(Gerald Waller/Stars and Stripes)

Offenbach, West Germany, March, 1951: Although it saved many lives, the tank respirator — also known as the iron lung — was a dreaded symbol of polio to many who grew up in the early 1950s before the arrival of Dr. Salk’s vaccine. The iron lung on display in the photo was bought for the Offenbach hospital with funds provided by the German Youth Activities group at Rhein-Main Air Base. The device was crucial in the early stages of polio when paralysis of chest muscles made breathing difficult.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now