During the Vietnam War, more than 265,000 American women served the military and 11,000 women served in Vietnam, with 90% working as volunteer nurses.

Responsibilities included massive causality situations involving amputations, wounds, and chest tubes for their patients. Numerous women also served in nearby countries such as Japan, Guam, and the Philippines.

Members of the Army Nurse Corps were in Vietnam as early as 1956 to train Vietnamese women in nursing skills. By 1963, larger numbers of Army Corps Nurses arrived in Vietnam. Over the years, these women worked long hours to aid the servicemembers killed and injured in war.

Guerilla warfare made it impossible to be safe behind the lines, as women received injuries during battle both visible and invisible. Air Force nurses participated in air evacuation missions. Navy women served on hospital ships such as USS Repose and USS Sanctuary off the coast of Vietnam.

In addition to military deaths, 59 women civilian who worked for U.S. governmental agencies and other various organizations such as the Red Cross and the Peace Corps.

Of the women who served, seven Army nurses died in the conflict:

Upon returning to the U.S., women faced hostile treatment like their male counterparts. Women rarely spoke about their service. Limited information about American women in Vietnam complicate knowledge regarding health issues. Many suffered complications from Agent Orange and post-traumatic stress disorder.

VA honors the service of these women and all Vietnam Veterans.

Facts:

  • An estimated 3.4 million U.S. servicemembers deployed to Southeast Asia
  • About 2.7 million deployed to Vietnam
  • 265,000 women served during the Vietnam War
  • 11,000 women were stationed in Vietnam
  • Army Corps Nurses arrived in Vietnam as early as 1956
  • 90% of women who served were volunteer nurses
  • 8 American military women were killed the Vietnam War
  • 59 civilian women were killed the Vietnam War

 

Secretary McDonough on International Women's DaySecretary McDonough on International Women's Day
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation’s Wall of Faces is nearly complete but needs help from the public to track down the last few dozen photos.Virtual Wall of Faces almost complete, needs remaining photos

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

19 Comments

  1. H. Sandy Kalb March 31, 2021 at 11:13 am

    I thank all of the nurses who served in Vietnam. God Bless those who died serving all of us military in Vietnam.
    Both of the following nurses attended the wounded of the 173rd Airborne at the horrific battle at Dak To.
    Unfortunately both nurses were killed in a airplane crash traveling to Gui Nhon.
    I personally lost a Carmi, IL high school friend at Dak To.

    1LT HEDWIG DIANE ORLOWSK
    HONORED ON PANEL 31E, LINE 15 OF THE WALL
    DATE OF CASUALTY:11/30/1967
    CASUALTY PROVINCE: BINH DINH

    Capt ELEANOR GRACE ALEXANDER
    HONORED ON PANEL 31E, LINE 8 OF THE WALL
    DATE OF CASUALTY:11/30/1967
    CASUALTY PROVINCE: BINH DINH
    Anyone of any branch of service who served at Bien Hoa AB, there is a reunion Sept.29-Oct.2 in Branson, MO
    Contact:rick.martinchalk@gmail.com Sincerely:H. Sandy Kalb 510thTFS Bien Hoa 1967-68

  2. John Anthony DeMarco March 30, 2021 at 9:40 am

    I served in Vietnam as a 1 LT US Army, 1970-71 in Phu Bai and DaNang. Initially as a Duster Platoon leader and finished as a General’s Aide to General Robert C Hixson . I want to thank all the women who served and I can’t say thank you enough to those who were nurses and non nurses who served side by side with all. Comrades in arms , I respect those women who served in many capacities , all of which were important for the mission.

  3. Carolyne Ting Goldsmith March 30, 2021 at 12:34 am

    Thank you for honoring the Vietnam War Era women veterans. I served from 1970 to 1978, 3 years in the Army and 4 years in the Air Force. I didn’t talk much about my service through the years. But am proud of my service, especially my time in the Air Force. I worked in a field that was just opening to women—avionics. Four years of having to prove I could do the job. A woman working on B-52s and F-4s. Remember those of us who paved the way for those who followed.

  4. Cmdr Christine Dickman, USNR (ret) March 29, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    In uniform, the first question I was asked was, “Are you a nurse?” After my brother served in some of the worst places a Marine could be assigned, he chose to get his RN and transferred to the USAF as a flight nurse, specializing in triage. He saw duty in the Middle East, Grenada and South America so I know how important nurses are.
    However, from 1966- 1969, I served as a radioman.
    During Pueblo’s capture, I worked in the Long Beach
    NavSta communication tributary for 32 hours straight. Yes, there are others besides nurses. And we need to be recognized for our contributions.

  5. Cmdr Christine Dickman, USNR (ret) March 29, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    First question put to me was, Are you a nurse? I served on active duty with the Navy as a radioman from October 1966 to September 1969. When the Pueblo fell, I was on duty for 32 hours at its home port. Later I received a commission as a line officer.
    My brother was a Marine with his dog up in many places close to the Z and later transferred into the Air Force. With his RN he became a flight nurse during many of the Middle East conflicts, Grenada and down in South America, training doctors and nurses in triage. I know what nurses do.
    However, as my mother was a WAAC/WAC in WWII
    as enlisted and officer working as hard as a man, I agree that women need more recognition as other than a nurse.

  6. B. S. Eichholz Caldwell, PhD March 29, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    I am a proud WAC who served at USARV Hqs in Long Binh from Feb 69-Mar70. As WACs we did an outstanding job under perilous conditions. If not for our accomplishments, I doubt that the Womens’ Army Corps would have folded into the regular Army in 1978, nor women in the military today would enjoy the breadth and scope of responsibilities, leadership, and commensurate rank which they do.

  7. Rose M Smith Hoffman March 29, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    It was always confusing as to if serving during the Vietnam years considered those of us women serving stateside were considered Vietnam Vets. Many of us were MEDICS who served at hospitals where the Air Evac planes arrived and the men on litters were transferred back to US soil. Working Orthopedics at Andrews it was a constant. Did those of us who remained behind still count as Vietnam Vets? All these years later my hat says Vietnam Era , not Vietnam Vet. We may not have been in the field with them, but we sure returned there alongside of them time and time again each and every shift. USAF 1966-1968. Could WIMSA also be mentioned here as it is Women In Military Service, all services over the years. All of us are honored at the Memorial in DC and can be proud to walk with our “Sisters in Service” regardless of what branch we were in. (Or what War) Maybe for us during Vietnam what stands out is how all of us regardless of sex, or branch of Military were treated by the Civilians once our enlistments were over.

  8. Richard Heinzeroth (pharmacy specialist) March 29, 2021 at 4:16 pm

    Nurses of the 18th Surg. Hospital-Pleiku (’66+’67) were the best!!

  9. Joseph Ware March 29, 2021 at 4:12 pm

    I served for 11 months at the 95th Evacuation Hospital, in Danang, and personally witnessed the dedication of the Army and Navy nurses who served in the conflict. They were tireless in their devotion to the casualties and quick to sometimes just give a wounded soldier a minute of conversation with a female. One of the nurses that I remember the most, Lt, Jane McCarthy, was a triage nurse and I actually saw her on an internet show that was a dedication to Vietnam nurses. I still have a pic of she and I standing outside the triage entrance. I served as the Marine liaison, since 95th evac was an Army hospital, and it was by far one of the most gratifying jobs I had during my 6 years in the Marine Corps.

  10. B. Sue Eichholz Caldwell, PhD March 29, 2021 at 4:10 pm

    I am a proud WAC who served at USARV Hqs in Long Binh from Feb 69-March 70. As WACs, we did an outstanding job under perilous conditions and lay the groundwork for future women in the military. Without our accomplishments, I doubt that the Womens’ Army Corp would have folded into the regular Army in 1978, nor would the women in the military today be able to enjoy the breadth and scope of responsibilities, leadership, and commensurate rank which is afforded to them.

  11. Kathy L. Flora March 29, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Thank you Julianne for mentioning the women who are never mentioned! I was part of a flight crew that transported troops into and out of Bien Hoa and Cam Ranh Bay from Clark AFB, 6 days a week for 4 months during the Tet Offensive, and never mentioned! I volunteered too!

    • Nicholas Williams March 29, 2021 at 4:03 pm

      Thank you so your service.

  12. Penelope Price March 29, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    I started reading the article about remembering those who served in Vietnam. It mentions the nurses and those women who are Vietnam Era women but no where does it mention the other women (WAC’s) and their service. I served at Long Binh from June 68-Nov 70 as a SSG of document control. Many times I have been taken to task by saying that I am a Vietnam Vet and have to prove that I served in Vietnam. The Vietnam Women Veterans have a book out on Amazon entitled “Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Story”.It tells the story of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines who were non-nurses. I would like to suggest to those who wrote this article read this book.

  13. Denise Baldwin March 19, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    I appreciate this short article on women serving during the Vietnam war; however, I would really love to see a lot more articles about women in the service; especially about the Women’s Army Corp (WAC). If you mention the WAC to military men and women today, most of them have no idea of what that is.
    As a former WAC I feel it is vitally important to remember my sisters and their important, and ground breaking, contributions to the Army. We are being forgotten and considering that a great portion of the 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam War were WACs, I feel that this is owed to them all. I also wouldn’t mind seeing articles about women in the other services at that time (WAVE, WAF, Marines, Coast Guard).

    • Bev Davis-Tomecek March 29, 2021 at 3:41 pm

      I agree that more recognition should be given to the enlisted women during the Vietnam conflict. As a former WAC, we did many jobs stateside so the men could fight in Vietnam.

  14. Dawn Henry March 18, 2021 at 10:26 am

    I served in the Air Force from 1974 to 1979
    I did the best that I could. I celebrated my 18th birthday in basic training. Honorable discharged with some service connected disabilities. I have major dental issues which is said not service connected. I want to relocate to San Diego California
    I want grow healthy organic food and teach others how to cook and live a natural and healthy lifestyle without drugs or medicine. I am a holistic chef.

  15. Renee Johnson March 17, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Thank you for doing this article. I served stateside, in the Air Force, at the end of that era, and it’s very interesting to me to now find out what the statistics were. I really like the ways all of us veterans are being recognized nowadays; such as, with articles like this one.

  16. Julianne Viduya March 14, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I served in Vietnam form 1969 – 1970 in Long Binh for the U.S, Army Engineer Command and I volunteered and was enlisted. They talk about the nurses and Red Cross volunteers also civilians who went but when it comes to enlisted women who were not nurses we are never mentioned, and that is unfair.

    • Dennis Etzel Jr March 15, 2021 at 4:16 pm

      First, thank you, Julianne for serving our country and for what you did at Long Binh. Yes, this article is sexist. It really does place an emphasis on nurses (which is already problematic) and not on what all women did. YES! We want that list here! We need it.

Comments are closed.