Veterans Day: Letters from the Heart Feature Story
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Just out of USC’s medical school and with only three months of on-the-job training in anesthesiology, a young doctor was assigned to a MASH unit in one of the deadliest spots during some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War.
The then 26-year-old Capt. Jonathan Benumof worked day and night — sometimes 72 hours straight — to save the lives of soldiers and even women and children caught in the crossfire brought into the mobile hospital.
The year was 1969, which saw some of the most brutal fighting as the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong launched their Tet offensive. Combat was most heavy along the demilitarized zone near where Benumof’s 18th Mobile Army Surgical Unit was set up at firebase Camp Evans.
“I was standing there, watching soldiers go to fight,” Dr. Benumof, now 79, said. “I prayed for them knowing we’d be operating on them later that night, and I knew many would not return. I would work to exhaustion for them.”
The article also ran here:
A happy day in my career. I pitched this story over and over and it was finally written up and it was reprinted today in nearly a dozen So Cal newspapers. It's a story of love...and a lousy Vietnam War!
CHECK OUT ALL OF THESE LINKS - GREAT!!!
Daily Breeze - Torrance and the South Bay (acquired from the San Diego-based Copley Press in 2007)
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin - Pomona Valley and Ontario; originally were two separate papers: the Pomona Progress-Bulletin and the Ontario Daily Report (merged in April 1990) (acquired in 1999 from Donrey).
Press-Telegram - Long Beach serving the greater Long Beach area
Los Angeles Daily News - Los Angeles metropolitan area (San Fernando Valley) and Northern Los Angeles County
Orange County Register - Anaheim serving Orange County
Pasadena Star-News - Pasadena serving the greater Pasadena area
Redlands Daily Facts - Redlands (acquired in 1999 from Donrey) serving the Redlands area
The Press-Enterprise - Riverside serving western and central Riverside County
The San Bernardino Sun - San Bernardino County serving the San Bernardino Valley
San Gabriel Valley Tribune - Monrovia serving the central and east San Gabriel Valley
Whittier Daily News - Whittier serving the Pico Rivera and Whittier areas
Thousands of miles away in her Los Angeles apartment, Benumof’s new bride, Sherrie, then 24, got a front-row seat to his bloody year of war through the hundreds of letters he had promised to send.
In “Letters From the Heart,” recently published and co-written with Sherrie, Jonathan Benumof details his non-stop work while in Vietnam from January 1969 to January 1970, his despair over the loss of life, his love for Sherrie and his desire to get back home.
It is a war story many Vietnam War veterans will find familiar, Benumof said. And a reminder, as Veterans Day is celebrated today, of the loved ones back home who provide comfort and connection when times are at their darkest.