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"It saved many, many lives. We don't know how many, but we know it did save a lot of lives, because if you can't get blood, you're going to die." (Audio Interview, 26:14)

   Vance D. Funkhouser
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War: Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Air Force
Unit: 3rd Air Rescue Squadron
Service Location: Korea
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Vance Funkhouser's aptitude for mechanical devices served him well in the Air Force during the Korean War. With helicopters being used for the first time to transport wounded to MASH units, there was a need for the critically wounded to receive blood plasma in transit. Because the litters were strapped outside the body of the aircraft, Funkhouser came up with a device that snapped on to the litters, giving injured GIs valuable in-flight treatment and earning him a Bronze Star. Funkhouser enjoyed the democratic camaraderie in his rescue squadron, where officers didn't pull rank on the enlisted men.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (30 min.)
 Official Documents
»View List (2 items)
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»Helicopters: The Multi-Mission Aircraft
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
After basic training, going to aviation mechanics school; working in air rescue near the front lines to pick up the wounded and take them to MASH units; picking up many downed pilots; his was among the most decorated units in Korea; not authorized to be in Korea; asking to go to Japan to get tools to work on helicopters; on request, developing device to carry blood plasma on litters attached to helicopters; his design won him the Bronze Star; working long hours to ensure that all aircraft were available. (06:03) Dealing with stress; hearing story of guerrilla fighters sneaking into a tent and stabbing everyone, which didn't help him sleep. (01:12) Rank didn't seem to matter in his unit; didn't wear stripes; everyone went by his first name; like a big family; working on a project to balance rotors. (01:58)
When his service ended, not wanting to come out; his father persuading him to return to civilian life; still regrets not making the Air Force a career. (00:24) Further detail on the blood plasma device; hand-made without tools; had to make two for every helicopter they had; explanation of how the device worked; it saved many lives. (02:06) 
 Official Documents (2 items)
Honorable discharge Award of Bronze Star medal 

Home » Vance D. Funkhouser
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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