MIESAU ARMY DEPOT, Germany — “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen.”
The above title of the last episode of the popular TV series “M*A*S*H” could have been a fitting send-off Monday as the last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was converted to a Combat Support Hospital.
The 212th MASH formally became the 212th CSH (pronounced “cash”) at a Monday morning ceremony.
“The heart of the unit is the soldiers in it and the families that support them,” said Col. Terry Carroll, 30th Medical Brigade commander. “The heart hasn’t changed. We’ve just given you some new toys, given you a new name, a new set of colors, but the heart of the 212th MASH lives on in the 212th CSH.”
The unit’s history dates to World War I, in 1917 when it was known as Evacuation Hospital No. 12. It became known as the 12th Evacuation Hospital in 1936 and was redesignated the 212th MASH in 1992. Since 2003, the unit has deployed to Iraq, participated in the MEDFLAG exercise in Angola and treated earthquake victims last year in Pakistan.
Col. Angel L. Lugo, 212th CSH commander, had a message for the soldiers Monday.
“You can be assured that when you are deployed and the 212th CSH is supporting you, if you become seriously sick, injured or wounded and you make it to the 212th CSH, you will live,” he said. “That’s how great Army medicine is, and that’s how well-equipped and competent the soldiers of the 212th CSH are anywhere.”
In becoming a combat support hospital, the unit has nearly doubled in size, going from about 130 to more than 250 soldiers. It also has about $5 million worth of equipment after donating its hospital to the Pakistani military following the earthquake relief mission.
The 84-bed combat support hospital is modular in design and provides intermediate-care wards. In addition, the 212th CSH has specialties such as obstetrics/gynecology, community health and mental health. The combat support hospital is better capable of treating soldiers who once had to be evacuated for additional care.
“It gives us the ability to hold soldiers on the battlefield a little bit longer, if needed,” Lugo said. “We still maintain that 100 percent mobile, early-entry hospital that we have with our 44-bed capability. Then we add the other 40 beds to make it the 84-bed capability.”
So will Lugo miss the comparisons to the “M*A*S*H television show?
“You mention the word MASH and [people] associate it with a field hospital that saved lives on the battlefield,” he said. “That connection is what I’ll miss. Our soldiers are not like those TV characters. … Our soldiers are professionals on the battlefield. Our doctors and nurses are focused on taking care of those that are wounded and injured on the battlefield.”