Military Women Served with Pride

 


have their own website . . .
 

"At least 1,200 female soldiers were stationed in Vietnam in various branches of the military as photojournalists, clerks, typists, intelligence officers, translators, flight controllers, even band leaders."  ~ Austin Bunn for Salon.com

There were also military medical personel who were not nurses, such as physical therapists, psychiatrists and doctors.

Unarmed and under fire: An oral history of female Vietnam vets - Austin Bunn gets it right for Salon Magazine

And, of course, I was a novelty being a female soldier with a diamond [for sergeant] on my arm. All the guys looked at me and said, "She's got a diamond, that means there are women coming!"

My first night they started hitting us with mortar rounds. The whole building shook. It was a horrible night. I just laid there. I was paralyzed. And I figured I wasn't going to make it out. There were four or five of us in the room. And they were saying don't worry about it -- the Vietnamese are bad shots. I thought, Yeah, right.

"Observing a fire in Vietnamese dwellings near her quarters, she hurried to the scene to provide assistance. Without regard for her personal safety and in great danger of serious injury or death from smoke, flames, and falling debris, she assisted in rescuing several adults and children from the burning structures. Without protective clothing or shoes she repeatedly entered the buildings to lead children that had reentered their homes to safety. She continued to assist the Vietnamese residents in removing personal property and livestock, although danger increased until fire-fighting equipment and personnel arrived. Specialist Five Offutt's heroic action reflects great credit on herself, the United States Army, and the United States mission in Vietnam."

"When it came time for the presentation, they pulled me aside and said they didn't give the (Soldier's Medal) to women," Offutt said. "I was naive and young. And I didn't think I was a hero anyway."

"'All of my children appeared healthy at birth and it wasn't until they were toddlers that something appeared wrong,' Offutt says. 

Justin was born with cancer of the kidney, Wilm's Tumor.  Kevin had ADHD, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, bone and teeth deformities, and fainting spells.  Kristin had Grand Mal Epilepsy."

One night we had a human mass attack on all four corners at Long Binh. We had mortar attacks that could have landed on our compound and killed all of us. Did we have anything to protect us? No, all we had was prayer. And I did a lot of that.

Apparently in 1968 military intelligence had gotten a document off a North Vietnamese that they were offering a $25,000 reward for a white American female. Our own government gave us life insurance which was worth only $10,000. We laughed about it, because, boy, we were worth more to the NV.

My first band was called "Phase 3," because there are four phases before you die. If you're out in the field, you're in phase 3. You're hanging on -- you may make it and you may not.

I asked myself why they weren't listening. I just came up recently with the reason they didn't believe me: They weren't prepared for me. They didn't know how to look beyond the WAC, black woman in military intelligence.

If a man had problems with me, I mostly ignored it. I tried not to take an abrasive approach to anything.

I really didn't think about Vietnam until much later in years. I just put it in the back of my mind. The only time I would mention Vietnam is when I was in uniform. And people would say, "How come you're wearing a Vietnam patch?"

We would go out on our off-time -- we would go to the NCO (non-commissioned officers club) and meet up.

I had three or four pieces of shrapnel in my leg, and some in my back. Not much, but if you're wounded at all from enemy fire, you can get a Purple Heart.

One time, I was coming downstairs into the hotel lobby to get my ride to work. We took machine gun fire and everybody hit the floor. We just got into the elevator and went up to the eighth floor, because we didn't have any weapons.

The military changed the rules real quick after that, changed the policy on single parents adopting kids while you're in the military. Now, you can't do it.

Vietnam Memories

Photos of female enlisted, staff and line officers on a website dedicated to those women.  Are you on their Sister Search list?

Volunteering For Risk: Black Military Women Overseas during the Wars in Korea and Vietnam - Dr. Judith Bellafaire, Curator WIMSA

"Many of the individual stories above come directly from the Register of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation."

Vietnam; WAC Strength; WAC Standards

Official Army report with photographs

Attitudes

" . . . we were lying flat on the ground, just really glad I'm a 32 no-cup, laying just as flat as I could get and that stuff's commin' in explodin' all over the place. That was the moment I realized `My God, I could get killed over here'. And I said to the Captain, `I don't understand this...aren't we behind the lines here?' and the Captain said, `Lady, this is Vietnam...there is no behind-the-lines here.'"

Vietnam: A Soldier's Story II, Women at War"  
Watch for rebroadcasts on "The Learning Channel"

"It is a wonderful film. One we can all be proud of and recommend to students, educators, and anyone who wants to learn and try to understand why we went, what we did, and why it mattered...and matters still."
~Ann Kelsey, Librarian with Special Services, Vietnam

Unfortunately "The Learning Channel" has removed the website associated with this show.

Miscellaneous Photos

Saigon, South Vietnam....Staff Sergeant Ermalinda Salazar, a woman Marine, has been nominated for the 1970 Unsung Heroine Award presented annually by the Ladies Auxillary to the veterans of foreign wars. Staff Sergeant Salazar, determined to help the children of the St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage in Vietnam in her off-duty hours, holds two of the youngsters. The first five enlisted women in the Air Force (WAF) and the fourth WAF officer to be assigned to Vietnam arrive at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam. The women (left to Right) are: Lt Col June H. Hilton, A1C Carol J. Hornick, A1C Rita M. Pitcock, SSgt Barbara J. Snavely, A1C Shirley J. Brown, and A1C Eva M. Nordstrom.

Aida Nancy Sanchez, Physical Therapist

"For the 38-year-old physical therapist, it would be her most unique tour of duty."

"Major Sanchez's first office was a storage room; her door key, a kitchen knife; her desk a wooden board; and her first equipment, a makeshift whirlpool housed in a latrine. During her 18 months in Vietnam, she built a physical therapy clinic and, besides treating wounded Americans and South Vietnamese, traveled to Cambodia to treat Prime Minister Lon Nol."

 

Incountry Women (ICW) ICW: an email discussion group for women who served in Vietnam. Coffee Cup

 

Bullet Women in Vietnam Bullet Many Women Served Bullet Red Cross
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Do you know someone in the service?

See www.BlueStarGardenFlags.com

My Vietnam Related Websites:
Women in Vietnam ~ Read about ALL the women who served . . .
The Irish on the Wall ~ An effort to locate the Irish who died in Vietnam
Tim O'Brien's Home Page ~ National Book Award Winner and Americal Vet
Emily's Poetry ~ By a Red Cross Donut Dolly
All About Vietnam    ~ An annotated bibliography of books about Vietnam for sale thru Amazon Worldwide!
Photos from a Holts' Military History Tour ~ My trip to Vietnam, February 1998

My Other Websites:
Maybe Later . . . ~ My Creative Nonfiction
Irish in Korea ~ Irish men and women who gave their lives in the Korean War
Literature of the Korean War ~ Don't let the literature be forgotten
Samuel Pepys ~ One of my favorite authors
Chicago Theatre Z - A ~ This is the best theater town in the country!
Soccer Literature ~ I'm a fan and I read
O'Leary Lantern ~ Fire! Fire! Fire!
Gil Thorp ~ THE Coach (apologies to The General!)
Poetry of the First World War ~ Owen, Hardy and others
Chi-COW-go ~ Cowz plus Commentary (this used to be a cow town)
Graham Fulton, Scottish Poet ~ Charles Manson Auditions for the Monkees

Other Important Websites:
The Truth About Caroline ~ a  really good Young Adult book by my niece, Stacey M. Lane Grosh
Remember Oklahoma City ~  The Civil Service and Military will NEVER forget!
Milton L. Olive III ~ Posthumous Medal of Honor Recipient
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Page last updated July 18, 2007

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