Nursing Leadership/ The Nurses Who served in Vietnam War

The Army Nursing Corps (ANC)

The Army Nursing Corps (ANC) began in Saigon, Vietnam Republic, in April 1956, when they got a few nurses from the army working in the United States. The nurses were deployed to Vietnam on a brief assignment to educate the practitioners in the southern portion of Vietnam on nursing techniques and procedures. Colonel Anna Mae Hays, who led the corps, became the first brigadier general to earn the rank of general officer in 1970. The chief nurse heading the team play different roles among them, controlling, assigning and also establishing all theatre procedures, making sure the overall care of the patients was up to standard. The chief wardmaster was responsible in supervision of the other staff in the hospital. Nurses who were sent to Vietnam were somehow new in their nursing career and they mainly were aged around 23.6 years. Additionally there were married couples assigned to serve in Vietnam, nurses who became pregnant on assignment were sent back to the United States to give birth. All nurses regardless of the situations were flexible, quick learners and were ready to work wherever they were assigned to serve the people.

Reasons for Volunteering

Some of the reasons why the army nurses volunteered to work in Vietnam are some of them went for adventure, others thought by doing that they were being patriotic, others thought that the American troops really needed some medical assistance and others went to offer the Vietnam the medical assistance they needed. The nurses went through a lot from feeling lonely since most of them left their loved ones at home, the heat was too much, the disturbances from the gastrointestinal discomfort, they felt that their uniforms that they wore while on duty were not feminine, working equipment were a challenge. However they overcome all this stresses by humorous, interacting with each other and making fun of all the funny stuff that had happened in the line of duty.

Achievements and Impact

The nurses that served in Vietnam received praises universally for all their distinction achievements. The Army nurses returned to the United States in March of 1973 after completing their assignment, they however testified that their stay in Vietnam had made an impact in their lives both spiritually and emotionally. One nurse was happy to say, “Am proud of the things I learnt in Vietnam, the things we did as Army nurses really brought out our fighting force as we did what we were intended to do.” However, on a sad note there was a very hostile fire that took sixteen lives both women and officers, the entire nation will forever be grateful for the sacrifice, kindness, courage and ultimate dedication by the ANC women.


Patricia Rushton, Lynn Clark Callister, Maile K. Wilson, comps., Latter-day Saint Nurses at War: A Story of Caring and Sacrifice (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005) 161–197.

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