Remembering the women behind the men at war

 When one hears the words “Vietnam War” the images that come to mind first are young men with camouflage covered helmets and bandoliers of ammo fighting their way through jungle undergrowth or wading through rice paddies toward grass thatched huts. They are images of young men being shot, bleeding and dying. Behind those young men were young women serving in support rolls, most as nurses, caring for the wounded and dying. One George County man had a chance recently to reflect on the contribution these women made to the war effort. “Hundreds of people visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. every day,” said Buddy Horn, “but I wonder how many take the time to walk around the far end of the Wall and look at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial statue?” Horn, a Marine, went to Vietnam in December 1968 and spent the next eight months in the jun- gle, in near constant con- frontation with enemy units. During that time, he saw a number of his friends and comrades taken out of the fighting by Medevac helicopter to hospitals or in body bags. “I really enjoy visiting Washington, especially the memorials,” Horn said. “I have a kinship with the Vietnam Memorial that only other Nam veterans can relate to. I try very hard to get up there every couple of years. It is like coming home to visit family. For me, coming to the Wall has a way that is similar to reading the Bible. Ev- ery time I read a certain scripture; I gain some- thing new from it. And every time I visit the Wall it is a new experience.” During his last visit he and his wife Patsy made the usual entry by the statue of the three soldiers, commenting on how young they all looked. Then they made the trek past the Wall panels, pausing at the names of those remem- bered or reading notes left by friends or fami- ly of the fallen. As they were nearing the end of the last panel, Horn hap- pened to notice the Viet- nam Women’s Memorial, a statue of three nurses. They walked over to it. “The first place my eyes fell was on the nurse attending to the wounded young soldier. She is holding him across her lap. His eyes are covered, and he appears to be unconscious. She is cradling him gently in her arms as she applies pressure to a chest wound to try and stop the bleeding. Then I looked at her face. Her eyes are so full of compassion and concern. When I saw that, the tears hit my eyes and were running down my face before I even real- ized it. Finally forcing myself to look away, I see the second nurse looking to the sky. My wife gently asked what she is looking for. I replied, ‘Medevac.’ Then we move to the other side and there is the third nurse. She is on her knees, holding this soldier’s helmet in her lap. Her head is bowed in frustration, in fatigue, and I like to think, in prayer.” Nearly 10,000 wom- en in uniform served in Vietnam during the 20- year war, according to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Most were nurses. Many were just barely out of nursing school when they were sent overseas. Not all made it back home. One of those was Sharon Ann Lane. Sharon Ann Lane was born in Zanesville, Ohio, but grew up in North Industry, Stark County, Ohio. She graduated from Canton South High School in June 1961 and entered the Aultman Hospital School of Nursing the following September. She joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserve on April 18, 1968. Lane was sent to Vietnam the following year, in April 1969. She arrived at the 312th Evac Hospital at Chu Lai that same day and was assigned to the Intensive Care Ward and the Vietnamese Ward. She worked 12-hour days for five days each week in the Vietnamese Ward and the sixth day in Intensive Care. Shortly after 6 a.m. on June 8, 1969, 1LT Lane was at work when an enemy rocket hit the hospital, killing two and injuring 27. Suffering fragmentation wounds, 1LT Lane was one of the two fatalities. She was the only U.S. Servicewoman killed as a direct result of enemy fire during the war. Her name appears on Panel 23W, Line 112 of the Wall. “I guess it was the first time I had ever taken a really good look at that statue,” Horn said. “And I don’t think I will ever be the same. What a powerful message this statue brings to us, not just about the horrors of combat, but about the brave, compassionate nurses who gave their best and some gave their all under such adverse conditions to help heal and save these brave young men."

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