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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    the President s death listened to news analysis shared the grief and bravery of a family and saw the funeral cortege wind through Washington DC In her office and at home LT Jo Oberg watched these events unfold In shock and disbelief she served as the platoon commander of Navy women in the only women s company in the funeral procession from the US Capitol to the White House St

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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    in April 1917 the German High Command and the Allies used five kinds of poisonous gases More than 30 percent or 70 552 of the Americans wounded in World War I were gas casualties Gas warfare pushed the development of protective masks from Great Britain s initial use of a piece of cloth tied over the face to those with more sophisticated construction and chemical absorbents One Salvation Army worker recalled that her crew in the Meuse Argonne cooked 2 000 donuts for the men at the front even after sneezing gas forced them to don their gas masks But most of the effects of gas warfare were far more serious than sneezing attacks Gases blistered exposed flesh and caused rapid or worse gradual asphyxiation One nurse described how her patients were blinded fighting for breath feeling their throats closing and knowing they would choke to death The horrors of World War I gas warfare increased precautions during World War II Members of the Women s Army Corps WACs trained in the use of gas masks in simulation chambers sat through basic military courses on Defense Against Chemical Attack and some studied gas identification in Officer Candidate School Overseas military

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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    evening news Americans saw military women in the Persian Gulf transporting troops and supplies A woman led a company of Chinook helicopters into Iraq on the first day of the ground war Women served aboard Navy hospital ships and support ships They commanded a variety of units from graves registration detachments to battalion sized material management centers Repairing a truck in the desert Briefing then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell Others drove trucks established communications systems dug bunkers flew tankers refueled bombers and fighters in midair launched Patriot missiles and endured enemy attack They guarded POWs and lived with worked with and commanded male soldiers Women proved they were able to work beside men and get the job done reported one Army Reserve major The operations established new frontiers for women in combat even though federal law prohibited women from serving in direct combat and barred Navy and Air Force women from combat ships and aircraft A Black Hawk helicopter pilot and executive officer of a lift battalion in her quarters Aboard the USS Acadia When the troops of Desert Storm began coming home there were celebrations fanfare yellow ribbons and an appreciative flag waving public

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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    Island N Y which was their mobilization center Had a wonderful send off The morale was excellent All the nurses behaved splendidly A fairly large crowd had collected at the station to see us depart we were given flowers fruit etc A special car was engaged for us On the way to New York we passed a long train of khaki clad raw recruits We flocked to the windows there was wild cheering waving exchanging of salutes For two months she remained at Ellis Island NY waiting transport to France Finally on April 22 she sailed aboard the Leviathan a German ship interned in New York Harbor and subsequently converted to an American troop transport vessel The ironclad Leviathan was the largest ship afloat 16 stories tall and capable of transporting 20 000 troops quartered top to bottom from staterooms to below deck steerage We have abandon ship drill several times each day on our deck All the nurses between 4 500 line up in two long rows in their life belts march out on deck two by two to the life boat to which they have been assigned Each boat holds 29 people including the sailor boys who row Elizabeth arrived in France in early May and proceeded to the abandoned Parc Hotel in Chateau Guyon where the nurses and orderlies turned the hotel into a functioning hospital On June 1 1918 she volunteered for temporary duty at Basoilles to treat the wounded 15 miles from the front lines On our ride from Paris to Basoilles we passed thru Chaumont headquarters of the American Army We passed ammunition troop trains also Red Cross trains returning from the front with the wounded There were many French refugees on the train with bundles tied up in gaudy colored materials Old gnarled bent men women with their most treasured possessions in their hands We met many poor little children The stations were filled with refugees One had a goat another a dog another carried a rooster under her arm The train was filled with French officers in their fine uniforms While in Basoilles she worked on the gas wards treating victims of chlorine phosgene and mustard gas each causing different symptoms and requiring different treatment If the wind came in a certain direction we could hear the roar of the big guns We were in constant danger of gas attack always slept with our gas masks at the head of our bed Nurses at the hospital had suffered intense hardships the preceding winter suffering intensely from the cold They had chilblains frozen feet Many of them were ill with the flu One of them died Miss Maria Bowles from scarlet fever Returning to the Parc Hotel Chattel Guyon Elizabeth treated patients who arrived in waves by Red Cross trains Each train seldom carried fewer than 300 cases She reported the numbers and types of wounded and described medical treatment that the nurses provided Sept 6 299 patients from base hosp around Toul

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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    echelon of the force and filled critical warfighting positions It was not surprising that women were among the first servicemembers to deploy in America s response to the attacks the Global War on Terror Communication with friends and family was different from previous wars when members of the military relied on snail mail and rare phone calls to keep in touch In the War on Terror internet e mail and

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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    exhibit that was sponsored by The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and was formerly on display at the Women s Memorial located at the gateway to Arlington National

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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    easy to use guide When you visit the state education benefits section of the Web site http education military com money for school state veteran benefits click on one of the 10 geographic regions represented on the US map Once on the region page select your state to review the information Because benefit information changes from time to time veterans are encouraged to contact their state veterans administrations for the

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  • Women In Military Service For America Memorial
    were higher there than in beauty parlors and grocery stores 29 Frequently however when a woman worked in a man s job she was paid far less than a man would be This was another extremely significant point of contention among feminists determined to change the system and with it women s economic status 30 Women who volunteered to serve their country during the war in Vietnam were products of this new philosophy Although servicewomen s job assignments were distinctly limited women and men of the same rank be they officer or enlisted were paid the same This well known perk drew many ambitious goal oriented women into the service These women expected challenging assignments and wanted to be allowed to contribute to the best of their abilities Many women volunteered to serve in the theater of war because that was where they believed they were needed The military which had been one of the first sectors of society to officially end racial segregation had a harder time accommodating the expectations of servicewomen Although they were not legally prohibited from assigning women to Vietnam deeply imbedded cultural beliefs bolstered the military s reluctance to send women to the battle theater Furthermore ever since 1948 the services had trained women for a limited number of administrative type jobs which were accomplished behind desks at headquarters not in the field As supervisors women officers were in most cases limited to supervising other women Overall these restrictions limited the number of assignments to Vietnam available to servicewomen and had an adverse impact on servicewomen s morale 31 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 Vietnam June 1967 The women left to right are Lt Col June H Hilton A1Cs Carol J Hornick and Rita M Pitcock SSgt Barbara J Snavely and A1Cs Shirley J Brown and Eva M Nordstrom National Archives 342B VN 143 103323 When the war in Vietnam started the maximum number of women in each service was still limited by law to 2 percent Most military women served as nurses secretaries or clerks Very few women other than nurses held supervisory positions It was very difficult for women who were not nurses to get an assignment to Vietnam Ironically at the same time many young men resisted the draft because they did not want to go to Vietnam military women both black and white viewed assignment to Southeast Asia as a privilege Members of the WAC and women in the Navy Air Force and Marine Corps pressured their chains of command for assignments to Vietnam with little success One African American Air Force lieutenant colonel who had completed a highly classified counterintelligence course in preparation for assignment to Vietnam saw her orders abruptly cancelled Initially she was uncertain whether her rejection was based on her race or her gender She eventually learned that her race had nothing to do with the decision to hold her back It was simply that her superiors were uncomfortable with the idea of sending a woman to Vietnam 32 USA CWO3 Doris Allen served as a senior intelligence analyst in Vietnam from 1967 70 Courtesy Doris Allen Sister Soldiers During the Vietnam War approximately 700 WACs served in theater and as many as 75 of them were African American 33 One of whom was WAC CW3 Doris Lucki Allen Early in her military career she asked for a transfer out of a dead end job in public relations at Ft Monmouth NJ and went to the Army Language School in California because it was the only place they would send me CW3Allen had encountered a typical problem women faced in the workplace during the 1960s She was good at her job so her supervisors did not want to lose her however they did not want to promote her either Had I gone out with my boss she said later I might have been promoted But because she spoke a foreign language Spanish and the Army needed linguists she was able to devise an escape route that did not compromise her dignity Allen left the Army Language School with a working knowledge of French trained in military intelligence and ultimately ended up in Vietnam stationed at Long Binh from 1967 70 She recalled As a senior intelligence analyst in Vietnam I was recognized for having been responsible through production of one specific intelligence report for saving the lives of at least 101 U S Marines fighting in Quang Tri Province In an interview she said that she initially had difficulty getting her chain of command to take her report seriously If she had not been persistent and pushed her report forward it would have been buried 34 Intelligence as long as it could be conducted behind a desk appears to be one of areas to which women were routinely assigned This is not surprising when one considers that the vast majority of intelligence work entails sifting methodically through large amounts of data where success demands patience and persistence Army WO Ann M McDonough assigned to the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam worked as a polygraph examiner She wrote I used my polygraph training to assist the South Vietnamese in their investigation of suspected double agents 35 WAC Director COL Elizabeth Hoisington meets cadre members of the WAC Detachment Vietnam October 1967 Left to right SP4 Rhynell M Stoabs SFC Betty J Benson acting 1st sergeant COL Hoisington CPT Ready SSG Edith L Efferson and PFC Patricia C Pewitt US Army Photo The Tet Offensive of 1968 a surprise attack on US forces in South Vietnam coordinated by Vietnamese communist guerilla fighters and the North Vietnamese Army was one of the most dangerous time periods to be in Vietnam Army SSG Edith Efferson was stationed at Long Binh as a supply sergeant during the Offensive The ammunition depot at Long Binh approximately 27 miles northeast of Saigon was a primary target of the enemy who attacked regularly with mortars WACs on duty in the orderly room hit the floor frequently during the months of January and February to avoid the shattering glass flying gravel and other debris kicked up by the explosions SSG Efferson s calm demeanor throughout this difficult period helped the younger women in the office deal with their own concerns WAC Director COL Elizabeth Hoisington later congratulated SSG Efferson her commanding officer and the rest of the women at Long Binh for keeping cool heads throughout the Offensive 36 Another Army woman SPC Grendel Alice Howard arrived in Vietnam in January 1968 in the middle of the Offensive She was assigned to 1st Logistical Command Headquarters at Long Binh as the administrative assistant to the Non Commissioned Officer In Charge One aspect of her job involved traveling to subordinate units interviewing soldiers and writing stories about them for publication By the end of SPC Howard s extended 34 month tour she had been promoted to sergeant first class She was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for her work in Vietnam and ended her military career as a sergeant major 37 Army nurses 93rd Evacuation Hospital Long Binh Vietnam 1968 B J Greenway Rasmussen Collection Women s Memorial Foundation Nurses Needed Although it was difficult for many military women to gain an assignment to Vietnam the services almost always sent those medical personnel who volunteered to go because they were so desperately needed One of these volunteers was Army nurse MAJ Monica Crossdale Palmer MAJ Crossdale Palmer served at the 85th Evacuation Hospital at Quin How during the military buildup in Vietnam in 1965 and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal When her 12 month assignment ended she extended for an additional six months and was transferred to the 17th Field Hospital in Saigon In March 1967 MAJ Crossdale Palmer returned to the United States and was assigned to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Washington DC where she served 18 months in the operating room before she volunteered to return to Vietnam During her second tour of duty she served as operating room supervisor of the 45th Surgical Hospital at Tay Rinh seven miles from the Cambodian border 38 Marie L Rodgers joined the USA NC in 1952 and retired as a colonel in 1978 In December 1967 she received the Bronze Star for distinguished service in connection with group operations against a hostile force in Vietnam between October 1966 and September 1967 Women s Memorial Register Another Army nurse who volunteered to serve in Vietnam was MAJ Marie L Rodgers who received the Bronze Star from President Johnson in a White House ceremony in December 1967 MAJ Rodgers a 15 year veteran rendered distinguished service in connection with group operations against a hostile force in Vietnam from October 1966 to September 1967 She was the operating room supervisor in the 24th Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh 39 In her words I got the Bronze Star because of how smooth ly my unit ran Rodgers volunteered to go to Vietnam because she knew she was a good operating room nurse and wanted to have the opportunity to contribute her skills where they were most needed She also wanted to challenge herself The hospital at Long Binh was very busy operating room personnel routinely handled all types of wounds including head and face wounds Rodgers noticed little racial prejudice in Vietnam She said The Army system of promotion really helped In other situations as a black nurse I wouldn t have gotten the kind of jobs I had In the Army they always had to give you the job you trained for and with that the rank Rodgers said There were not a lot of black nurses Most times I was the only black nurse I never worked with a black doctor or a black surgeon I never even had a black nurse on my staff The reason for this of course was that African Americans had only just begun to break through the educational and professional barriers that had prevented them from obtaining degrees in medicine As commissioned officers in the military African Americans in theory competed on an equal footing with whites The problem was obtaining the necessary degrees to qualify for a commission Rodgers added I think I was blessed I guess I was competent I was always able to get the job done Rodger s career in the Army Nurse Corps spanned 25 years and she retired as a colonel 40 In her official history of the Army Nurse Corps COL Mary Sarnecky said that the Nurse Corps did make deliberate attempts to recruit more minority nurses during the Vietnam Era When the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing was established at the University of Maryland in 1965 for example administrators encouraged African American enrollments but struggled with a high attrition rate among minority students because the less than optimal caliber of their secondary education had not provided them with the tools necessary for success in a competitive academic environment 41 By 1972 there were no minority students at the school so two African American nurses both majors were assigned to travel around the country interviewing interested applicants and eventually brought 10 African American students to the school seven of whom ultimately graduated 42 The Army tried to assign CPT Elizabeth Allen to the Institute of Nursing in 1967 The Nurse Corps had very few officers with advanced degrees and CPT Allen had master s degrees in psychiatric nursing and business administration She also had three brothers in the Navy however and she knew that while there were few African American health professionals in Vietnam there were a lot of front line African American troops She wanted to be there for them In an interview CPT Allen linked military service to the fundamental obligation of citizenship when she noted Everybody who claims to be an American has military obligations I don t believe women should be exempt She had to be very persistent before she was finally assigned to the Army hospital at Cu Chi headquarters of the 25th Division One of her responsibilities involved flying aboard the helicopters used for medical evacuation In her memoir CPT Allen wrote that she will never forget her first evac patient a sucking chest wound It was a night flight and the helicopter could not use lights The only thing I know to do is find his face and do breathing for this kid and I do that all the way to Saigon I keep him alive in the dark We set down they take him off and we re back up again and moving She learned to conduct triage which involved deciding which patients should be treated first and which would have to wait because their cases were too complex Operating on soldiers who needed lengthy procedures would take too much time when resources were limited and there were too many patients waiting for surgery We only had three operating rooms We took first those that would use the least resources said Allen Those that needed long surgeries had to wait until there was a lull Some died in the interim others stayed alive and were eventually operated on By the time of the Tet Offensive CPT Allen was at the 71st Evacuation Hospital in Pleiku She remembered that the hospital was fired on virtually every night and for this reason they assigned the most experienced nurses to night duty There was no place to go You had to keep doing whatever you were doing Responding to fear is not always an option Men s lives were dependent on me and my being scared was not useful she said After the war she received a doctorate in nursing from the University of South Carolina and served in the Army Reserve She is now an associate professor of nursing at the University of Michigan 43 Like the Army the Air Force also sent some of its nurses to serve overseas in support of the war in Vietnam One of these nurses was Air Force CPT Olivia Theriot who was stationed at Clark AFB in the Philippines as a flight nurse with the 902nd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron during the Tet Offensive She made daily trips in and out of Saigon aboard C 118s and C 130s moving the wounded between Vietnam the Philippines Okinawa and Thailand Most times the flight in carried supplies and the flight out carried patients During the height of the Offensive her unit flew in and out several times a day She recalled many amputees tracheotomies and hemorrhages and noted I was one of a few blessed flight nurses that never had an in flight death On one assignment she flew into the demilitarized zone DMZ to evacuate personnel from a Navy ship that had been hit After the war CPT Theriot remained in the Air Force Nurse Corps and she later retired as a lieutenant colonel 44 USA NC 1LT Diane M Lindsay of the 95th Evacuation Hospital receives the Soldier s Medal she had restrained a soldier who had pulled the pin from a live grenade and thrown it 1LT Lindsay was the first African American woman to be recognized with the award and the second USA nurse to earn the medal in Vietnam Army Nurse Corps Collection Office of Medical History Office of the Surgeon General After the Tet Offensive Although the Tet Offensive ultimately failed to push the US Armed Forces out of Vietnam it shocked the American public which had until then believed that the United States would win the war In April 1969 as the war was becoming increasingly unpopular at home Army nurse LT Diane M Lindsay volunteered for assignment to Vietnam She was on duty at the 95th Evacuation Hospital when a confused US soldier pulled the pin from a live grenade and threw it LT Lindsay and a male officer restrained the soldier and convinced him to relinquish a second grenade thereby avoiding additional casualties Her bravery earned her the Soldier s Medal for heroism She was the first black nurse to receive the award and was eventually promoted to captain 45 Cora L Burton joined the USA NC in 1956 and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1977 From September 1969 to September 1970 she served at the 91st Evacuation Hospital in Chu Lai Vietnam and for her performance in Vietnam received the Bronze Star Women s Memorial Register In addition to the stress of living and working in a war theater African American military nurses in Vietnam frequently faced additional stresses related to racial and sexual harassment Army MAJ Cora L Burton served at the 91st Evacuation Hospital at Chu Lai from September 1969 to September 1970 A northern city Chu Lai experienced almost daily rocket attacks during this period MAJ Burton served as a hospital supervisor monitoring patient triage and stepping in during emergencies Initially her chief nurse had resisted giving her a supervisory position She believed it was because she was black and complained to the hospital commander The issue was resolved in favor of MAJ Burton however this meant that she owed the commander a favor Wrote Burton The Colonel found ways to let me know what he wanted from me in return for my support my body I learned to duck with such grace and poise I soon became as fleet of foot as any prima ballerina I didn t want to offend or anger him because I had been warned of his vindictiveness Instead I called on all the psychology I had learned as well as my intuitiveness to stay out of his clutches The commander repeatedly asked MAJ Burton to visit him in his trailer and even gave her a sexually explicit book to read saying Why don t you read this

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