Servicing military operations

In 1962 the Naval Hospital provided the services of a typical community hospital to active duty members, retirees, and their dependents, and veterans at its current location in Agana Heights.

Then, in September 1965 the hospital began receiving casualties from Vietnam via aero-medical evacuation. The average daily census increased from approximately 100 to well over 300, and in 1968 and 1969 often exceeded 700. Due to the continuing influx of patients from Viet Nam, the renovation of the former Asan Point Civil Service Community was begun, with 65 new Quonset and Butler type buildings added in 1966.

In 1968 what was known as the Advanced Base Naval Hospital (a.k.a. Asan Annex) was opened to care for 1,200 patients. The new hospital was designed to be a completely self-contained unit staffed by some thirty-seven doctors, eighty nurses and nearly 500 other personnel, with the capacity to care for 1,200 patients.

By July 1970 the hospital had received over 17,000 patients by aero-medical evacuation and returned over 14,000 to the continental United States. After the draw down from Vietnam in 1973 the annex closed and the hospital became quiet again and served the 10,000 military assigned to Guam and their dependents, as well acting as a Veterans Hospital and the local trauma center.

It has been reawakened over the years for various reasons. Operation New Life, from April 23 to October 16, 1975, brought 100,000 refugees from South Vietnam to Guam. They were housed at the hospital’s Asan Annex and treated by hospital staff, as well as by Army personnel brought in to help.

In mid-June 1991 the hospital supported Operation Fiery Vigil; the evacuation of the Philippines after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on Luzon Island. Operation Fiery Vigil became the largest peacetime evacuation of active duty military personnel and family members in history. More than 20,000 American evacuees and more than 1,100 pets were cared for at Andersen Air Force Base in northern Guam.

From 1996 to 1997 during the evacuation of Kurdish, Muslim, Iraqi, Iranian, and Turkish people from Iraq in Operation Pacific Haven, the staff had a crash course in the problems that occur when providing medical treatment across cultures. One of the most heroic incidents in the hospital’s recent history involved treating survivors of the August 6, 1997 crash of Korean Airlines Flight 801 on Nimitz Hill.

Today the hospital is again preparing to meet the increased needs of a larger patient population as new ships are being home ported on Guam and transfer of other units is being considered.

By Alice Hadley
Naval Hospital Librarian, Guam

For further reading

US Naval Hospital Guam. “Guam Medical Library.” Last modified 20 September 2005.

US Navy Medicine. “About Us.”