Badass Medics In History


Well folks we have begun our PCP upgrade here in Saskatchewan, which I intend to touch on at some point. Unfortunately the push back to school has all but sapped my drive to write at the moment. So for the interim I have brought to you another writer worth reading: Jorden Weir’s “The 5 Most Badass Medics in the History of War.” I found the article simultaneously inspiring, horrifying, and humbling.

Weir draws us in with this kick ass opener,

“If you could throw G.I. Joe and Dr. House in a blender together, the military medic is the delicious human smoothie you’d get as a result. While most of us require headphones to block out the slightest distractions during work, combat medics heal fellow humans while bullets and bombs try to kill them. So at the very baseline of the profession, we’re talking about men and women with proverbial balls so big that their fatigues are shaped like Hammer pants.”

His article hit home somewhat, I mentioned I once had considered this career (right up until I realized I was somewhat lacking in proverbial balls). From Weir’s piece I have picked out my personal two favorite badass medics to share. You can read the rest of his article here….

#3. The Medic Who Didn’t Let Paralysis Get Him Down

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images

When Gary Beikirch joined the Green Berets in the mid-’60s, he knew exactly what he was getting into. Joining the military in 1967 was like walking into a Porta-Potty on the second day of a music festival — you know you’re going to see some shit.

Beikirch was part of a special forces team paired with indigenous Vietnamese allies called the Montagnards, and on April 1, 1970, Beikirch’s camp came under a massive assault from the North Vietnamese. After first checking to make sure this wasn’t a tasteless April Fool’s Day prank, Beikirch got straight to work, only his work commute required crossing a live battlefield to reach fallen soldiers. Before he could even get to the first injured Green Beret, Beikirch’s back was hit with a sliver of shrapnel and he was partially paralyzed.

Soooo, game over, right? If the medic needs a medic, it’s time to go home. At the very least, wait out the battle and hope backup arrives before another bomb kills you altogether. But not if you’re Sgt. Gary Beikirch.

He was partially paralyzed, yes, but helpless, no. Beikirch rounded up a few Montagnard assistants to carry him around on a litter so he could give medical attention to the other wounded men. And please remember they were still under fire this whole time — he got shot in the side while giving mouth to mouth and took another bullet in the stomach later. And he kept doing his job, from a stretcher, with two bullets and a hunk of shrapnel in his body.

U.S. Army via Wikipedia
Merely a flesh wound.

For his heroism, Beikirch earned the Medal of Honor from President Nixon and the lifelong respect of anyone who’s called in sick over a sniffly nose. The best news of all is that after six months of recovery in Japan, Beikirch was not only able to walk again but went on to spend 20 years on a completely different battleground — serving as a counselor at a middle school.

#2. The 21-Year-Old Air Rescue Superman

U.S. Air Force

William Pitsenbarger wasn’t just a medic and an airman, he was a member of the Air Force’s Pararescue team, the guys who fly down from the sky to save military asses. By age 21, Bill, or “Pits” as he was known to his friends, had flown almost 300 rescue missions in Vietnam. Just compare that to the one thing you’d done at least 300 times by age 21 (yes, “masturbating” is the answer).

On April 11, 1966, Pits and his crew were dispatched to an area just east of Saigon where a small platoon of American troops had just been ambushed. His mission was to extract wounded infantry and provide medical assistance to the 20 or so who were left fighting. Since the fighting was taking place in the jungle, there was no place for the helicopters to land, so Pits lowered himself down into the bullet storm via a casualty basket and began getting shit done. He quickly tended to the nine wounded, patching them up the best he could, chucking them in the basket, and raising them up into the chopper. When it came time for him to go up himself, Pits refused to hop in, deciding that the extra space in the helicopter could be better used to cram in more wounded.

When the choppers came back to get him, one of them was damaged by small-arms fire as it was lowering a cable down. The engine immediately began losing power, and Pits, after presumably weighing the risks of dangling from a rope under a several-ton, sputtering, rotary-winged bullet magnet, decided to take his chances in the middle of the raging battle and, for the second time, waved the chopper away.

U.S. Air Force
“If I wanted a vehicle that was full of holes, I’d go see After Earth again!”

Over the next couple of hours, Pits tended to the wounded, and when medical supplies began to run short, he got creative. Did a soldier have a broken arm? Pits splinted him up with some snarled vines. Did somebody need a stretcher? Pits hacked up saplings and used them to spirit the incapacitated men to safety.

Unfortunately, he was killed in action by sniper fire in the night. When his body was found the next morning, he was clutching a rifle in one hand and a medical kit in the other.

Find out who Weir lists as the #1 Badass Medic here:

These are my kind of heroes.

Know another badass medic? I’d love to hear about them.



2 thoughts on “Badass Medics In History

  1. Hi Vanessa 🙂

    First of all this post is seriously badass.

    Second of all I’m not sure if you remember me but I commented on your post: way back in the summer (I’m Bonnie Godin)!

    I hope this isn’t bothersome to ask or anything and if you’re too busy to reply it’s okay; it’s just that the season has come for me to start sending out resumes and I was just wondering if you knew of any services hiring? I’ve sent a few out to places such as Parkland in Prince Albert and WPD in North Battleford, but how’s your area? Know anyone willing to take a look at an Ontario PCP student :)?

    Anywho; keep writing ;)! It’s been too long and I’ve been followin’ along this whole time.

    Thanks again and hope this isn’t stepping over any boundaries with ya!!
    Bonnie Godin

    • Thanks for the post Bonnie.
      I’ve been preoccupied with this upgrade Saskatchewan College of Paramedics has us doing…it’s zapping my creative energy (although I feel a post about IV starts bubbling around in my brain somewhere since we start our lab portion tomorrow.)
      As for work, I know Rosetown in Saskatchewan has been posting a lot in the last month. I subscribe to and I get job posting right to my inbox (well currently my junk inbox but I still peak from time to time). Check this out….
      Any time you have any questions I’d be happy to help! You are encouraging me as well, just in a different way. 🙂 Best of luck and I’m positive you will find something! Just remember those darn out of province licensing fees haha.

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