In the Company of Marines: Lourdes Physician Publishes Memoir Recalling Experiences as Combat Surgeon in Vietnam
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
CAMDEN, N.J.-- On a September day in 1967, a young surgeon boarded a plane at Philadelphia International Airport and headed off to war. Like many young men of his generation, James Finnegan, MD could hardly have been branded an ideologue.
"I had no particular knowledge of why we were fighting, no understanding of the threat of communism, and certainly no concept of where in the world Vietnam was located or why it was important," recalled Dr. Finnegan, who is double board certified in general and thoracic surgery. What was important to him was his nation was at war and men even younger than him were fighting and dying on the far side of the world. And, Dr. Finnegan knew that his surgical skills could help save some of them.
"In the Company of Marines: A Surgeon Remembers Vietnam," is a newly published memoir by Dr. Finnegan, a surgeon on staff at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, that tells the often harrowing story of his year serving as a combat surgeon assigned to the Third Marine Division in the northernmost provinces of South Vietnam.
During the siege of Khe Sanh, from January through April 1968, he was the commanding officer of a surgical team consisting of four Navy physicians and 26 Navy corpsmen, which treated more than 2,500 wounded Marines. On Feb. 29, 1968, Dr. Finnegan sustained shrapnel wounds from an incoming mortar explosion and was awarded a Purple Heart. He also was awarded the Bronze Star with a Combat V for valor.
Dr. Finnegan's book is available on sale online at http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/in-the-company-of-marines-a-surgeon-remembers-vietnam/6895204. Copies are also on sale in the Gift Shop at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center.