With the intentional downing of Korean Air flight 007 by a Soviet Su-15 interceptor and the consequential threat increase on the Korean peninsula, combat readiness for the U.S. Second Infantry Division Warriors, deployed on the most militarized border in the world, assumed paramount importance. That forever infamous act of typical Soviet brutality, in fact, placed the United States and the Soviet Union on the very precipice of nuclear war, as recently declassified documents have revealed. (See NATO Operation Able Archer.)
With nearly 100 tactical nuclear weapons deployed on the 38th parallel and the DEFCON 2 designation on the Korean peninsula, CPT Daw was selected for assignment as one of four division dental surgeons assigned to, at that time, the only combat deployed medical battalion in the Army - the Second Medical Battalion, Second Infantry Division, U.S. Forces, Korea. CPT Daw recognized this assignment was going to be much different than his previous CONUS and European assignments, as a gas mask was to be part of his TA-50 gear. Further, this protection from neurotoxins must always be at hand, twenty-four seven. Immediately after his assignment to Camp Casey, headquarters for the combat arm of the U.S. Eighth Army, CPT Daw tested for and was awarded the Expert Field Medical Badge. His battalion commander then designated him as the clearing platoon leader for the medical battalion's Bravo company. As such, CPT Daw's responsibilities would include tactical as well as clinical duties. Given map coordinates in the early stages of frequent drills, CPT Daw would deploy the assets of his company toward the overall configuration for that exercise.
The increased force structure required on the Korean peninsula, especially that of combat and special forces personnel, strained the ability of dental officers to maintain their combat readiness via dental examinations and necessary treatment in order to maintain the division's deployability, as required by Army regulations. The loss of combat hours as a consequence of oral and dental pain during the Vietnam conflict revealed to military planners the need for a robust dental health program in order to enhance the deployable status of the field commander's soldiers. The Dental Readiness Program (DRP) was developed for fixed facilities as well as for implementation in field deployments of FORSCOM units. Conventional back-haul operations, utilizing ground transportation to place field dental teams in remote areas along the DMZ, were time consuming and sometimes difficult with the severe winters encountered in the mountains.
With the increasing numbers of special forces and air traffic controllers deployed on the mountaintops, dental resources were stretched, despite the coordinated efforts of the four division dental surgeons and several other dental officers stationed at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, headquarters for Eighth Army. CPT Daw was attached to the Tenth Medical Detachment, 18th MEDCOM, in Yongsan in order to boost the field deployment capabilities of dental personnel there. Ironically, although no gas mask was necessary in Seoul, student protests against U.S. presence in their capital necessitated frequent disbursement of the protestors with CS gas. On a number of occasions CPT Daw would have to dismiss patients due to the eye irritant.
Dr. Daw again considers himself blessed that his immediate rater in Yongsan was Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Blainey, a West Point commissioned Airborne Ranger endodontist. He tasked CPT Daw to find a way to substantially improve the delivery of tactical dental teams in the new threat environment. Toward that end, CPT Daw, coordinating with special forces and air assets from K-16 airbase, utilized Black Hawk helicopters to insert and extract dental teams in the mountainous regions along the DMZ. The success of the mission earned CPT Daw recognition as the first dental officer to utilize airmobile assets for the delivery of dental care to remote sites in the Republic of Korea. He developed standard operating procedures for continuance of these missions after his departure from Korea.
While stationed at Yongsan, CPT Daw received an alert in the wake of the tragic loss of over two hundred 101st Airborne soldiers in the Arrow Air Flight 1285R crash the morning of Thursday, 12 December 1985. These elite soldiers were going home for Christmas after a Sinai rotation as part of an international peacekeeping force in the middle east. This tragedy was worsened by the fact the soldiers were hand-carrying their medical records, a common practice when changing duty stations, especially for FORSCOM units. As a consequence, dental identifications proved to be more complex as dental records, including panoramic radiographs, were destroyed in the crash. From that point on, duplicate panoramic radiographs were required before the soldier could out-process from his duty station's dental clinic.
This is another illustration of the dangers resulting from the casual attitude when negotiating with contract air providers. Dr. Daw remembers conversations with CPT Al Kuhre, a fellow dental officer in Yongsan, who had recently been assigned to Korea after an ITT (intertheater transfer) from the Sinai. There were standing bets on how many takeoff attempts their Arrow Air flight would take before getting airborne. This was a reflection of how lowering transport costs trumped the safety of our blood and treasure; it was cheaper to pay a civilian carrier rather than the utilization of a C-141 Starlifter. As a congressional investigation revealed, powers to be doomed these heroes by calculating the average weight of the soldier, including his TA-50 gear, to be 165 pounds. This is absurd and lead to overweight on this flight and, coupled with icing on the wings, resulted in the worst air disaster in Canadian history and the loss of hundreds of the finest fighting soldiers in the world. With only 1% of the country having served, it is easy to see how such little concern exists for our military. Guns and butter...
CPT Daw's additional duties included that of radiation protection officer, monitoring ionizing radiation exposure to dental personnel, and motor officer, responsible for the maintenance of a fleet of vehicles as well as ensuring proper electrical distribution during tactical deployments. As range officer, CPT Daw was responsible for conducting range fires in order to maintain weapons qualification for dental personnel stationed at Yongsan Garrison. Shortly before his departure from the Republic of Korea, CPT Daw, as part of an outreach program with the Joint United States Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG), provided assistance to Biochemistry PhD candidates at Seoul University with the Korean / English translation of their doctoral theses. In further support of JUSMAG, CPT Daw was selected by the Holt Children's Agency to provide military escort for five infants during their flight from Seoul to their adoptive parents in Boston.
After completion of his tour in Korea and satisfaction of his military obligation, Dr. Daw returned to his family in Chattanooga. Deploying to Korea when his young son, Kris, was only a year old, Dr. Daw was looking forward to being a dad again for his now three year old. Private practice accorded Dr. Daw an opportunity to be part of an outstanding collection of dentists who have consistently reflected well on the profession. Dr. Daw was pleased to find a well established program for provision of dental care through various ministries in the city. Dr. Bill Roy, whose altruism and tireless efforts in the establishment of the Mercy Dental Clinic are well known, made Dr. Daw aware of the Inner City Ministries; Johnny O'Neal's zeal in providing hope and leadership for kids spurred Dr. Daw to lend his efforts in their faith based dental clinic. Speaking of zeal, Dr. Daw remembers well the zealous attack of front court in order to place a nice z-shot by Dr. Roy at the Sports Barn. He was further impressed when Johnny Hennen pointed out he was dominating in his age division in local racquetball tournaments. Dr. Daw encountered another remarkable member of the Chattanooga dental community when he joined a dental professional
staff at Chattanooga State. Karen Castleberry, with her stimulating dental assisting program, has produced quality dental assistants that are such an integral part of the dental team. With several of Mrs. Castleberry's students having rotated through Dr. Daw's office over the years, he has had the opportunity to perform a number of procedures attendant to general dentistry with them and, without exception, they have been knowledgeable from both clinical and didactic standpoints.
Academic excellence found at Big Ridge Elementary and the lure of beautiful Hixson, which had only been a fond memory since Dr. Daw's graduation from UTC, guided him to locate his general dental practice north of the river. The birth of Dr. Daw's daughter, Kara, heralded the opening of his office on Northpoint Boulevard. Dr. Daw was blessed with a second son, Dylan, four years later.