I like being able to listen to the women speak about their experiences. It provides the listener with a more personal connection to the veteran. You get a sense of the kind of person they are, especially their sense of humor.
Violet Hill Gordon was an African American (very interesting!) in the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) during WWII. After the war ended, she stayed on as the WAAC was absorbed into the Army and became the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), which allowed her to make use of the G.I. Bill. When she left the military at the rank of captain, she completed her education and started a career in social work. The military opened up a new field of work that she had never considered, and it also helped to develop her strength of character.
One of Gordon’s comments that I found particularly entertaining was about her friend joining the Navy. “Her reason for selecting the Navy over the Army was that the Navy uniforms were much more chic. She just couldn’t imagine herself in all that kaki.”
Frances M. Liberty was part of the Army Nurse Corps and served during WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam War. During WWII nurses were needed very badly, and in comparison to WWI, they were treated with respect, though they didn’t receive offical rank until 1957. Liberty was part of the first wave at Anzio, where the nurses maintained a foxhole aid station and lost several people. She was separated, but not discharged after the war ended, and went to work in a hospital.
During the Korean War she was called back into service, at the rank of captain. Liberty treated the wounded that were sent back home from Korea, before going there herself. When she left, she stayed on active duty as a teacher. Though she characterized herself as a blunt and impolite nurse, she had the night shifts caring for John Foster Dulles, who she played cards with at Walter Reed.
A colonel by Vietnam Liberty went there three times. The first time she was important in starting M.A.S.H. units. The second time she was there as a disciplinarian to some of the nurses having trouble. The last time she was at Cam Ranh Bay, working in a large hospital when it was attacked. Being a nurse since WWII, Liberty commented on the advanced treatments by the time of Vietnam. She mentioned that triage was the most difficult for Americans to learn. She eventually retired, after 28 years in the military. She was glad for the experience her time in the military provided, though she did have trouble volunteering in hospitals afterwards. They wouldn’t accept her because she was too qualified!