Red Cross Nurses
They Served Too!
Dale R. Summers
CPL Dale R. Summers
© © 2000


They Served Too!

This is a true story happening to me in the summer of 1971. I had hired on with the phone company after Vietnam in 1970.  I received a call one afternoon from one of my employees saying hornets had stung him.  He said he was feeling very ill.  I went to the site (pre-911) and took him to the hospital. A nurse met us at the door and took us immediately to the ER. The employee was examined by a doctor and given medication. The nurse said he would have to stay an hour or so to make sure he didn't have any allergic reactions to the medication. 

The Nurse noticed I had smoking-stuff in my shirt pocket and asked if I wanted to go outside and have a smoke. I said "Sure" and we went out on a private deck reserved for doctors and nurses. We introduced ourselves, she being Nancy (alias for story), I being Dale. As we were smoking and caring on small talk I noticed a Life Line helicopter approaching from a distance. As the chopper got closer I noticed Nancy becoming very fidgety and agitated. As the chopper settled onto the helipad, I noticed a hazing come over her eyes.  As I stepped around in front of her to see better I recognized the look as the "1000 yard stare."  I had seen "the stare" many times on my brother who was with the 29th Marines in A Shau valley.

After about 5 seconds she noticed me staring.  She was embarrassed and started to apologize. I said "No need for that -- bet you were a combat nurse in Nam."  Nancy said, "Is it that noticeable?"  I said, "Yes, it is -- if you've seen it before."

Nancy went on to relate her tour in Vietnam. She had done time on the hospital ship Good Hope and also time in the Navy hospital in Đà Nẵng. She stated the maimed bodies and dying soldiers had really gotten to her. Nancy said the helicopters arriving at the hospitals in Nam always preceded the carnage. The wop - wop of the blades of the Life Line helicopter (vintage UH1E) at close range had brought back those memories.

I don't even remember the nurse's name today but the point of this story is "They served too."  Let us not forget those wonderful women who done their time in Vietnam.  Many a soldier who lay dying, the smile of a combat nurse, the caress of a warm hand, a touch on the cheek or some kind words may have been the last thing they remembered.  Let's honor our Women Vietnam Veterans too!

CPL Dale R. Summers
1966-1967 Logo

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