Givhan narrowly survived combat wound in Vietnam

Published 12:15 am Friday, November 11, 2016

Andalusia’s John Givhan, a foremr first lieutenant in the U. S. Army and Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient, spoke at yesterday’s Veterans Day assembly at the junior high school.

1111-givhanGivhan was wounded in combat in the Ca Mau peninsula near Kien Long in South Vietnam, with his right leg being dismembered by a new form of missile from the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam conflict.

During his speech, Givhan quoted from the song “On Eagles Wings.”

The song says that, “He will raise you up on eagle’s wings; bear you on the breath of dawn, make you shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of his hand.”

Givhan likened his survival to God raising him up on eagles’ wings, except it was the rotary blade of a helicopter.

Givhan said God definitely held him in the palm of his hand.

He was flown more than 150 miles to a hospital in Saigon, which is present-day Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Givhan gave credit to Maj. Charles Kelley, a helicopter pilot who flew his evacuation helicopter.

He also had by his side Capt. James Ralph, who was a flight surgeon.

Givhan said that his tourniquet and clamp was placed on him, but Ralph decided he should accompany him on the journey to Saigon.

Ralph found that blood was pouring and that the clamp wasn’t doing its job and the tourniquet wasn’t placed right.

Givhan said that he was nearly out of blood, but Ralph took the stance that he treats and God heals.

To save Givhan’s life, he took a big wad of gauze and stuffed it into his exit wound.

Givhan said he may have been the first to be hit by the new weaponry the North Vietnamese army had received.

Getting to Saigon also proved difficult, as Givhan needed a lot of oxygen and flying at a higher altitude was not possible.

The enemy was firing shots at them, as well, he said.

“We spent the entire mission hugging the ground,” he said. “We were hopping over trees and power lines for the best oxygen.”

The Lord provided more hands to save his life, a Navy nurse named Bobbie, who volunteered to go to Vietnam and open a hospital.

Recently Givhan and Bobbie both were awarded the DAR Distinguished Citizen Medal from their respective chapters – a first in each chapter.

Givhan said he’s “living proof that having trusted in the Lord, he held me in the palm of his hand.”