife. Mary was one of my officers, a nurse that I worked with. We have celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary.”