MUSIC PLAYING ON THIS PAGE
by Jeff "Doc" Dentice
Medic - CuChi,Vietnam - 67/68
Military Nurses Story
Featured by Doc
From the VFW Military Woman Edition
Doc Dentice & Diane Carlson Evans (Founder of the Vietnam Womens Memorial)
"Best Friends Forever"
Doc & Diane worked together on many events leading to the
dedication of the Vietnam Womens Memorial in Wisconsin & Wash .D.C.
He supported Diane with the 1st edition of the Vietnam Womens Memorial, and the final memorial.
LIFE IN THE ARMY NURSE CORPS
Diane Carlson Evans at the opening ceremony for the parade commemorating the
25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial November 10th, 2007
We've had an extraordinary journey together since Vietnam.
265,000 women served around the world during the Vietnam Era. Some of us went to Vietnam.
All of us went when we were needed and where we were needed.
After Vietnam, we entered a minefield of challenges and were tested again. The wounds of Vietnam,
national and privatebecame another battle for us to face -
men and women, out of uniform, linked forever.
Ann Cunningham & Sarah Blum served together at the 12th Evac
Sarah L. Blum, ARNP is a decorated nurse Vietnam veteran who earned the Army Commendation Medal serving as
an operating room nurse at the 12th Evac Hospital Cu Chi, Vietnam during the height of the fighting in 1967.
Because Cu Chi sat on the edge of the Hobo Woods, where all the fighting took place in 1967, her hospital handled mass
casualties regularly and their operating room became the largest user of fresh blood in all of Vietnam
Back in the United States, Sarah received her brother soldiers of Vietnam with their wounds and amputations, cared for
them directly and saw how their physical wounds did not heal when their heads and hearts were deeply affected. She was
awarded the Certificate of Achievement for exemplary service as head nurse of the orthopedic ward at Madigan
Army Hospital in 1968, where she was also the assistant director of nursing on evening and night shift in 1970.
"10 Years of Honoring Women's Service to
WE NEED YOUR HELP
The Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation (formerly the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project)
is continuing its effort to educate the country about the vital services provided by over 265,000 women, military
and civilian, during the Vietnam war and to provide a network of healing and hope. Your donation, large or small,
will help ensure that an important chapter in America's history continues to be told.
Mail your tax-deductible donation to:
Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation, Inc.
1735 Connecticut Ave. NW, 3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20009
Toll Free 1.866.822.VWMF (8963)
Honor Of Women Patriots: KIA/POW/MIA Vietnam War
Women veterans are one of the fastest growing
segments of the veteran
population. There are approximately 1.7 million women veterans. They
comprise 6.5 percent of the total veteran population and 6 percent of
all veterans who use VA health care services. VA estimates that by 2010
women veterans will comprise 10 percent of veterans using VA health care services.
The Last Breath
WHERE AM I?…I am afraid
Your in the hospital…it's okay…I will stay right here for you
I don't hurt anymore but it is hard to breathe
I have given you something to take care of the pain
Promise me you will stay until I go
Don't worry…I am here just for you…you're my date tonight
Your hair looks like my moms when she pulls her
I bet she is very proud of you
You smell just like the lemon trees back home
I am Kathleen, my friends call me Kath
My name is Tom but the guys call me Sunshine cause I am from Florida
Kath, you're so beautiful
Thanks, you ain't so bad yourself, you got a girl back home
No one special, just friends, I am only 19
Kath…does it hurt to die? I am seeing a bright light…Kath I don't want to go
Tommy, it's wonderful where you are going
Tommy go in peace my friend
I am sure am glad I got to know you
That's it let it all out, I am here for you, helping you cross over
Close your eyes follow the light
I love you Tommy, you are my Sunshine
Kerry "Doc" Pardue
June 16, 2004
The All-American Girl
She came to Vietnam not to fight or warrior to be
but to serve a higher purpose across the sea.
She knew the hurt, the pain, the dying
Sharon came to heal them and to stop the crying.
With purpose in her steps, she made her rounds
To give hope to soldier and to turn his frown upside down.
Whether it be the boy from back home or the Viet Cong
She did her job with care--she knew this is where she belonged.
She was cut down in the middle of the night
A piece of flying metal took her life.
She died alone
So far from home.
Her life was taken from us
Sharon's presence we still miss.
Let us never forget that freedom has a cost
Sharon became our hero-our hearts are empty by her loss.
Sharon was the All-American girl
She was perfection in an imperfect world.
©Copyright 2001 by Kerry "Doc" Pardue
The Sharon Ann Lane Foundation
From the Wisconsin Veterans Museum
A group photograph of Nurses at Base 22 Hospital taken in France in 1917
Base Hospital 22 was formed from Milwaukee County Hospital personal.
During World War I, the entire
nation was mobilized for service. As in the Civil War and other previous
women answered the call by volunteering as nurses.
Helen Bulovsky was born in Madison
in 1895, of immigrant parents. She trained at Madison General Hospital,
and after her graduation in October
of 1917 practiced as a registered nurse. Bulovsky had a heart defect, which it seems she was aware of, at the point
of her enlistment in April 1918. She was assigned to Base Hospital 22.
The doctors became officers,
but nurses were not given military ranks at this time.
The staff was then supplemented with soldiers from regular Army sanitation units.
Aimee O'Keefe was born on a small
farm in St. Croix County in 1889. She trained as a nurse in St. Paul, Minnesota.
After being certified she
practiced in Los Angeles, California; Lewiston, Montana; and Seattle, Washington. O'Keefe was called to active duty in April, 1917. She was assigned
to Base Hospital 50, organized through the University of Washington Hospital.
As of the declaration of war
on April 16, 1917 the Army Nursing Corps consisted of a mere 235 regulars
and 165 reserve members.
By the end of the war, the ranks of the Nursing Corps would swell to 21,480. The U.S. Army made the decision to employ sanitary personnel
at a rate of 7.65%, lower than the recommended 10% of total troop strength. By these calculations, this number of nurses was adequate for an
army of 1,000,000 men. The U.S. drafted 4,000,000 men, creating a serious shortage of medical personnel
A page from the Base Hospital 22 scrapbook showing the nurses' daily lives. At the upper left, nurses indulge in some sweets.
At upper right, two nurses pose in the nurses office, where the scheduling and administration was done. At lower left, Nurse
Hoyt assists Dr. Senn in one of the wards. At lower right, nurses make the daily rounds, changing patients' dressings.
Some nurses died during service, usually of illnesses such as influenza. Nurse Florence Kimball died on
October 21st, 1918 and was buried in the military cemetery at Base Hospital 22. She was 24 years old.
The nurses enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at Base Hospital 22.
"Today a bunch got newspapers and they think the war will end in a couple of weeks. It certainly won't end any too soon to suit me."
– Helen Bulovsky in a letter to her parents, November 9th, 1918. The war ended on November 11th, 1918, a mere two days later.
A page from the Base Hospital 22 scrapbook, showing the nurses assembled and the trucks moving out when the unit departed for the U.S.
I wrote these about the women who served.
You have my permission to display them.
©Kerry "Doc" Pardue 2003
From one of your guys..
In the midst of the 60's
She found herself confused
She was challenged to come see and do her part
So instead of becoming a part of the problem
She became part of the solution instead
She came to make a difference
The odd thing about the Vietnam War
It makes no difference if your male or female
Soldier or civilian it impacts your soul
She bore the risks of combat
Same as you and me
She served us all with fidelity
Some will say she didn't serve
I will tell them that they are wrong
She is as much a Veteran -as us all
Emily, raised in Atlanta
With her charm and her grace
Became a Donut Dollie in a far away place
She became a beacon of light. she brought us hope
With her smile and round-eyes
She took us to another time and place - away from the war
She didn't carry a weapon
She came with fun and games - she did her part
More importantly she became a part of the soldiers heart
As I look back on memories of the past
I recall with a certain fondness
Her beauty with a southern voice
Thanks for doing your part
You are not forgotten
You became part of our heart
The gal from Georgia-our Donut Dolly
A soldier's friend indeed
WELCOME HOME EMILY-my sister.
WELCOME HOME indeed
©Kerry "Doc" Pardue 2003
WELCOME HOME MY SISTERS
(Written to honor the 10th anniversary of the Women's Memorial)
We are standing here behind the WALL on the other side of life. It has been a long time since we have seen you.
We are here today to say Thank you once again.
It is your time today that we stand here waving, cheering, and so proud that you came.
The time is short so some of us have been selected to say what we all feel.
Thank you for caring and loving us and most of all for just being there.
My name is Mike; I was a Marine, stepped on a
mine, during Operation Allenbrook. I lost both legs.
You were my nurse who told me I was going home.
You bathed me, kept me out of pain; you talked to me about beginning a new.
It was not easy but you gave me hope. Today, I just retired; I have thought of you often…
I don't even remember your name.
I remember your face… thank you for being there for me, giving me that hope.
My name is Roger; I was killed during a mortar
attack, in Plieku. You worked in graves registration.
You made sure all my personal effects made it home to my wife. I was there at night when you cried over all of us.
I know it is hard my sister. Thanks for the prayer for my family and me. Yes, God does care and He remembers you.
My name is Tan, I was a little child in Ban Me
Thout, and you cared for me and helped me. I have leprosy.
I was there when they took you away in the middle of the night. I missed your singing to me.
You were my missionary. My daughter has your name.
My name is Tony; my helicopter was shot down in
the Plain of Reeds. I was on your burn ward.
You were the Red Cross worker that wrote letters home for me.
I told you that I loved you and you said all the guys said that to you.
You don't understand I still do. It was love at first sight.
I didn't mean to die in my sleep. I miss your smile.
My name is Wayne; I was killed when our base camp
got over run at Bihn Phouc.
I remember the times when you came to play games with us. You were our Donut Dolly.
You took my mind off the war, you made me forget. I was from Indiana.
I told you that you reminded me of my girlfriend.
My name is Susan, I was a nurse on Operation Baby
lift and we are still caring for the Children.
Thank you for your help in getting the children out and caring for them.
I tried to save them; they took two little ones out of my arms who made it. I am forever thankful.
My name is Johnny, they called me "lucky" 'cause
you pointed to me to come dance with you on stage
of the Bob Hope Show in Dong Tam. Thanks Ann Margaret, thanks for letting me be your leading man.
I died during a firefight in the Delta with the Mobile Riverine Force. Thanks for the kiss on the cheek.
My name is Joe, and I am from Memphis. I rode
on your plane coming over to the Nam.
You told me it was okay to be scared and you were going to pray for all of us.
You took my last letter I wrote to my mom and mailed it for me. I remember your perfume and your beautiful green eyes.
I was killed by a mine that blew up my truck my first day.
My name is Sharon; I am from Ohio. I was a nurse
at the 312th Evac. Mom, it's okay.
I have missed you all. Thank you for helping build the Clinic in Vietnam.
The people are needy and they don't hate us.
I did the right thing and I am so proud of you. Daddy is here and he misses you so very much.
My name is Jimmy, I was a medic and taken as a
you were the unit clerk that typed up the letter telling my parents that I was
Missing In Action and told them that all that could be done was being done.
I died 12 years later in Laos. No medicine, there were others. I know you think of all of us
but just know; some of us are still alive and waiting to be found. Please keep searching.
My name is Stan and I flew Phatoms. I was
shot down over Hanoi.
You were the Air Traffic Controller who marked my location and sent in the teams to get me out.
But the NVA shot and killed me. It is not your fault—I took the risk… it was worth it.
Hello Dusty my name is David. I never got to tell
you thanks for being there for me. For holding
my hand and telling me I was going to be okay. Thanks for writing the letter to my mom;
she told me she so appreciated it when she got up here last year. Dusty… thank you for staying
with me when I passed over. It is so beautiful here. I will be there for you when it is your time to come.
I will call your name and I will hold your hand. I love you.
So our sisters, one and all, you all did a job
well done. Please be easy on yourselves.
Do you realized how many of us you saved, do you realize how many of us still have legs and
arms that should have been removed. You helped ease our pain. You took our minds off the war.
Do you realize that you are the best and we appreciate all that you did we love you so very much…
thank you, WELCOME HOME MY SISTERS.
©Copyright November 2, 2003 by Kerry "Doc" Pardue
755TH Medical Detachment, 170th Assault Helicopter Company, Pleiku, Vietnam
8th Medical Detachment, 155th Assault Helicopter Company, Ban Me Thout, Vietnam
HHC, Scouts, 2/47th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, Bihn Phouc, Vietnam
American Women Who Died in the Vietnam War(1959-1975)
|Unveiling of Vietnam Memorial, 1993 Smithsonian Institute|
American Women Who Died in the Vietnam War
"A Soldier's Sweetheart" based on O'Brien's novel, "The Things They
Carried" will be shown Nov 8 & 12 at 8:00 PM EST on Showtime.
PICTURE by Manoj Khiani!
This is a very powerful, but not well-known monument
to the women who served in the Vietnam War.
It's a nurse holding a dying soldier with a third person crying out.
Nobody says a word when they are looking at this monument.
CHINA BEACH' DANA DELANEY
Researchers Need Help from Female Vietnam Nurse Veterans
The "Vietnam Nurse Veteran Psycho-physiology Study"
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
is looking for female Vietnam nurse veterans to participate.
Little is known about the long-term consequences of
combat theater assignment on female military
personnel. Through anecdotal accounts and survey/
interview studies, researchers leave come to appreciate
the psychological stressors that were experienced by
women who served in Vietnam. About 50% of women
who served "in country" have reported some
symptoms of distress after coming home.
Research efforts so far have provided some basic
information but much more is needed in order
to understand the complex issues surrounding
combat theater assignment of female military
personnel. The purpose of this study is to expand
this knowledge base by exploring the biologic
responses of female Vietnam nurse veterans.
Although there is more than a decade of research
and numerous publications looking at psychobiological
consequences of combat on male theater veterans,
there are no published biologic trials with female
Vietnam theater veterans. Results of studies with
male veterans can not necessarily be applied to female
veterans. The new study will provide data that will
help researchers to better understand the similarities
and differences in the ways that females and males
respond to stressful experiences.
The study is being conducted with a national outreach
that is unique, and provides an opportunity to gather
a large enough data pool to provide important
information about female Vietnam veterans.
Interested female Vietnam nurse veterans will be
contacted for an initial screening which will be accom-
plished by telephone or mail. Qualified nurse veterans
will be invited to travel to the laboratory in New
England for further testing. Travel expenses will be
paid by the study.
In order to qualify for the study, a female must have
served in an active duty nurse assignment in the U.S.
Armed Forces during the Vietnam era in Vietnam,
Laos, Cambodia or in the surrounding waters or airspace
of these countries. Participation will include an in-
depth interview, and a physiological assessment
including heart rate, skin conductance, an EEG, and
To obtain more information about this study, contact
Meg Carson, R.N., Ph.D.
Vietnam Nurse Veteran Psychophysiology study
VA Research Service, 228 Maple St.
Manchester, NH 03103.
Dr. Carson may be reached by phone at (603)626-6588.*
The nurses worked six days a week, 12 hours a day.
When heavy casualties came in, everyone worked as
long as it took, until there were no soldiers left to fix
or save. The ANC nurses treated US GIs and Viet
Cong POWs, American and Vietnamese civilians,
women and children side by side.
In 1973, two months after the cease-fire was
declared, the last of the Army nurses left Vietnam.
Most bore no visible scars. For many, the marks left
on them were emotional and spiritual, good and bad.
Says former Army nurse, Diana Dwan Poole, "My
experience was both horrible and wonderful. Horrible
because of the destruction I saw to human lives...
Wonderful because of expansion of my heretofore
limited world. I learned at a very young age, of the
frailty of human life, and the... strength of the
human spirit... This knowledge has helped me
Though seven Army nurses(and 1 Air Force Nurse)
died in Vietnam, only one, Army Nurse Sharon Lane,
died as the result of enemy fire.
In February 1967,
24-year-old Judy Elbring arrived in Saigon. She
wanted to put her nursing skills to the test
and she wanted to serve her country.
"The day we arrived — oh God — it was hot, it was
sticky, it was smelly, it was dangerous, there were
things that were booby trapped ... Everything was
green, and dust, and fences, and wire, and noise ...
And I thought, what a fool I'd been ... This didn't
look like an adventure to me; this looked very
"I wasn't ready for seeing those kids with holes in
their heads ... and with brains coming out of their
heads and — and that they were going to die. I
wasn't prepared to look in a man's face and know
that he wasn't going to make it. I don't know that
there's any preparation for that."
In 1967, Liz Allen arrived in Vietnam with
her master's degree in psychiatric nursing. She
was a commissioned captain and assigned to
a base in Cu Chi with the 25th Infantry Division.
"All those soldiers belong to somebody ... They
belong to somebody. They got moms. They got
wives. They got kids. They got somebody that loves
them. I can decide to stay home. This is during the
draft; they can't make that decision. They have to
go. They're 19. They're 18."
"And it was absolutely the loneliest time of my life.
Because there is nobody to go to. Nobody to talk to
... and so you learn to keep your own counsel. You
get set apart."
"Women are warriors the same as men are warriors,
and what this country owes them, if 'owe' is the word,
is the same as we give any warrior. And that every
time we sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" ... and we
really get off on 'the rockets red glare, bombs
bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our
flag is still there' — that there are soldiers, both men
and women, that have given that assurance, and you
'owe' for that assurance. And if you don't want to pay
it, don't sing the song."
Diana Dwan Poole
Army Nurse Corps 66-71
Letterman Hosp, Presidio of San Francisco, 67-69
67th Evac Hosp, Qui Nhon, 69-70, 70-71
Diana Dwan Poole, 22 years old, was already a
two-year veteran when in 1969 she re-enlisted
for a tour in Vietnam.
"A woman came up to me and asked me, 'How in the
world did you keep your white uniforms clean over
there?' What white uniform? This is what I wore [she
grabs the lapels of her Army fatigues jacket] — same
thing the guys were wearing: jungle boots, you know
[she laughs] ... White uniforms!"
"And the idiots that ran the place put this POW on
my ward ... and in the bed next to him was the kid
that the POW had blown his legs off ... Put 'em right
next to each other. I had a fit. That kid is screaming,
'Why is he there; he's the one that did this to me!'
and he's right in the bed next to him. And that POW
kept spitting in my face ... and I got in the bed and I
tried to kill him. And that is very hard to admit [she
laughs nervously]. I had my hands around his throat
and I was str ... strang ... I was trying to kill him."
Kathy Splinter enrolled in the Women's Army
Corps after her junior year of nursing school.
She was assigned to the intensive care ward of
the evacuation hospital at Chu Lai
."We were all brand-new kids on the block ... doing
our best ... flying by the seat of our pants. When we
were on duty, acting as nurses, I really felt that we
were treated as queens or as angels, I mean, the
guys really respected us, I felt, and treated us well.
Step out of that role, and you were a piece of meat."
"And then, deathly, deathly quiet. Now we were all in
night clothes, and flack jackets, and helmets,
walking up to see the destruction of the unit. And it
was then that we heard Sharon [Lane] was dead.
When she died ... I was furious that she died.
Because she didn't hurt enough to die, because
death was really a release ... the pain. Death was
much more merciful than having to continue on. And
one of the quotes that was attributed to her after her
death was her admiration of the Vietnamese people.
And I remember when I heard that, saying, 'That's
because she hasn't been here long enough ... She
hasn't learned to hate.' And I can remember saying
that, and writing home, and saying that, and being
ashamed because I hated that much now, and yet
we put on these happy little faces as though we
didn't feel that way."
LADIES WHO DIED IN VIETNAM
2nd Lt. Carol Ann Elizabeth Drazba
Dec. 11, 1943 – Feb. 18, 1966
Carol Ann Drazba
was one of the first two women to die in Vietnam.
Described by family and friends as always adventurous, Carol joined the Army while in
her second year of nursing school.
After basic training she was assigned to Fort
Huachucha in Arizona, where she built her reputation as an excellent OR nurse.
As the Vietnam conflict escalated, the need for
nurses and physicians also grew. In 1965, Carol
volunteered for service in Vietnam.
She arrived in November 1965 and was attached to
the Third Field Hospital near Saigon.
After weeks of endless hours in surgery, Carol was
finally able to take off for a weekend of rest.
She never made it.
The helicopter that was taking her to her weekend
R&R crashed, killing Carol, 2nd Lt. Elizabeth Ann
Jones, another Army nurse, and five others.
2nd Lt. Elizabeth Ann Jones
Sept. 12, 1943 – Feb. 18, 1966
Even as a little girl growing up in South Carolina,
Elizabeth Ann Jones
wanted to be a nurse.
She graduated from the Medical
College of South Carolina School of Nursing in 1964,
and the following year joined the Army Nurse Corps.
She was an ICU nurse at Fort Jackson, S.C., before
she was assigned to the Third Field Hospital along
with Carol Ann Drazba.
She was engaged to be married to a soldier she'd
met "in country," Lt. Col. Charles M. Honour Jr., and
the wedding was to be in Vietnam. Her mother had
even sent her a wedding gown.
She died along with 2nd Lt. Drazba and five others
in a helicopter crash. The helicopter pilot was her fiancé.
1st Lt. Hedwig Diane Orlowski
April 13, 1944 – Nov. 30, 1967
Hedwig Diane Orlowski was a graduate of the Hurley
Medical Center School of Nursing in Flint, Mich.
She had been in Vietnam for nearly a year, assigned
to the 67th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon, when
she was temporarily transferred to Pleiku to assist
with the wounded.
She was returning to her permanent post in Qui
Nohn aboard a C-47 transport when it crashed,
killing all aboard...
Capt. Eleanor Grace Alexander
Sept. 18, 1940 – Nov. 30, 1967
Though no "flower child," Eleanor considered herself
a political activist
concerned with the conflict in Vietnam.
Six years as a surgical nurse in New
York City's Madison Hospital left her feeling restless.
In 1967, she joined the Army Nurse Corps and
asked to be assigned to Vietnam. She was stationed
at the 85th Field Evac Hospital at Qui Nhon.
She was on the same C-47 as 1st Lt. Hedwig Diane
Orlowski, returning from Pleiku, when it crashed.
Everyone aboard was killed.
The city of Riverside, N.J., named a park in honor of Eleanor, a native.
2nd Lt. Pamela Dorothy Donovan
March 25, 1942 – July 8, 1968
Pamela was born in Ireland, but grew up in Boston.
After graduating from nursing school in 1965, she stayed on at the
hospital, where she learned her profession until 1967.
In November of that year she joined the Army Nurse
Corps and was assigned to the 85th Field Evac
Hospital at Qui Nhon.
She was only there for three months when she became seriously ill and died.
A road leading to the St. Gabriel's Monastery in
Brighton, Mass., where her parents worked, was
named in her honor in 1969.
Lt. Col. Annie Ruth Graham
Nov. 7, 1916 – Aug. 14, 1968
Annie Graham had been a career Army nurse since graduating from
nursing school in 1942.
She served in Europe during World War II and left active duty in 1945, becoming a
reserve officer as she completed her Bachelor of
Science in Nursing degree at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
She returned to active duty in during the Korean
War, and in the following 13 years completed tours
in Europe, Africa and the United States.
In 1967, she was assigned as chief nurse, 91st Evac
Hospital in Tuy Hoa, Vietnam.
While on duty, she suffered a sudden internal
hemorrhage and was taken by air to Japan for
surgery. Never regaining consciousness, she died three days later.
1st Lt. Sharon Ann Lane
July 7, 1943 – June 8, 1969
Sharon Ann Lane was the only nursein Vietnam to die under enemy attack.
She was stationed at the 312th Evac
Hospital at Chui Lai. To the west and south were
American marine bases, which often came under enemy mortar fire.
On the morning of June 8, after coming off duty
from caring for Viet Cong prisoners, she returned to
her hut for a brief rest. A rocket, overshooting one
of the nearby Marine bases, struck a metal supply
shed next to her hut and exploded. Sharon died
instantly from flying shrapnel.
Though she joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1968,
she had been in Vietnam for only two months when
she was killed.
In her home of Stark County, Ohio, a statue of
Sharon was erected to honor the men and women
who served in Vietnam.
She was posthumously awarded the following medals:
the Purple Heart
the Bronze Star with a "V" for gallantry
the National Defense Service Medal
the Vietnam Service Medal
the National Order of Vietnam Medal
the (South) Vietnamese Gallantry Cross (withPalm) .
Capt. Mary Therese Klinker
Oct. 3, 1947 – April 9, 1975
Mary Klinker was the last nurse, and the only member of the Air Force
Nurse Corps, to be killed in Vietnam.
She entered the service just a year after graduating from nursing school and was
assigned to Travis Air Force Base in California. There
she worked with U.S. servicemen wounded in
Vietnam and released American POWs.
She was later assigned to the 10th Aeromedical Evac
out of Travis, where she cared for seriously wounded
soldiers as they were being flown from hospitals in
Vietnam to hospitals in Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii or the mainland.
While on assignment at Clarke Air Force base in the
Philippines, she volunteered for a humanitarian call
to airlift orphans out of Saigon as the city was falling to the North Vietnamese.
She and her medical crew were on the plane, a C-5,
with the infants and toddlers, when just after
take-off, an explosion ripped through the rear of the
fuselage. As the cabin lost pressure, the pilots tried
to turn back toward the airport, but the plane
crashed in a rice field two miles short of Saigon.
Mary was posthumously awarded the Airman's Medal
for Heroism and the Meritorious Service Medal.
A Brief Chronology of the Vietnam
Women's Memorial Project
— excerpted from "Celebration of Patriotism and
Courage," Vietnam Women's Memorial Project, Inc.
1983 – The idea for the Vietnam Women's Memorial
is conceived by Diane Carlson Evans, RN, who served
in Vietnam as an Army Nurse
1984 – To place the statue at the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Women's
Memorial Project is incorporated as a nonprofit
1985-1986 – Resolutions are passed at the national
conventions of major veteran organizations
supporting the efforts of the Vietnam Women's
1986 – First approval is obtained from the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial Fund, Inc.
1986-1987 – With the first approval hurdle cleared,
fund-raising and education efforts begin.
1987 (September) – Second approval is obtained.
The secretary of the interior approves the concept.
1987 (October) – A public hearing by the Fine Arts
Commission rejects the Women's Memorial proposal.
1987 (November) – The Senate and House submit
companion bills authorizing the Vietnam Women's
Memorial at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the
1988 (February to October) – The political process
drags on as House and Senate hearings over the
memorial air out the details of the project and
debate its ultimate fate.
1988 (November) – President Reagan signs the
Senate bill into law, authorizing the Vietnam
1989-1990 – Desirable locations for the memorial
are determined, and possible sites begin their
journey through the approval process.
1990 (August) – A national competition is launched
for the design of the memorial.
1990 (Veteran's Day) – Co-finalists and honorable
mentions are announced from the design
1991 – Glenna Goodacre of Santa Fe, N.M., an
honorable-mention winner, is selected by the
Vietnam Women's Memorial Project board of directors
to design the memorial.
1991 (Autumn) – Glenna Goodacre's design is
approved by the appropriate federal agencies.
1992 (November 12) – A plaque-unveiling ceremony
takes place at the site of the Vietnam Women's
1993 (July 29) – The groundbreaking ceremony for
the Vietnam Women's Memorial occurs.
1993 (August) – A 21-city whistle-stop tour of the
Vietnam Women's Memorial kicks off in Santa Fe,
N.M., en route to its final destination of Washington,
1993 (November) – The dedication of the Vietnam
Women's Memorial takes place.
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