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  1. Sarah, Army Nurse in Vietnam | Women Under Fire
  2. The Sydney Morning Herald
  3. Lt Bobbie Foote/Mershon, U.S. Army Nurse, 93rd Evac Hospital, Bien Hoa, South Vietnam

They were specially labeled and handled the good old government way. I remember this nurse came in and she was scheduled to take the place of another nurse. When she saw me, I went to greet her and I had this leg under my arm. She collapsed on the ground in a dead faint. I thought, "What could possibly be wrong with her?

And I had no idea this might bother her. The conditions were pretty much what I expected - but not the bulk, the quantity of the wounded. In Phoenix [Arizona, hospital emergency room], we were used to seeing one or two come in at a time. Now you were talking 50 or 60 at a time, with a wide variety of traumatic wounds. I had seen traumatic amputations of extremities from cotton picking combines in Arizona. So that was not a horrendous sight for me, as it was for some others. The bulk. You had these helicopters land and there could be casualties with various stages of injuries.

Some of them might not have been as serious as others. It depended on the season. In Tet of '69 we were getting patients coming in a day.

I worked mainly in the emergency room and triage area. That's where you do life-saving procedures before sending them into the operating room. I literally picked them up off the helicopter or the ambulances, and brought them into the emergency room, and stabilized them as best I could before the operating room. The expectant category, that was the hardest. We are taught, trained, and socially groomed as nurses that every life is important. Your job as a nurse is to try to save human life to whatever extent possible.

So when casualties were coming in fast and furious, and someone came in with such extensive injuries. That was hard. Usually the nurses would have to sort out the wounded with a physician at hand.

Angels of War: A Vietnam Nurse

Some physicians were doing procedures to the patients, while still others were preparing for casualties in the operating room. But we always managed to keep them comfortable as far as medications were concerned. We assigned a corpsman to each expectant so they wouldn't be by themselves.

That was a hang-up on my part. I didn't like the idea of their being by themselves at that time. And whether they knew anyone was there or not, I always made sure someone was. At least there would be another human being. If they were in the expectant category, most often they could not communicate with anybody.

Usually the only ones you put in expectant were the ones who had massive, open chest wounds with so much blood and body fluid lost that they were unconscious anyway. Or they had massive head injuries. Anything else, they went to the operating room and the surgeons there tried, to the best of their ability, to help them pull through.

Although the expectants generally were comatose, one would occasionally grab your hand. You could never know with those folks whether they could hear you or not. The worst of the other non-expectant ones were the traumatic amputations of legs or other limbs. These had suffered tremendous blood loss, but there was always a wait for donor-specific transfusions. It took 45 minutes or so before they could have the blood typed and crossed and have it ready by the time they were taken into the OR.

So most were transfused with O-negative before the crossmatch was complete. There was a tremendous blood loss, tremendous fluid loss, and there was some concern as to whether they'd make it or not. When I think back to individual cases I saw coming through there, I'm very much aware of this one young man. Ours was like the dropping off point, we had the major air field at Qui Nhon. Men were coming up to go to the 1st Division or the rd Infantry. So they were arriving and their units came down to pick them up. There was one young man, he was very small and blonde.

And it was obvious he hadn't shaved yet, because he was probably of Scandinavian origin; but he was very short and very blonde and I kept thinking how awfully young he looked. He'd stopped me to ask directions to the Red Cross, because he wanted to call his mother back in the states and tell her that he had just arrived. So his unit came and picked him up and three days later he came back into the emergency room with both his legs blown off.

He was awake and he remembered me. I called him by name, his name was Mark. I still remember that. He just looked up at me and put his arms around my neck and pulled me down saying, "Please don't let me die. It was particularly difficult because he happened to be one of a large number coming into the emergency room. There were about coming in at the same time.


Sarah, Army Nurse in Vietnam | Women Under Fire

I told him, "We'll certainly do our level best," and I stayed with him. Although I was head nurse of the emergency room, I did my best to stay with him until he went to the operating room. His right leg was six inches from the hip, the left was four inches above the knee. There was no part left. Both legs had been totally obliterated. The medic in the field had medicated him, so he was conscious and reasonably comfortable until you moved him. Then the pain became exaggerated.

He was semi - conscious and his vital signs were weak. The medic had put IVs in both arms which kept him from bleeding to death. Fortunately, he did survive the surgery and made it back to the states. And I understand, from the best I was able to keep up, that he did fairly well. Now how he managed as far as adjusting to life was concerned, I don't know. But he survived. He spent about two hours there in the emergency room talking to me while waiting for the jeep to come down and pick him up. He was drafted right out of high school.

He had been an exceptional student in school, and had intended to go to medical school after he finished his commitment. He was going to go to the University of Michigan--he was from Grand Rapids--and go to medical school afterward. This was his goal in life. Who knows, maybe he would have been the individual who found the cure for some disease that is giving us so much of a problem.

Some died in the field, and we never saw those. They brought them back in body bags to Qui Nhon. We'd have them brought to us with the tags on them. It was an eerie thing to see a name you recognized in a big, black body bag. We had dozens more who came in with all sorts of injuries.

One had wounds to the chest, we put chest tubes in him. He also survived. One came in, he had a massive face injury. They looked for reassurance and peace. She said the patients called them angels. A lot of good happened. She says this tumultuous time made her stronger. Many returning veterans came home quietly. Society did not seem to want to acknowledge that young men and women had been there.

Others simply did not want to discuss their service. I never told any civilian I was in the Army. She stayed in the Reserves, serving once again during Desert Storm. She retired in with 26 years of service behind her. I learned to think outside the box at a very young age. I learned survival skills, how to improvise, the list is long.

And I am grateful.

The Sydney Morning Herald

It brought men and women together to face loss and begin a process of healing. Eight women are inscribed in black granite alongside their brothers on The Wall. Thank you! Veterans Day, These angels, women who risked their lives to selflessly give all they had to comfort and heal, are forever memorialized and honored on The National Mall in Washington, D. Once bringing peace and comfort to the suffering, they now bring solace to one another.

Through their words and tears, their healing continues. Today, they hold each other close and lift themselves up. Their service is immeasurable and we thank them. Parts of this blog was contributed to by Scattered Memories, written by Lt. Janis A. Thank you from a Vietnam combat vet of the 25th Infantry Division and the st Airborne Division. You were and remain our angels. Thank you for your dedication and your service. Your sacrifices of emotion are every bit as valuable as the physical care you provided and certainly more difficult. Wonderful article, thank you.

Serving in the military changed my life in so many ways. Your description of conditions we all endured rings very true. Thank you and all the nurses there for your service. Thank you Fred for posting and Janis for sharing your story about your feelings and great care for our wounded Vietnam Service Members.

We, as soldiers, can never thank you enough for all that you did under extremely difficult conditions…God Bless. Thank you so much. Our nurse-corps were remarkable and brave, all volunteers. Without you, I could not have done my job. I am the lucky one…I married the fabulous 1st Lt. Jeannie Mitchell who was the best OR nurse I have ever worked with, before or since. I noticed that Janis had been a theatre major at one time. Reiman served as ICN's executive secretary until , and spent the rest of her years in this world living a much simpler life at her farm in Syracuse, Italy.

And on , Christiane Reimann faced death at the age of Thomas Hospital, in London, Sofia Sophie Mannerheim utilized her gained nursing knowledge and skills in her own country, Finland. Before journeying into the world or nursing, though, Sophie first worked as a bank employee for 6 years, and got into an 8-year long marriage in Mannerheim's divorce gave her the opportunity to enter Nightingale's school.

When back in Finland, she was given the responsibility of a head nurse of Helsinki Surgical Hospital. Later on, she became president of the Finnish Nurses Association, which she handled for 24 years. Her success in the nursing field extended to the international community when she was elected president of the International Council of Nurses or ICN. Sofia Mannerheim, a baroness who came from a noble family and sister to former Finnish President Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, died on September 1, Cavell, a British nurse was matron of the Brussel's Berkendael Institute, which was then converted into Red Cross hospital, when Central member country Germany invaded Belgium.

Her duty was to care for patients, regardless of their nationality, not looking into whether they were from the Central or Allied Forces. But her patriotism, which became more evident in carrying on her duty led to her apparent death. During her trial, Edith Cavell admitted of helping soldiers, whom she thought were still capable of reuniting with the Allied forces to fight.

Wounded Allied soldiers were treated and helped escape to the neutral Holland, along with other non-wounded men. Only a tattered postcard sent as sign of gratitude by a British soldier, and her confession, served as evidence against Cavell. At the dawn of October 12, , Edith Cavell, still in her nursing uniform, and an aide named Philippe Baucg were executed through firing squad at the outskirts of Brussels for treason. The death of Nurse Edith Cavell awakened patriotism among members of the Allied forces. Instead of becoming weak, recruitment of Allied soldiers doubled in just a matter of 2 months.

The First Trained American Female Nurse to Malinda Anne Judson Richards, America's first trained female nurse was moved to enter the nursing profession due to the death of her parents from tuberculosis. Although she already got informal training from her mother's physician, Richards pursued teaching. It was only after the death of her fianc from the Civil War that she finally decided to become nurse, and worked at the Boston City Hospital. After serving barely as maid in the hospital, Richards signed-up for a nurse-training program at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, and graduated in The New York City gave Richards opportunity to prove her worth in the profession, being able to develop the system of keeping records of each patient at the Bellevue Hospital.

Significantly, her concept was widely integrated in the U. Thomas Hospital where she later on furthered her nurse training. In , Richards came to be the superintendent of Boston Training School who turned the then dying nurse-training program into one of America's best, with all the nursing knowledge that she brought with her when she came back in After 9 years, Richards had gone off to Japan where she opened Japan's first nurses training school in Kyoto during her 5-year missionary service there. At the age of 51, Linda Richards went back to the U.

In , Richards was also able to establish training school at the Philadelphia Methodist Episcopal Hospital and reorganized the nursing training program in the New England Hospital for Women and Children in to Further, Richards was the first stockholder in the American Journal of nursing. Her nursing and teaching career ended on her retirement on In April 16, , at the age of 88, Linda Richards died. The male nurse to Being male was not a dream for Sarah Emma Edmondson, but a life she had to live since childhood to escape mistreatment from her father and to be able to serve her adopted country, the United States of America.

Emma left New Brunswick, her homeland, to flee her abusive father who wanted a son, not a daughter. She was in New England, when she answered the call for Union enlisters. Franklin Thompson began serving at the hospital unit of the 2nd Michigan Volunteers on April 25, Emma had no problem maintaining masculine masquerade since she's been doing it almost all her life already. But with the death of James Vesey, a friend back in Canada, on patrol, and the need of intelligence agent for McClellan changed Emma's life forever.

She volunteered and impressed the staff with all the things she gained knowledge of by herself about weaponry, tactics, local geography and military personalities. Even without any military experience, Frank Emma got the position as spy of the Union Army. Emma crossed the enemy lines as a black man named Cuff, with her skin tainted with silver nitrate and head with a black minstrel wig.

She also spied as a mammy, complete with dark color and bandanna. Emma also became Charles Mayberry, a young man, to identify Southern spy network. These and all 11 missions as spy, Frank Thompson succeeded. But malaria forced her off the camp to keep her identity from being revealed while seeking treatment. However, after recovery from a hospital in Cairo, Illinois, when she was again ready to carry on her duty as Frank Thompson, the Union Army has declared her male identity as a deserter. There were no more secret missions for Frank Thompson, so she went back to Washington and worked as a nurse until the end of the Civil War.

Abby Auclair, U.S. Army Nurse #VietnamStoriesPBS

Sarah Emma Edmondson a. Private Frank Thompson shared her adventures and experiences in her book, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army, which became best selling. She headed home to Canada and became Mrs. Emma Seelye. Emma petitioned to clear her name from being a deserter in the Civil War, and on July 5, , granted honorable discharge from the army, along with monthly veteran's pension. Emma Edmonds Frank, died honorably on September 5, Founder of the Army Nurse Corps to Known as the American Florence Nightingale, Anna Caroline Maxwell bravely cared for wounded men, improved sanitary conditions of military hospitals, and trained nurses for care during the Spanish-American War.

Her intelligence and experience from years in the nursing profession equipped Maxwell for the enormous task during this chaotic time. Five years later, she assumed leadership of the Boston Training School for Nurses, and in shared her knowledge to the students at St. Luke's Hospital. Maxwell's academic success reached the New York City, when she developed a nursing program for the area's Presbyterian Hospital. She remained 30 years with the school, presiding over its partnership with Teachers College, which is now known as the Columbia University. There, she was able to develop 5-year nursing diploma as well as a Bachelor of Science Degree.

When the Spanish-American War broke, Maxwell's nursing mastery became an extremely reliable arm against deaths caused not by combat but by communicable diseases. Even amid typhoid, malaria, and measles epidemic among a thousand soldiers, only 67 lives were lost under Maxwell's supervision.

With the persistence of Maxwell, the congress finally recognized the value of nurses in the military, resulting to the establishment of the Army Nurse Corps in , and by , nurses were also given military rank. Her WWI service also gained her recognition from the French government. Maxwell resigned from the nursing service in , and died in Ruby Bradley of the Army Nurse Corps was the most highly decorated army nurse, receiving 34 medals and citations of bravery for her military service during the Japanese and Korean War, on World War II.

Service Medal, and Florence Nightingale Medal. Bradley began her service in the Army Nurse Corps as surgical Nurse in Her risky service followed on , while assigned at Camp John Hay, Philippines. Only three weeks after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Bradley was captured, and tended to fellow captives after being moved to Santo Tomas Interment Camp on , in Manila.

There, she and several other nurses were given the name Angels in Fatigues for feeding starving children and risking their lives in smuggling surgical equipments into the POW camp so as to provide medical aid. The U. Army liberated Bradley and the rest of the captives from the Japanese three years later, and then, she headed back home to West Virginia. However, military service has not yet ended in the Philippines for Bradley. She went back to the battlefield as chief nurse of the st Evacuation Hospital during the Korean War only after 5 years.

In , Bradley became chief nurse for the Eight Army, shouldered the responsibility of supervising Army Nurses all over Korea, wherein she had to face near-death situations while ensuring the sick and wounded were safe. Ruby Bradley managed to escape , Chinese soldiers holding guns on her back, and ambulance exploding right after she's gone off it. Bradley's military service lasted three decades, and retired in Her life ended on May 28, due to heart attack, but her courage and valor remain.

World War I Combat Nursing to The battlefield that has become many brave soldiers' grave also led Helen Fairchild to her final destination. But compared to those soldiers who were there to fight and kill, she was in the battlefield with the primary mission of saving lives. Fairchild was one of the 64 nurses who left Pennsylvania Hospital with the American Expeditionary Force to France, in As a front-line combat nurse, young Helen was exposed to mustard gas, which was used against the Allied Forced during a heavy shelling.

Mustard gas has the ability to mimic the effects of chloroform on the stomach. This worsened the abdominal pain that she already had even before leaving the U. After every meal, Helen vomited. She was later on diagnosed with large gastric ulcer that obstructed her pylorus. Doctors recommended gastro-enterostomy operation on the 13th of January Fairchild's operation seemed successful, but became jaundiced on the 3rd day.

Her condition rapidly deteriorated, she fell into coma, and died on January 18, Nurse Helen Fairchild's short-lived combat nursing carrier endured through history, serving as inspiration to nurses in the military. However, while in the nursing service, Alcott contracted typhoid pneumonia and forced to go back home to regain good health. She suffered permanent health damage because of the fever and of the calomel dose or mercurous chloride, causing recovery to become long and gradual. Alcott's nursing career was not as bold as that of other Civil War heroic nurses to be able to be lined among the famous nurses list.

However, her experience as nurse, which she wrote in her book Hospital Sketches, published in , made her extremely popular. Moods and Scenes from Dickens were also published, the latter completed to benefit the Sanitary Commission. Alcott became well known through her literary pieces, published more than 30 different books and collections of stories. On March 6, , Louisa May Alcott passed away. Before she treaded the risky life of a combat nurse, she was equipped with knowledge of nursing school in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Lt Bobbie Foote/Mershon, U.S. Army Nurse, 93rd Evac Hospital, Bien Hoa, South Vietnam

After graduation, Evans readily joined the Army Nurse Corps. At 21, she was sent to the Vietnam War and served there for 1 year. Diane Carlson Evans fought for the honor of the women who bravely battled side by side with male soldiers in Vietnam War era. It took 7 years of lobbying before the congress, convincing the legislators to recognize the immense value of 11, military women to Vietnam and the , others in service during the war. In November 11, , the Vietnam Women's Memorial was dedicated. Many American Veterans continue to support the foundation, wherein Evans still actively serves as president.

The President's Wife to Mary Anne Todd Lincoln, Former President Abraham Lincoln's wife, was better known as a well-educated aristocrat with great interest in politics, which actually helped Abraham to the presidential office.