During Women’s History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Gloria Nell Irlbeck Hudoba, who served as a nurse during Vietnam.
While Gloria Nell Irlbeck Hudoba was attending St. Gabriel’s Hospital School of Nursing in Little Falls, Minnesota, an Army recruiter came to speak. Intrigued by the opportunity to travel and the ability to pay for her education, Hudoba joined in September 1964.
Hudoba’s first official assignment was at Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco. She worked in the pediatric ward, treating the children of military families. Six months later, she received orders to serve at a hospital in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. At the age of 22, Hudoba flew to Vietnam as part of the unit that set up the 67th Evacuation Hospital.
She spent 11 months serving in the receiving and pre-operation areas of the hospital. Her job was to prepare patients for surgery, which occasionally included making an incision in the patient’s skin and pulling out a vein in order to insert an IV. Once, the hospital ran out of Type A- blood, so Hudoba donated some of her own to a patient. The main injuries seen at the hospital were shrapnel and gunshot wounds and injuries from military jeep accidents. Hudoba also sometimes treated Vietnamese civilians injured by U.S. military vehicles.
During the last two months of her service, Hudoba worked on a medical ward, where she treated patients with malaria, hepatitis, worms or psychiatric conditions. Nurses and doctors at the hospital also had the opportunity to work in the surrounding community. Hudoba often went to refugee centers to treat Vietnamese children or to a nearby leprosy colony. Despite working 12-hour shifts six days a week, Hudoba and her friends still found time to watch movies, dance and drink at the Officers Club and eat at local restaurants.
In April 1967, Hudoba discharged from the military as a first lieutenant. She married her husband in May of that year. Days later, the newlyweds moved to Germany, where Hudoba’s husband was stationed in the Air Force. Hudoba worked as a civilian nurse for a year before she and her husband had four sons and one daughter. She is currently a member of the Retired Army Nurses Association.
Hudoba said she is grateful for her experience in the Army as she believes her job was very worthwhile and rewarding.
Thank you for your service!
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Fact checker: Bhaavana Oruganty
Graphic artist: Janice Sanders