On This Day In History February 16

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 16 is the 47th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 318 days remaining until the end of the year (319 in leap years).

On this day in 2006, the last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) is decommissioned by the United States Army. The Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) refers to a United States Army medical unit serving as a fully functional hospital in a combat area of operations. The units were first established in August 1945, and were deployed during the Korean War and later conflicts.

The MASH unit was conceived by Michael E. DeBakey and other surgical consultants as the “mobile army surgical hospital.” Col. Harry A. Ferguson, the executive officer of the Tokyo Army Hospital, also aided in the establishment of the MASH program. It was an alternative to the system of portable surgical hospitals, field hospitals, and general hospitals used during World War II. It was designed to get experienced personnel closer to the front, so that the wounded could be treated sooner and with greater success. Casualties were first treated at the point of injury through buddy aid, then routed through a battalion aid station for emergency stabilizing surgery, and finally routed to the MASH for the most extensive treatment. This proved to be highly successful; it was noted that during the Korean War, a seriously wounded soldier that made it to a MASH unit alive had a 97% chance of survival once he received treatment.

The MASH unit made its way into popular culture through the 1968 novel M*A*S*H by Richard Hooker, the 1970 feature film based on the novel, and the long-running television sitcom (1972-1983) based on the movie. A 1953 film, Battle Circus, also took place at a MASH.

MASH units continued to serve in various conflicts including the Vietnam War. In October 1990 the 5th MASH, 44th Medical Brigade, XVIIIth AirBorne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, deployed to Saudi Arabia and was the first fully functional Army Hospital in country. This unit moved forward six times, always as the first up hospital for the region. In March 1991 the 5th MASH was operationally attached to the 24th Infantry Division to provide forward surgical care (often right on the front battle lines) to the combat units that attacked the western flank of Iraqi Army. In March 1991, the 159th MASH of the Louisiana Army National Guard operated in Iraq in support of the 3rd Armored Division during Operation Desert Storm.

In 1997, the last MASH unit in South Korea was deactivated. A deactivating ceremony was held in South Korea, which was attended by several members of the cast of the M*A*S*H television series, including Larry Linville (who played Frank Burns), and David Ogden Stiers, (who played Charles Winchester). MASH units have since been replaced by the U.S. Army’s Combat Support Hospitals.

Worldwide, the last MASH unit was deactivated on October 16, 2006. The 212th MASH – based in Miesau Ammo Depot, Germany – was the first U.S. Army hospital established in Iraq in 2003, supporting coalition forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was the most decorated combat hospital in the U.S. Army, with 28 Campaign streamers on the organizational colors. The 212th MASH’s last deployment was to Pakistan to support the 2005 Kashmir earthquake relief operations. The U.S. State Department bought the MASH’s tents and medical equipment, owned by the DoD, and donated the entire hospital to the Pakistani military, a donation worth $4.5 million.

The 212th MASH’s unit sign now resides at the Army Medical Department’s Museum in San Antonio, Texas.


Out of necessity, the “4077th MASH” unit depicted in the television series was considerably smaller than many of the MASH units deployed by the United States in the Korean War. In the series, about four surgeons depicted as being assigned to the unit, the administrative staff consists of the C.O. and his assistant, and few soldiers were shown to be present. By comparison, the 8063rd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital had personnel including twelve nurses, eighty-nine enlisted soldiers of assorted medical and non-medical specialties, one Medical Service Corps (MSC) officer, one Warrant Officer and ten other commissioned officers of assorted specialties. On one occasion, the unit handled over 600 casualties in a 24 hour period.

 116 – Emperor Trajan sends laureatae to the Roman Senate at Rome on account of his victories and being conqueror of Parthia.

1249 – Andrew of Longjumeau is dispatched by Louis IX of France as his ambassador to meet with Mongol Khagan of the Mongol Empire.

1646 – Battle of Torrington, Devon – the last major battle of the first English Civil War.

1742 – Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington, becomes British Prime Minister.

1804 – First Barbary War: Stephen Decatur leads a raid to burn the pirate-held frigate USS Philadelphia.

1852 – Studebaker Brothers wagon company, precursor of the automobile manufacturer, is established.

1859 – The French Government passes a law to set the A-note above middle C to a frequency of 435 Hz, in an attempt to standardize the pitch.

1862 – American Civil War: General Ulysses S. Grant captures Fort Donelson, Tennessee.

1866 – Spencer Compton Cavendish, Marquess of Hartington becomes British Secretary of State for War.

1868 – In New York City the Jolly Corks organization is renamed the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

1899 – President of France Felix Faure dies in office.

1899 – Knattspyrnufelag Reykjavikur Iceland’s first football club is founded.

1918 – The Council of Lithuania unanimously adopts the Act of Independence, declaring Lithuania an independent state.

1923 – Howard Carter unseals the burial chamber of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

1934 – The Austrian Civil War ends with the defeat of the Social Democrats and the Republican Schutzbund.

1934 – Commission of Government is sworn in as form of direct rule for the Dominion of Newfoundland.

1936 – Elections bring the Popular Front to power in Spain.

1937 – Wallace H. Carothers receives a United States patent for nylon.

1940 – World War II: Altmark Incident: The German tanker Altmark is boarded by sailors from the British destroyer HMS Cossack. 299 British prisoners are freed.

1943 – World War II: Red Army troops re-enter Kharkov.

1945 – World War II: American forces land on Corregidor Island in the Philippines.

1957 – The “Toddlers’ Truce”, a controversial television close down between 6.00pm and 7.00pm is abolished in the United Kingdom.

1959 – Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba after dictator Fulgencio Batista was overthrown on January 1.

1960 – The U.S. Navy submarine USS Triton begins Operation Sandblast, setting sail from New London, Connecticut, to begin the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe.

1961 – Explorer program: Explorer 9 (S-56a) is launched.

1961 – The DuSable Museum of African American History is chartered.

1962 – Flooding in the coastal areas of West Germany kills 315 and destroys the homes of about 60,000 people.

1968 – In Haleyville, Alabama, the first 9-1-1 emergency telephone system goes into service.

1978 – The first computer bulletin board system is created (CBBS in Chicago, Illinois).

1983 – The Ash Wednesday bushfires in Victoria and South Australia kill 75.

1985 – Hezbollah is founded.

1986 – The Soviet liner MS Mikhail Lermontov runs aground in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand.

1987 – The trial of John Demjanjuk, accused of being a Nazi guard dubbed “Ivan the Terrible” in Treblinka extermination camp, starts in Jerusalem.

1991 РNicaraguan Contras leader Enrique Berm̼dez is assassinated in Managua.

1993 – Western Australia’s and Australia’s first female Premier, Carmen Lawrence, is voted out of office.

1998 – China Airlines Flight 676 crashes into a road and residential area near Chiang Kai-shek International Airport in Taiwan, killing all 196 aboard and six more on the ground.

1999 – In Uzbekistan, a bomb explodes and gunfire is heard at the government headquarters in an apparent assassination attempt against President Islom Karimov.

1999 – Across Europe, Kurdish rebels take over embassies and hold hostages after Turkey arrests one of their rebel leaders, Abdullah Ocalan.

2005 – The Kyoto Protocol comes into force, following its ratification by Russia.

2005 – The National Hockey League cancels the entire 2004-2005 regular season and playoffs, becoming the first major sports league in North America to do so over a labor dispute.

2006 – The last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) is decommissioned by the United States Army.

Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Abda of Edessa

         o Elias and companions

         o Gilbert of Sempringham

         o Juliana of Nicomedia(Catholic Church)

         o Onesimus

         o February 16 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Kim Jong-il’s Birthday (North Korea)

   * Restoration of Lithuania’s Statehood Day, celebrate the independence of Lithuania from Russia and Germany in 1918 (Lithuania)

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