MASH Field Hospital Diorama at AFHM
In this section of the Armed Forces History Museum, you will discover a recreated US Army MASH field hospital. The diorama is a fully equipped surgical operating tent manned by a surgeon appropriately dressed holding original medical instruments. Another unique addition to this display is an M21 ambulance which has been fully restored and – as every other piece is in the museum – is fully operational. In the back of the ambulance lie three wounded soldiers waiting to be treated. Note, these soldiers are fully equipped and presented as they would have been when they left the battlefield for transport to the aid station. In addition, this diorama houses a large display case featuring an assortment of authentic instruments, bandages and other field gear.
A Brief Look at the MASH Units in the Korean War
First established in 1945 by Dr. Michael Debakey, these mobile units were fully self-contained, working medical hospitals. The first deployment of a MASH unit occurred during the Korean War. The use of the MASH units allowed experienced medical personnel to remain closer to the front, which would minimize transport time of the wounded. Soldiers were trained to administer on site whatever first aid they could and then they soldier(s) would be sent to a battalion aid station to assist with stabilizing the soldier before transporting to the MASH Medical Unit for more extensive treatment. This greatly increased the wounded soldiers chances for survival – some estimates say as high as 97% – once treatment was received at a MASH unit.
MASH units continued to operate into the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom. By 1997 though, the final MASH unit in South Korea was disbanded and worldwide, the last deactivation of a MASH unit occurred in Febraury, 2006. Just prior to the deactivation, the unit was sent to Pakistan to assist with the relief operations after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. While here, the US State Department purchased all the tents and medical supplies of this MASH unit and donated the entire unit to the Pakistani military. The donation was estimated at a value over $4.5 million.