On March 15, 1965, large shipments of troops arrived in South Vietnam. These troops occupied the country until 1973. During this time, many men fought and died for the United States of America. The numerous nurses that operated on thousands of soldiers are often forgotten. The soldiers that the nurses operated on were usually blown apart and crippled for life. The nurses worked diligently to save these men. Even by working hard to save these men they were not recognized as army personnel by the public. The Vietnamese citizens and even the male American soldiers looked down upon the nurses. The United States did not acknowledge the nurses that served in the Vietnam War until 1993. The nurses that served in the Vietnam War, although commonly unrecognized, served as bravely as their soldier counterparts, and some suffered much of the same mental and physical distress.
The nurses were not considered actual army personal. They were bothered by the Vietnamese street peddlers. In one incident, as a nurse was walking home, two boys asked for money. The nurses said “no”, as was army policy, and kept on walking. The boys then smeared black shoe polish on her dress, legs, and shoes (Smith 59). These same boys would not even consider harassing a male officer, for fear of being put in prison or even killed. Acts such as these were common because he nurses were not able to defend themselves. The nurses were sometimes treated sometimes treated similarly by male soldiers. One example took place when a nurse was walking to the hospital for her
shift. “My uniform was a joke, thanks to the driver who though that it would be funny to splash me with his jeep” (Smith 161). The soldiers would seldom do this to the other men in the armed forces for fear of being punished. The men did not worry about being punished when doing things to the nurses, knowing that they would never suffer any c...
Devanter, Lynda Van. Home Before Morning, The Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam.
New York: Beaufort Books, Inc., 1983.
Evans, Diane. “They Also Served” People 31 May 1993 P90.
Marshall, Kathryn. In The Combat Zone, An Oral history of American Women in
Vietnam. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1987.
Smith, Winnie. American Daughter Gone to War, On the Front Lines withan Army Nurse in Vietnam. New York: William, Morrow, and Company, Inc., 1992.