Medicine: Health Commandos

When slim Filipino Nurse Pet Duruin arrived in Viet Nam, the first Vietnamese words she learned were: "Mot ngay ba vien," meaning "one tablet three times a day." Nurse Duruin repeated this phrase as often as 200 times a day as she passed out quinine and sulfa pills from her own thin, bronzed hand to the equally bronzed but thinner hands of the wretched refugees streaming in from the Communist north. For this was October 1954, following the invasion debacle that ended with the surrender of Dienbienphu to the Reds.

As the flood of refugees reached its crest, and southern Viet...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!