Monday, April 19, 2010

Women in service

I am sure that most people know that eight military women were killed in 'Nam, but in doing some reading I have learned that 59 civilian women perished, too! These women worked for a number of different and diverse organizations and I will list them further on.

This got me to thinking about something else I read recently. The memorial in D.C. that depicts two nurses aiding an injured G.I., and awaiting a medivac chopper, is entitled "The Woman's Memorial" although many, including locals have dubbed it "The Nurses Memorial" and I now understand why those who are most deeply involved in this site have objected to this unofficial renaming. I had no idea that 67 women had died in 'Nam!

These civilian women included;

3 American Red Cross workers
2 Army Special Services workers
1 Catholic Relief worker
2 C.I.A. agents
2 U.S.A.I.D. workers
2 Journalists
4 Missionaries
4 POW/MIAs (still unaccounted for)
1 U. S. Navy civilian
38 Killed in a plane crash during operation "Baby-lift"

Two of the 59 were children and two others were murdered by American soldiers. The remainder were mostly killed in gun battles and explosions and other hostile activity.

This got me thinking about the service of civilian women in other wars and the fact that just last month (March 2010) the Womens Army Service Pilots (WASP) were finally recognized for their exemplary service during WWII. These women performed numerous flight duties including towing targets for battleships to shoot at for practice! I know this because my former Mother-in-Law (a great lady) was one of the ones towing targets. Well, last month the organization (each member, living or deceased) was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal (the highest civilian award one may receive) and the remaining WASP members gathered in Washington D.C. for the ceremony. It is a wonderful tribute to these brave patriots, but it took over 60 years for it to happen. As a result only around 300 of the original 1600 (approximately) were actually able to see and enjoy their day of recognition.

So, the next time you are in D. C. make a point to visit The Woman's Memorial (near the Wall) and recall the service and sacrifices of our Mothers and Grandmothers in the past and our sisters in 'Nam.


  1. Beautifully put. I was very happy last month when I saw that the WASPs were being honored - finally! They deserved it!

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  3. Michael, this is a lovely post. Just a tweak. The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to ALL WASP (not WASPS), living and deceased. Thanks for mentioning Mom, Michael. I’ve also passed your website addy on to that friend of mine in Maine who is also a Viet Nam Vet and also interested in photography. Hope he chooses to follow.

    PS HOPE THE POST comes through for you! You surely deserve it.

  4. Glenna Goodacre, originally from Lubbock, Texas, and now from Santa Fe, NM, is the sculptress of the Women's Memorial. Glenna, who is a family friend of my mother, is no doubt the greatest living sculptress in the USA. She used many models for the three figures in the Women's Memorial piece. It might interest you to know (since you are a retired educator) that the model for the soldier's right arm (the one on the ground) was a teacher from a school in Lubbock. I found your blog through the article in the Washington Post. Thank you for informing others about your quest. May you find inner peace and healing in your project.