JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The 47th Combat Support Hospital re-designated the unit as the 147th Field Hospital and activated the 29th Hospital Center during a ceremony at Watkins Field here, Sept. 10, 2021.
The event marked the culmination of efforts beginning prior to 2010 to update the design for the combat support hospitals based on the lessons learned from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This ceremony marks the closure of one chapter and the initiation of another for the storied 47th CSH as it becomes the 147th Field Hospital,” said the ceremony’s host, Col. Y.R. Summons, the 62nd Medical Brigade commander. “The activation of the 29th Hospital Center and the conversion to the 147th Field Hospital are important milestones for the Army and the Pacific. They give the (U.S. Army Pacific) commander a scalable capability to support forces in the most consequential theater during the most consequential time as we deter the most consequential threat to the US.”
In July 2014, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army approved the updated design for all active duty and U.S. Army Reserve combat support hospitals. The new design scales the hospitals to a scalable into a more modern unit structure, meeting the demands of large-scale combat operations in a multi-domain environment, and providing combatant commanders with maximum flexibility and responsiveness while increasing selective surgical and emergency medicine capabilities and specialties.
“Throughout its history, the 47th CSH has an incredible legacy of service and excellence providing world class healthcare on the battlefield supporting our warfighters,” said Col. Nelson So, the 47th CSH commander. “This will not change. I have no doubt the next evolution of this great unit will continue this tradition.”
Lt. Col. Melissa Gue and Master Sgt. David Rodriguez, unfurled the colors of the re-designated organization and assumed their positions as the unit’s first command team.
“The opportunity to command the 147th Field Hospital is an absolute honor and a privilege,” Gue said. “I am excited to train with our Soldiers to ensure our unit is ready to support our forces in the Pacific and wherever else we are called upon.”
The 47th CSH was originally constituted as the 47th Surgical Hospital Dec. 21, 1928, and was later re-designated as the 47th Portable Surgical Hospital when it was deployed to support American and British Forces in the China-Burmese theater during World War II. Following the war, it was deactivated until it’s reactivation as the 47th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital and deployment supporting United Nation’s Forces in Defense of the Republic of Korea and continued supporting peace keeping operations until 1957.
Following a period of inactivation, the unit reactivated at Fort Lewis Jan. 10, 1968, and would later reorganize as a combat support hospital in May 1973. The 47th CSH supported the XVIII Airborne Corps during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, as the most forward deployed hospital in theater.
The CSH executed two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during 2005 and 2009. In 2011, the organization supported Operation New Dawn as the last combat support hospital in theater, supporting the reduction of forces and conclusion of American military operations in Iraq. The 47th CSH most recently deployed in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, where it supported coalition forces combating ISIS.
In addition to the conversion of the CSH, the ceremony included the standing up of the 29th Hospital Center.
“As the only Hospital Center and Field Hospital assigned to the (U.S. Indo-Pacific Command), we have an important role in supporting our Nation’s efforts…,” So said. “When USARPAC calls on maneuver forces in the Pacific, we want their next call to be to the 29th Hospital Center and the 147th Field Hospital.”
Hospital Centers were initially used during World War I and were designed to command and control up to ten hospitals and subordinate units. In this era, the centers are designed to provide command and control for up to two geographically dispersed field hospitals, with up to 248 beds, and other subordinate units.
In the following weeks, the 29th Hospital Center and the 147th Field Hospital will field new medical equipment and thereafter execute field training to exercise the new unit and equipment. The units will prepare for a validation exercise next spring, in addition to supporting exercises and contingencies in the USINDOPACOM area of operations.