Ray Gauvin was born in 1946 and Dr. Darrell Lane was born in 1937. Gauvin grew up in Presque Isle, Maine, in a mix of French-Canadian and American culture, while Dr. Lane was raised in central Pennsylvania. As young men, both enjoyed being outdoors and were Boy Scouts. Dr. Lane graduated from Franklin & Marshall college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, before medical school at Temple University. He commissioned in 1962 and became a doctor in 1964 after a pathology residency at Beaumont Army Medical Center. Ray Gauvin attended the University of New Brunswick, but lacking money to remain in college and having a low draft number, he enlisted in October 1966. He was interested in the medical field and trained as an X-Ray technician, completing a 26 week-long course. Dr. Lane deployed to Vietnam in June 1968, and as a forensic pathologist, he volunteered for the WDMET (Wound Data and Munitions Effectiveness Team). Ray Gauvin was assigned to the 13th Field Hospital when he received orders for Vietnam. When he arrived at Tan Son Nhut, he expected to be sent to a hospital, but was instead sent to the WDMET. The WDMET had a secret mission. They were tasked with evaluating wounded Soldiers and performing autopsies on deceased American Soldiers to determine the cause of death, with the goal of offering insights to increase force protection and survivability for the Soldiers in the field. The mission was classified because leaders at the highest level did not want Americans to know that Soldiers who had been killed were being analyzed, even though the purpose was to save Soldiers’ lives. Work in the WDMET varied from inactivity to pandemonium, and the team had to work very quickly when casualties were brought in. It was an extremely stressful job, leaving team members with survivor’s guilt. After the war, Dr. Lane remained in the Army until 1972, when he left as a Major but remained in the medical field as a civilian. Ray Gauvin left after his term of service, graduated from college as an accountant, and opened an accounting business, Automated Payroll Service. When he retired, he created a scholarship endowment for first generation college students in his area. Years later, in an effort to come to terms with his Vietnam experiences, Ray decided to write a book (A Soldier’s Heart: The Three Wars Of Vietnam), and sought to reconnect with members of the WDMET. He found Dr. Lane through a Christmas card Lane had sent to Ray’s mother while they were in Vietnam, to let her know that Ray was doing well and was being taken care of. Years later, when Ray’s mother passed away, the decades-old card made its way to Ray, and using the signature on the card, which included Lane’s middle initial, he was able to narrow down his search and find his old comrade.
In this interview, Ray Gauvin and Dr. Lane both share stories of their childhoods and provide different perspectives on their service together in Vietnam. Ray explains that taking x-rays of dead Soldiers was harder than doing so with living Soldiers. Dr. Lane discusses conducting autopsies. They were prohibited from examining enemy dead, but they were able to determine the effectiveness of US weapons because many had been obtained and used by the enemy against American Soldiers. They share stories of unique instances, including discussing a Soldier who had been mauled by a tiger. Later, Dr. Lane was called as a witness (forensic pathologist) at the Calley court martial. At the end of the interview, they share what their service means to them.