Remembering The Nurses

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This past Friday, on February 19th, I traveled to a gathering of WWII vendors in Louisville, Kentucky. It was called “The Ohio Valley Show of Shows”. By invitation, I went with my wife’s cousin, his daughter, and a friend of hers. I had the opportunity to speak with many people (mostly veterans) and there were a few highlights for me personally.

I was fortunate to meet and chat with some of the members of “Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne.” Many of you may remember these fellows from the HBO series Band of Brothers. Along with meeting and talking with these men, I bought a book co-written by Jake McNiece, called The Filthy Thirteen. The movie, The Dirty Dozen was based on their story. They were a demolition team attached to the 506th and also parachuted with The Band of Brothers on the morning of D-Day. Mr. McNiece’s book is a great read, by the way.

One of my greatest unexpected thrills, however, was meeting a nurse who had served in Vietnam. Being a medic, many of the wounded that I treated were transported out of the danger zone to a field hospital, and eventually they came back to our unit (if their wounds were not too severe) singing the praises of those wonderful nurses who cared for them and sat and talked with them. For many, it was a sweet touch of home. I swore that if I ever had an opportunity, I would thank them and tell them how much their special care meant to so many GI’s.

I left Vietnam in September of 1969, and never forgot this promise I had made to myself and as I was moving from exhibit to exhibit, I overheard a woman say the words, “Vietnam nurse.” I turned quickly toward the source and asked this woman to repeat what she had said. She chuckled and said, “I said I think Vietnam nurses should be included in this exhibit.” I asked her if she happened to be a Vietnam nurse and she said that she was. I told her that I needed to hug her and then I related all that I just shared here. We were both teary-eyed and she thanked me for telling her all that I had and she also thanked me for what I did for all the men that I worked on in the field. Her husband took a picture of us and we shook hands as well. He was also a Vietnam vet.

It was a great day, a day I had never anticipated. Randy Ark

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