Spanish Am -> Vietnam

Spanish American War to Vietnam

Spanish-American War

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, 1,500 nurses under civilian contract provided outstanding care in the field and on the hospital ship Relief. One of the nurses, Clara Maas, assisted with the research into yellow fever transmission. Among the first subjects to volunteer to be bitten by an infected mosquito, she became ill with the disease and died. Maas was buried at government expense with full military honors. In 1976, the United States issued a postage stamp in her honor. The outstanding care provided by nurses during the Spanish-American War resulted in the formation of the Army Nurse Corps in 1901, followed by the Navy Nurse Corps in 1908. However, these women found themselves without clearly defined roles, rank or military grade.

World War I

In 1917 when America entered World War I, many women in the Nurse Corps saw duty close to the front lines and were wounded or gassed as a result. Some were imprisoned by the Germans. Since the nurses were not engaged in combat, the government refused to grant disability pay.

World War I also saw women outside the nurse corps officailly in uniform for the first time. Volunteers were recruited to assume some of the clerical duties routinely done by men. This call for volunteers resulted in more than 12,000 volunteers for extended servicemen's benefits to women. Not until 1942 would women receive pay and allowances commensurate with men. However, other treatment remained unequal -- marriage and pregnancy were grounds for dishonorable discharge.

World War II

The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was established as America prepared for World War II. Within a year, it became fully incorporated into the Army and became the Women's Army Corps, with rank, pay and appropriate benefits. Soon after, the Navy organized the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) as part of the Naval Reserve. Women in the Coast Guard were inducted as SPARs (Semper Paratus -- Always Ready). Women served throughout the theaters of operation -- as secretaries, interpreters, intelligence operatives. Nurses once again were at or near the front lines. More than 200 were killed by hostile fire, including six Army nurses who remain buried at the beachhead on Normandy.Also during World War II, 900 women volunteered to join the Women's Air Forces Service Pilots (WASPs). They served as flight instructors for men, ferried airplanes from the United States to Europe, and had the dubious privilege of towing targes so fighter pilots using live ammunition could practice on something moving. Thirty-eight WASPs were killed in airplane crashes and many more injured. Except for their pay, these women received no benefits, medical care or insurance for their on-the-job injuries, and could not even have a flag draped over their caskets until 1977 -- when service to this country was formally recognized. During World War II, more than 384,000 women served in the military.

Korean War

The Korean War once again saw women serving both in hospitals and in support roles. The development of the air evacuation system for combat casualties and the expansion of the roles of the flight nurse were pioneered during Korea and would make a significant difference in the casualty care system during Vietnam.

During the Korean era over 120, 000 women were on active duty. Inaddition to the nurses actually in Korea, many women served at support unitsnearby, in Japan and other far eastern countries. Yet, it appears that the women who served during this campaign have become as forgotten as the war itself. Many of the web pages on the internet highlighting the Korean War fail to mention them. We know they were there.Captain Lillian Kinkela Keil, a member of the Air Force Nurse Corps and possibly the most decorated woman in the U.S. military flew over 200 air evacuation missions during WWII as well as 25 trans- Atlantic crossings. She went back to civilian flying with United Airlines after the war, but when the Korean conflict errupted she donned her uniform once more and flew several hundred more missions as a flight nurse in Korea. Captain Keil-Kinkela was the inspiration for the 1953 movie "Flight Nurses" and served as technical advisor to the film. Her decorations include the European Theater of Operations with Four Battle Stars; The Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters; The Presidential Unit Citation with One Oak Leaf Cluster; The Korean Service Medal with Seven Battle Stars; The American Campaign Medal; The United Defense Medal; and Presidential Citation, Republic of Korea. Captain Kinkela has been honored several times in her home town of Covina Hills, California and is still quite active in the VFW.

The info in between the dotted lines courtesy of Capt. Barb

Vietnam War

The perception that women, if there at all, were assigned to the "safe" places in Vietnam demonstrates an ignorance of women's contributions. From the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964 to the fall of Saigon in 1975, more than 265,000 women served in the military. Approximately 11,000 women served in Vietnam; most served as military nurses. Others worked as physicians or in intelligence, supply, administration, air support and addition areas. Eight military nurses died while seving in Vietnam -- their names are engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Military Women8
Civilian Women56