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John Hollenhorst ReportingAn exhibit opened in Salt Lake City today honoring some heroes of World War II. But these are a bit different from the usual run of war heroes -- they went into combat, not to kill, but to save lives.
They call it "The Legacy of Heroes." It's not a big or fancy exhibit, but it tells a compelling story through the words of the people who lived it. In printed text and on film, it's the story of medics and doctors, struggling to keep people alive in the meat-grinder of war.
Exhibit Film, Voice of Combat Medic: "But you had a job to be done and it had to be done. And so you just did it in spite of the fact that death was just a few feet away."
War is always Hell, but American casualty figures for World War II were especially appalling.
Dr. Dennis H. Gordon, President, Utah Orthopedic Society: "We had 700,000 injuries, young men that were treated for open fractures, limb extremities."
Othopedic Surgeons organized this exhibit to honor 60,000 doctors and tens of thousands of others who had to deal with horrendous injuries. Nurses, enlisted medics, litter carriers, who practiced medicine in the heat of battle surrounded by the screams of wounded men.
Exhibti Film, Voice of Combat Medic: "It was so hard to keep your mind on what you were doing. You pretended that it meant nothing to you. You pretended that you didn't hear them at all."
Dr. Jim Fowler, Salt Lake Surgeon: "You were operating very near the front. You might have your hospital or aid station being bombed while you were trying to take care of wounded. So these men and women did a great job."
It was nasty, brutal, horrifying work, but something good did come from it. Many lives were saved and it left a legacy for modern medicine.
Dr. Dennis H. Gordon, President, Utah Orthopedic Society: "It was really a turning point for the treatment of trauma."
Penicillin was introduced in World War II. There were big advances in the treatment of burns and traumatic injuries, big strides in artificial limbs, developments that still benefit us today.
Dr. Jim Fowler, Salt Lake Surgeon: "all of that came about and started because of the massive numbers of injuries in World War II."
Dr. Fowler says the exhibit also recognizes another contribution of the medics in World War II, the preservation of freedoms we still enjoy today.
The Legacy of Heroes exhibit will be on display at the City & County building until October 8th.