The Thomas Hardye School

Good Morning Vietnam!

Robin Wallace

 

Ten budding historians had their history studies brought to life when they met a former Thomas Hardye student who had served in the Vietnam War.

Robin Wallace trained as a doctor and moved to America in 1965. Upon returning home in 1967 he received an envelope drafting him into the US Army Medical Corps. After discussions with his father who had been on active duty rebuilding public health in the liberated countries of Europe following D-Day in 1944, Robin joined the US army and arrived in Vietnam in May 1969.

He was stationed in the Mekong Delta providing medical support to the Green Berets, Navy and Air Force as well as Vietnamese civilians. At one point a child with a congenital heart defect was flown via Pan Am to his contact at Boston Children’s Hospital to receive corrective surgery before being returned to Vietnam. As well as gaining an insider’s perspective on the realities of the war which GCSE students study as an aspect of the Cold War, Robin also provided a fascinating insight into how the war helped the development of medical treatments which is part of their ‘Health and the People 1000AD to present’ unit. Specifically Robin discussed the use of Flagyl in the treatment of Amoebic dysentery which contributed to the use of this treatment domestically.

Alice Thursby said “it backed up what we have learnt in lessons about how people at the time opposed the war, but also offered a different perspective for example how the American medics helped the Vietnamese people as well. It was fascinating to learn how the American media concealed facts about the war in their media coverage, for example Robin didn’t know about the use of Napalm and Agent Orange until after the war.”

Overall, it was a truly fascinating experience for students to interview someone who experienced these iconic events first hand. An edited video version of the interview will be used in future Year 10 and 11 GCSE history lessons.

 

March 2018