17 February 2006

U.S. Donates Last MASH To Pakistan

U.S. Col. Angel Lugo, right, commandant of the 212 Mobile Surgical Army Hospital (MASH), gives an appreciation certificate to Pakistani doctors, Talat, second from left, and Arjumand, during a ceremony to handover of MASH set up for quake victims in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006. The U.S. Army said goodbye to its last MASH, handing over the green tents, emergency room and surgical tables to Pakistani doctors and nurses who had never seen the hit TV show that made the field hospital famous. (AP Photo/Roshan Mughal)

From an AP Story at Yahoo News

For the past four months, the 212th MASH — or Mobile Army Surgical Hospital — has been stationed in a mountain valley in northern Pakistan treating survivors of the Oct. 8 earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people.

The military decided to donate the MASH — worth $4.6 million — to Pakistan because the Army is switching to a new approach, called "combat support hospital." The new system is more flexible, with surgical squads that can go out into the field instead of waiting for patients to be flown in.

Surrounded by snow-covered peaks, the Army said farewell to the MASH in a brief, simple ceremony with a Pakistani army band in maroon jackets and gold-trimmed hats playing marching tunes — not "Suicide is Painless," the TV show's theme song.

"We are very proud of the MASH's service to the people of Pakistan and extremely happy the MASH will be continuing its mission in capable hands," said Army Col. Angel Lugo, MASH force commander.

Pakistan army surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Syed Afzal Ahmad, said that the local staff have been working closely with the Americans during the quake mission and were ready to take over the MASH unit, which first saw action in St. Mihiel, France, during World War I.

"We are very thankful to the U.S. government and will remain thankful forever," he said.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker said the MASH and other quake aid "caused tens of thousands of Pakistanis up in this area to change their view of America."


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