2-UNFORGOTTEN EXPERIENCES

12 Tháng Năm 201012:00 SA(Xem: 2061)
2-UNFORGOTTEN EXPERIENCES

LYNDA VAN DEVANTER, a 33 year old Manhattan Beach resident, was stationed in Pleiku and Qui-Nhon, South Vietnam, from 1969 to 1970. She was sent to the neuro-emergency room, where her way was marked by a long trail of blood. She took care of a soldier with his face blown away and his teeth swinging from the jaw that dangled loose. She pumped 120 units of blood through needles in his leg, neck, and both arms. While changing a blood bag, LYNDA accidentally kicked the soldier's

clothes and his photograph fell down. She compared the happy young man standing with his girl friend in the picture and the mass of blood vessels and bruised skin in front of her and she felt sick. (7)

 

In an article on the editorial page of The Los Angeles Times, LYNDA wrote "I am reminded of tiny children with their arms and legs blown off. I remember a pregnant woman with a wound in her stomach, and her child delivered by Caesarean Section –- a child who entered this life with a gunshot wound in his stomach..." (8)

 

Another woman veteran is KATHY GUNSON who was stationed at the 85th EVAC HOSPITAL in Phu-Bai. She spent most of her time there as an emergency room nurse, triage officer, and evaluator of the cause of death for the KIA (Killed In Action). She said it was hard for her to tell the wounded soldiers that everything would be okay. She wrote "The sight of pain, suffering and blood makes me ill... and I grieve because I can no longer cope with my feelings when I am working . . . ." (9)

 

PEGGY DU VALL will always remember pumping blood into an 18-year-old U.S. soldier who stepped on a mine. She said both of his eyes were gone. His face was totally chewed up, he had lost an arm and a leg, and a shell fragment had torn a hole in his trachea. After saving his life, she wondered what kind of life she had saved. (10)

 

Mrs. DUVALL worked in hospitals in Da-Nang and Long-Binh from July 1970 to July 1971. She said in an interview, "In Da-Nang, there was no one to protect us. If there was a red alert while I was sleeping, I'd have to put a helmet and jacket on and crawl under my bed." She noted that nurses had the tendency to over-invest emotionally in their patients even if their chances of survival were poor. She said: "These men were very grateful, probably the most grateful patients I have ever had. We worked twelve hours a day, six days a week. And we'd often work on our day off." According to Mrs. DU VALL, on the 7:00 P.M. to 7:00 A.M. shift two nurses and two medics would take care of 78 men. (11)

 

Unlike other women veterans, entertainer CHRIS NOEL was wearing fashionable mini skirts and trying to mend the troops' minds (12). She was the first woman for the Armed Forces Radio who voluntarily spent five to eight weeks at a time in Southeast Asia, building morale and playing to perfection the role of All-American girl-next-door, sweetheart, sex symbol, sister, and mother surrogate. It is said by those who were there that her message was simple: She told them to stay alive. (13)

 

Television and motion picture actress NOEL also said in an interview "I built morale. I did for morale what LYNDA did for bodies on the operation table. I did it with energy and a lot of smiles. I went to fire bases, I landed in helicopters across Vietnam." (14)

 

She also spent long hours at hospitals and aid stations, chatting with the maimed and burned, giving autographs on bandages and casts. She also trooped out to rifle companies and visited the motor pools and maintenance shops, even the morgue and grave registration office. (15)

 

Sharing her feelings with LISA CONNOLLY from The Los Angeles Times, Ms. NOEL said she got mad at herself twice because she broke down in front of people. Once she was sitting in a small tent out in a field and a tiny Vietnamese boy was dying, his stomach bloated from starvation and from eating garbage. She looked at the GIs,

the medics, the boy's father, and she couldn't take it. She had to leave. (16)
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