Army Mom’s Safe Haven

John Adragna


U.S. Army Combat Medic, World War 2
China, Burma, India Theatre

John Adragna: Portable Surgical Hospitals
"Moon Over Burma" by Howard Baer - 1944
A Portable Surgical Unit operating at night in the Burmese jungle


An extract of an email from John Adragana to Christina

Your question about PSH is right on. PSH certainly means "Portable Surgical Hospital". Let me tell you how it was with us in 1943: Because of the nature of our enemy who didn't recognize the Geneva Convention or any other "civilized" rules of warfare, we were armed combat medics. We carried rifles and carbines, tommy guns and 45 automatics. We knew that the Japanese would use the red cross symbol as a target! We were constantly on the move along with our Chinese infantrymen, taking villages and towns from the Japanese. We slept in jungle hammocks slung between trees. We slept with our rifles at our sides. Our "hospital" was a tent that was erected and taken down when we moved. Food became scarce.

Our latrines were slit trenches. Showers were unheard of. We used our helmets as wash basins. I weighed 90 lbs at the end of the campaign. We lived with deprivation every day. On the day we took our objective, Tengchung, a walled city at the Burma border occupied by the Japanese for several years, we regrouped and headed east toward Hong Kong. This meant that we would certainly be involved in the invasion of Japan. President Truman probably saved our lives when he ordered the A bomb dropped on Japan. After that, we started back on our way home. I was discharged on Thanksgiving Day, 1945.

If you have any questions about what I just wrote you, do not hesitate to ask.

John Adragna
September 24, 2005

©Copyright September 24, 2005 by John Adragna