Movies and books have often glorified the exploits of large military units such as General George S. Patton Jr.’s Third Army or the Big Red One. More people can tell you what division Audie Murphy served in than can tell you in what company he served.
Often overshadowed are the true service achievements of company-size units in the American military. The real service stories—of soldiers’ dedication, fellowship, anxiety, stress, boredom, excitement, risk, and sacrifice—often remain in the hearts and minds of those who served in these small units.
One such unit was the 916th Medical Ambulance Company, based in Middlesboro, Kentucky, which operated within the National Guard system from 1947 to 1959.
The real story remains in the hearts and minds of those who served in these small units. I found it impossible to compile a complete roster of the company. The best I could do at this late date is this brief description of the 916th, Middlesboro, Kentucky’s first experience with a National Guard unit.
Someone once said “The strongest and the most lasting friendships are those formed in the first season of our lives when we are more susceptible to warm and affectionate impressions.” This was a recurring thought as I assembled this material.
The story of the 916th was gathered largely from documented sources. I did not rely on memory because of the long span of time since the 916th came into existence. That was sixty years ago. I would like to express my thanks to the following individuals that have worked with me to bring this history together. Mr. Thomas Stephens of the Kentucky Historical Society for his editorial assistance with this manuscript. Mr. Jason LeMay of the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs for his efforts in getting this history published. The staff at Military Records and Research Branch, Kentucky Department of Military Affairs for assistance over the past few years in researching information and records of the 916th. Finally, Mr. John M. Trowbridge, Command Historian of the Kentucky National Guard for his efforts over the past couple years in researching, and assistance putting together this history of the 916th.
If it is true that we are what we read, I encourage you go back sixty years. Imagine what a small Kentucky town was like and spend a few minutes with the 916th Medical Ambulance Company ... when we were young.
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