Medical unit in Germany looks back at history in marking its 100th anniversary

Members of the 212th Combat Support Hospital pose in period uniforms during a ceremony marking the unit's 100th anniversary, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017.


By WILL MORRIS | STAR AND STRIPES Published: December 28, 2017

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — A hundred years ago, when the Army established Evacuation Hospital No. 12, the world was a starkly different place.

Europe was locked in the first great war of the 20th century. Arriving in France in August 1918 as part of the U.S. Expeditionary Force, the men of Evacuation Hospital No. 12 faced massive casualties caused by artillery, poison gas attacks and trench warfare. They lacked penicillin and many other medicines that are now commonplace.

Today the same unit, renamed the 212th Combat Support Hospital and based at Rhine Ordnance Barracks, sends surgical teams directly into forward areas across the world using resources that can be found in any modern hospital.

On Thursday the unit gathered to commemorate its birthday and 100 years of its history.

“It’s always been a prestigious unit,” said Col. John White, deputy commander for administration for the 212th. “It’s the only hospital that’s been around since World War I.”

As part of the ceremony, seven members of the unit dressed in period uniforms from all of the conflicts in which that the hospital has served. During each of these campaigns, with the exception of Korea, the 212th operated hospitals in forward areas treating thousands of patients.

In World War II, the unit treated patients from D-Day and sent special surgical teams behind enemy lines to treat wounded soldiers in Bastogne. The groups preformed 50 major surgeries before other Army units could catch up to them.

It is estimated the unit treated 26,000 patients during World War II. During the Vietnam War, the unit, known then as the 12th Evacuation Hospital, treated more than 37,000 patients.

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A soldier from the 212th Combat Support Hospital stands at parade rest at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in period uniform from World War I. Members of the 212th marked the unit's 100th anniversary.

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