Today marks 65 years since the start of the Korean War, and for one retired Prairie Village physician, its an occasion to remember his time working the MASH hospitals made famous by the 1970s television show.
Gerhard Schottman served in Korea in 1952 and 1953 after graduating from medical school in Chicago, working at three different mobile hospitals behind the front lines. Schulman, a radiologist, would scan injured soldiers to get a better sense of their injuries before they went into surgery.
“Most of the injuries we had were mortar injuries,” he said. “When I was there we were primarily fighting the Chinese. They of course couldn’t use artillery because we had air supremacy. But they were deadly with their mortars.”
Schottman served in World War II as well, and said the Korean conflict marked a major step forward in battlefield medicine.
“We had helicopter to bring the injured to us, so we saw our casualties within an hour or two, which was very different than World War II,” he said. “We also had plenty of blood [for transfusions] and penicillin, which was in short supply in World War II. The death rate was much lower.”
One of Schottman’s fellow physicians in the MASH units was Bobby Brown, a former New York Yankees third baseman who went on to get his medical degree from Tulane University after his playing days. Brown went on to become the president of the American League in 1984. He and Schottman stayed in touch, and when the Royals made the World Series in 1985, Brown helped Schottman and his family get tickets.
After the war, Schottman spent a year working at a hospital in Tokyo before his wife convinced him to take a job in Kansas City at St. Luke’s Health System. He spent 38 years at St. Luke’s before retiring. Today, Schottman and his wife — both 92 — live at Claridge Court in Prairie Village.