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Combat Support in Korea

Combat Support in Korea

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Published by Bob Andrepont

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Feb 09, 2011
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Major Peter M. Margetis, Dental Surgeon, 24th Infantry Divi-
sion. (Interview by Lt. Martin Blumenson, 3d Historical De-

The division dental surgeon has authority to distribute his den-
tal officers as he wishes. Each division is authorized 18 dentists, but in
January 1951 the 24th Division had only 15—enough for combat, but


not enough for garrison duty. When Major Peter M. Margetis arrived at
the 24th Medical Battalion, all of the 24th Division’s dentists were on
duty at a central clinic except one at division rear and another at the
advanced clearing station.
Major Margetis saw no advantage in keeping the dentists central-
ized away from the troops. A man needing dental treatment might have
to spend a whole day traveling from his unit to the dental clinic. Under
this system of distribution, only one thousand dental operations (fillings,
extractions, and prosthetic work) were performed each month.
Major Margetis distributed the dental officers one to each regi-
ment, division headquarters forward, division headquarters rear; two
each to the replacement company and division artillery; and three each
to the clearing company and the medical battalion (including the divi-
sion dental surgeon).

Each dental officer has an enlisted assistant and a No. 60 dental chest.
The chest is only slightly larger than a foot locker, but it contains a
folding dental chair, electric motor, instruments, lights, trays, and medi-
cations. Mobility is no problem and definitive dental treatment can be

Although it had been the practice to send all impaction cases to
rear medical installations (usually the 8076th MASH), Major Margetis
insisted that all such work be done by the division’s dental officers. Only
four patients were evacuated as dental cases (gunshot wounds are con-
sidered medical cases) in six months.
As a result of the new distribution of dental officers, dental opera-
tions increased from 1,000 to 8,000 a month. More dental work has been
accomplished and less time has been lost by soldiers seeking dental work.

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