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Short History of Military Nursing : Korean War, 1950-1953

Did You Know?

It was in the Korean War when Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals were first introduced. MASH units are credited with reducing deaths from battle wounds by 50 percent compared to World War II figures. Helicopters were also first introduced to evacuate wounded while also sustaining the force with troops and supplies.

When the Korean War began in June 1950, women in the armed services numbered about 22,000 worldwide. Roughly 7,000 of these women were healthcare professionals. Some Army nurses served in Mobile Army Surgical Hospital or M.A.S.H. units. Some Navy nurses served on board hospital ships in waters surrounding Korea. Air Force nurses flew in and out of Korea on MEDEVAC aircraft. Many nurses staffed the hospitals in Japan where thousands of war casualties were transported.

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Background of the War

The Korean War (25 June 1950 – 27 July 1953) was a war between the Republic of Korea (supported primarily by the United States of America, with contributions from allied nations under the aegis of the United Nations) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (supported by the People's Republic of China, with military and material aid from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). The Korean War was primarily the result of the political division of Korea by an agreement of the victorious Allies at the conclusion of the Pacific War at the end of World War II. The situation escalated into open warfare when North Korean forces invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950. It was the first significant armed conflict of the Cold War.

The United States of America provided 88% of the 341,000 international soldiers which aided South Korean forces in repelling the invasion, with twenty other countries of the United Nations offering assistance. The active stage of the war ended on 27 July 1953, when the armistice agreement was signed. The agreement restored the border between the Koreas near the 38th Parallel and created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a 2.5-mile (4.0 km)-wide fortified buffer zone between the two Korean nations. Minor outbreaks of fighting continue to the present day.

Wisconsin Historical Society

The Wisconsin Historical Society Archives (located on the 4th floor) provides access to collections of unpublished materials about the history of Wisconsin and a wide array of topics related to North American history. These collections include letters, diaries, organization records, state and local government records, photographs, films, oral histories and many other kinds of unique materials documenting American history.

All unpublished personal or corporate manusctips will be located in the Archives Reading Room.  For more information about visiting the Archives and using the materials, please consult the visition page to learn how to access the collections.  It is important to understand that ArCat and UW's Library Catalog are two separate catalogs. Searching the Library Catalog will not provide information on Archives sources.

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