Ronald Glaser, wrote a touching novel about the wounded in Vietnam, died at the age of 83

As many as 40 stretchers per hour were taking off from medical flights – Marines, Marines, and downed helicopter crews wounded in the North Vietnam offensive in late 1968.

Robert Glaser wanted help, but he hadn’t been in the operating room since medical school. The 29-year-old doctor He was drafted to the rank of captain and assigned to a small pediatric unit at a military hospital in Zama, Japan. His job was to treat children of American military families stationed in the region.

The colonel met him on the stairs. Medical teams were struggling with The huge number of victims. Dr. Glaser explained that he might be a bit rusty as a surgeon.

“It’s okay, Captain,” said the colonel, Remembers Dr. Glaser“We’ll give you little wounds.”

Clean up Dr. Glaser. Without knowing it at the time, he was about to embark on a journey into the personal suffering of the war-wounded and the cost to those who try – and sometimes fail – to keep them alive. His 1971 book, “365 days,” It became part of the canon of first-hand accounts from the Vietnam War for its incoherent account of what he witnessed amidst young men whose lives were torn apart by horrific injuries and trauma, capturing at times the violent attitude of many service members towards the land for which they were meant to fight.

“It’s not political. It’s just what it was,” said Dr. Glaser, who died August 26 at Veterans Hospital in Minneapolis at the age of 83.

Dr. Glaser said he had no intention of writing about his experiences in the military, three years after receiving his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. War viewer. He thought he would spend his time with the US Army Medical Corps at the hospital in Zama, one of four US field hospitals in the Japanese farm belt southwest of Tokyo.

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However, he was shocked by the scale of serious casualties or fatal injuries coming from Vietnam. Between 6000 and 8000 soldiers per month were moved from battle sites, minefields, and ambush attacks. He wrote, “I soon realized that the soldiers pulling those medical helicopters were just kids” — no older than his child patients back home.

His book, whose title refers to a year’s stint in Vietnam, blends the raw pain and fear of the wounded with Dr. Glaser’s eye doctor of how their bodies were torn apart. Many reviewers note Dr. Glaser’s lean and observant style, putting “365 Days” alongside some of the more honest and truthful accounts of the human cost of the war.

Dr. Glaser dedicated the book to Stephen Crane, whose “Red Badge of Courage” vividly depicts the battlefields of the Civil War.

Michael J. Michelson, physician and editor, wrote in an article for the New York Times: “What is remarkable and even noble in this book is not something new, but something old and almost forgotten: sympathy, which is not bound by dogma or controversy but which may include the agony of the Vietnamese peasant or The American officer; a sensation that knows not only the dead…but the killers.”

However, some public libraries and schools did not keep it in their piles due to the soldiers’ use of profanity – a move that Dr. Glaser’s advocates found short-sighted given the Fierce anti-war protests The daily body depends on the evening news. The book also reached the National Book Award finals.

Dr. Glaser testified at a 1981 federal court hearing in Bangor, Maine, after a school banned the book: “They couldn’t say ‘Julie G’, and they didn’t.” That wasn’t enough. [The words] They showed their suffering. They don’t go home and use that language. They were desperate.”

Outside the courtroom, veterans in full combat gear walked in to support the book. (The court in January 1982 ordered the school to Return it to the library.)

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“At first I talked to the kids just to have something to say and to get them to talk. Later I realized they were all saying the same things – without saying it completely,” he wrote.

“They were worried, every single one of them, not about the big things, not about surviving, but about how they would interpret their missing legs or weakness in their right arms,” ​​he continued. Will they embarrass their families? …Will anyone like them when they come back? “

He also wrote in horrific detail about the injuries – shredded legs, burnt faces, disfigured fingers – as well as the men who didn’t make it.

On a soldier badly wounded by a mine blast: “There was not enough skin to completely close his surgical wounds, so his stumps were left open. … Despite antibiotics, his wounds became infected. On the fourth night in the ward he attempted suicide. … In On the seventh day, his temperature reached 106 degrees Fahrenheit. He lost consciousness, and seven days after his injury it expired.”

Ronald Joel Glaser was born in Chicago on May 31, 1939 to parents who owned a restaurant. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor’s degree in 1961 and remained at the university for his medical degree in 1965, later specializing in pediatric nephrology during a fellowship at the University of Minnesota.

He finished “365 Days” after returning from a two-year deployment at the military hospital. He wrote: “For me, it was not my wish that I had never joined the army, but that this book could never have been written.”

Dr. Glaser wrote four more books while working in pediatrics, first as a professor at the University of Minnesota and then in private practice until his retirement in 2016.

“The 402 Suite” (1973) and “The Body Is the Hero” (1976) analyze the limitations in modern medical training to treat patients comprehensively; Another War, Another Peace (1985) follows a doctor during the Vietnam War. in “Broken bodies, broken minds(2011), Dr. Glaser looked at the history and developments of military medicine and also advocated a better understanding of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, among war veterans.

At the time, he said PTSD research was particularly important because troops in Afghanistan increasingly faced blasts from improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. “The greatest success of medicine in Afghanistan is the recognition and relationship between traumatic brain injury, concussion injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder,” He told NPR’s “All things considered.”

His 10-year marriage to Janis Amatuzio ended in divorce in 1992. In 2008, he married Joey Atman, who confirmed her death from dementia-related complications. She said they separated in 2018, but she effectively remains his “wife and partner”.

Among the survivors are three sons from his second marriage, Rachel, Benjamin and Aaron Silberman.

In “365 Days,” Dr. Glaser was repeatedly shocked at how young recruits obeyed orders and did their duty in the field even though some were vehemently against the war. They were all counting the days.

He wrote “Strange War”. “Going to something they didn’t believe in or didn’t care about, just to make it 365 days and get it done.”

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