Unsung Heros

Marsha Four

First Lieutenant Marsha Four served for three years as a U.S. Army Nurse during the Vietnam War. She was stationed on the front lines in a critical care unit and was awarded the Bronze Star.

QUESTION: Why did you join the military?
MARSHA FOUR: Well, it sounded like a very good idea at the time [LAUGHS]. I have to tell you, I didn't join the military because I wanted to be a part of a patriotic movement for Vietnam, I mean that wasn't it, during that time. Quite frankly, I was in nurses training, and I was in school and knew the things that really matter to me were grades, and whether I had a date on Friday night. We weren't really tuned in to public affairs, and political stories of the time, and it didn't affect us, you know, young woman's life and trying to move on. It really didn't touch me, the Vietnam War didn’t, until a time when in the middle of the night one of our classmates was notified that her brother had been killed in Vietnam, and that was the first time, I think, that any of us said, oh my God, this is real. That was really the first time it hit home. But before that there was, in Vietnam not like today, 12-month tours. And they had to rotate people in and out to keep the troop level high enough, and that certainly was the case for medical staff and nurses, and so, there was a push for, you know, in the schools of nursing to back up those required needs. So we had the recruiters from the different services come in and it was a real good story, I mean they didn't mention Vietnam, that was not even on the table. It was, wow, if you sign up with us, we'll pay you while you're in school, you'll get to work in a government hospital, and not a city hospital or a private hospital and that means, you won't have to go looking for a job when you graduate. We'll let you go to any one of three of your best choices, you can even go on the buddy plan and you'll never get sent overseas unless you request it. Well, that was like, wow, that was great. I had girlfriends that got to buy cars while they were in school, we didn't have any money. It was an opportunity for us to sort of secure future plans after we graduated and so a lot of us jumped at that opportunity. Most of us had no clue what it was going to mean to us. I think there were a certain number of us that maybe wasn't even sure we wanted to be nurses at that point in time. We were all in our second year of nurses training.

QUESTION: What did your friends say when you said you were joining the Army?
MARSHA FOUR: Well, my friends in nurses training didn't react one way or the other, pretty much, I mean, they all gone through the rigmarole of the recruiters and 20 percent of our class joined, so, that wasn't unusual. I didn't have a lot of friends before I got to nurse's training that were very long lasting, because my father worked for the railroad and we moved around a lot. I had been in six grade schools and three high schools so I didn't have any real roots anywhere. My parents were a little disappointed, my mother was unhappy and my father was concerned.

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