The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Mary Elizabeth Breed

“I said, ‘What do you mean, nurses don’t cry here?’” (Audio interview, 47:20)

   Mary Elizabeth Breed
Placeholder Image
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Service Location: Da Nang, Vietnam; Quang Tri, Vietnam; Fort Jackson, North Carolina
Rank: First Lieutenant
View Full Description

At the time she enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in 1968, casualties in Vietnam were mounting, and the war had begun to affect Mary Breed personally: her brother was twice wounded during his time in country. Entering the service to assist other servicemen in the same way her brother had been cared for, she spent time in both a large evacuation hospital (the 95th Evac in Da Nang) and a smaller field hospital (the 18th Surgical in Quang Tri). She coped with the intense stress of her environment through simple pleasures such as games of Monopoly and roller-skating--as well as endless conversations with her fellow nurses and medics, a necessary part of decompressing from the carnage they witnessed.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (95 min.)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 2
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Brother wounded twice in Vietnam; Tet Offensive and escalation of casualties; war affecting her personally; decision to enlist as a nurse. (01:04) Intensity of goodbye to family; flight to Vietnam; first thoughts upon arrival. (04:21) Portrayal in media of nurses in Vietnam; decision not to drink; ways of relieving stress; playing games; visiting orphanages. (04:47)
Getting to know helicopter crews well; traveling by chopper; one incident in which she was listening over radio when the helicopter was shot down; friends survived. (02:55) Learning her father died; whirlwind night; her colleagues taking up a collection to fund her return trip home. (02:40) 

Home » Mary Elizabeth Breed
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us