Captain to discuss MASH unit in Korea at next American Legion dinner
From local reportsCapt. Herman F. Froeb, M.D. MC, USA, a medical officer in Korea with the 8228 MASH unit, will be guest speaker at the American Legion San Diego Post 275 dinner, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 at the La Jolla Shores Hotel, 8110 Camino Del Oro.
This informal biography hits some of the highlights of his speech:
Dr. Froeb served as a medical officer 1951-1958, and was called to active duty during the Korean War from the Reserve. His first year, 1951-1952, was at the Army Medical Nutrition Lab in Chicago testing blood substitutes in dogs
During this year, he met his bride, Helen Kiddoo, and they married in 1952. After 10 days of honeymoon, he shipped out to Korea from Travis Air Force base and left his bride at the gate. She came over to Japan three months later on her own as a tourist to be near her new husband, who was only a stone’s throw away in Korea. He was then off to join a special medical hospital, the 8228 MASH in Songuri, four kilometers northwest of Seoul.
This MASH unit received all the undiagnosed fevers in Korea, particularly Epidemic Hemorrhagic Fever, which had severely infected the 1st Cavalry Division with an 18-percent mortality rate in the early phase of the war and was still present in 1952-1953. There was no specific treatment for this viral disease, which was transmitted by mites off rodents. It was even transmitted to the troops in the rear from dirty laundry sent from the forward areas.
Dr. Froeb’s duties consisted of taking care of the patients with supporting therapy for shock and internal bleeding.
When the epidemics subsided in December, MASH life was somewhat as depicted on the TV show, the doctor reports. However, when the helicopters came in with the sick, it was back to work, and many times that meant sleeping in a cot next to a very sick patient.
The unit functioned as if it were a teaching hospital. All the medical officers were chosen for their previous research experience. Dr. Froeb was engaged in special studies of kidney function and there were professors from the states who had been sent over to assist in treating and studying this disease.
All of their work was eventually published in the American Journal of Medicine in 1954.
Froeb was awarded the 8th Army Commendation Medal for his work.
The experience in Korea was shared with his wife who was nearby in Tokyo. He was able to join her on three temporary duty assignments, which included such heavy-duty matters as buying a Pachinco pinball machine for the enlisted men’s club and getting it back to his unit, and finally getting his wife to return home with him on a troop ship from Yokohama for $10.
Dr. Froeb came to La Jolla in 1956 — the 10th doctor of the Scripps Clinic staff — as an internist and pulmonary physician. He later transferred to private practice at Scripps Memorial Hospital, 1964-2002. He also served as an associate professor of clinical medicine at UCSD.
He received his medical degree from Duke University in 1947 after finishing his pre-med studies at Princeton in the class of ‘46. His post-graduate training was at Bellevue in New York City and at USC (Good Samaritan Hospital) before coming to La Jolla.
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