|Army Nurse, 8th Field Hospital, Nha Trang, Vietnam, 1969|
|Among the American forces serving in Vietnam were soldiers whose mission was not to fight, but to instead comfort and heal. In March 1962, thirteen U.S. Army nurses arrived at the 8th Field Hosptal, Nha Trang. The number of military nurses serving in Vietnam rose steadily after 1966 to a peak of 900 in 1969.
In Vietnam, the work of U.S. nurses closely resembled that of physicians and medical corpsman. They cared for post-surgery patients by preventing infection, relieving pain, regenerating tissue, and supplying psychological support. Many nurses caring for those soldiers stricken with tropical disease were sometimes forced to bear the burden of the disease themselves, as they often became infected during treatment. For those soldiers whose wounds were so severe that treatment was futile, nurses focused on pain relief and psychological support. Comforting a dying soldier was an essential task, so that the soldier and his family would know he had not died alone.
The U.S. nurses in the Vietnam War served with honor and distinction despite the extraordinary challenge of their mission. Their contribution to the American military effort during the war was recognized in 1993 with the dedication of a statue depicting three women assisting a fallen soldier. It stands near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.