MASH unit returns to Germany from final mission in Pakistan
February 23, 2006
MIESAU, Germany — It wasn’t as widely watched as the last episode of the TV series “M*A*S*H,” but Tuesday’s homecoming ceremony for the final mission of the Army’s only remaining Mobile Army Surgical Hospital was just as moving.
Eighty-two members of the 212th MASH returned to Miesau Army Depot on Tuesday afternoon following a four-month deployment to earthquake-ravaged Pakistan. Dozens of fellow soldiers, wives, children and even a few dogs were on hand to welcome home the uniformed men and women, who treated more than 20,000 people and performed 425 surgeries on Pakistanis, including victims of the country’s Oct. 8 earthquake.
“If that doesn’t make you proud, check your proud meter,” said Col. Terry Carroll, commander of the 30th Medical Brigade. “It ought to make you proud.
“Each one of these soldiers sacrificed a Christmas, a Thanksgiving. They sacrificed the growth of their children for three or four or five months. They sacrificed so that others could live.”
MASH units became a part of popular culture in the 1970s and early ’80s when the television show “M*A*S*H” aired on CBS. The sitcom aired for 11 years and depicted a fictional MASH unit serving in the Korean War.
Some similarities exist between the fictional 4077th MASH of TV fame and the actual 212th MASH, said Col. Angel L. Lugo, commander of the 212th MASH.
“The scenes in the [operating room] where they were saving lives, the scenes where they were running to the helicopters — that, this MASH did,” Lugo said. “All the other stuff? Nah. One of my guys said, ‘We don’t have any stills around. We have a lot of coffee.’”
Before leaving Pakistan, the 212th handed over its 84-bed mobile hospital to Pakistan in a ceremony last week. The hospital equipment is worth about $4.5 million.
“We only left our equipment,” Lugo said. “It’s our people that make up the 212th MASH. It’s our people that give the 212th its heart, its reputation and the history that goes behind it.”
The 212th will convert to a Combat Support Hospital, or CASH, in October. The unit is expected to get 150 more soldiers and additional equipment.
The one thing Capt. Frank Blake, 212th MASH Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, will remember from the deployment is building relations with Pakistan.
“Years from now, I will remember the relationship with the Pakistanis,” he said. “They are just such a warm-hearted group of people and make you feel at home.”
Also on Tuesday, soldiers from Company C, 44th Signal Battalion arrived home to Mannheim, Germany, from supporting the 212th MASH in Pakistan.
The team of 12 soldiers deployed to Pakistan and provided the 212th MASH with Internet, secure Internet, video teleconferencing and phones within 24 hours of hitting the ground, according to a 5th Signal Command news release.