U.S. At War: To the Nearest of Kin

The families of the 1,026 men killed at Tarawa knew what the statistics meant. To most of the U.S., the second figure was still just a figure: 2,557 wounded.

But Tarawa's wounded—like all the wounded from World War II—were coming home. Many would come home with missing arms, legs, eyes, faces. Blood plasma, sulfa drugs and plastic surgery would send many of them back alive but unrecognizable.

To prepare the U.S. for shocks, the Army's tough little Surgeon General Norman T. Kirk gave the nation some advice. Said he: the armed services do their best to salvage a battered body. But the harder...

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