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"As the battalion commander of the unit, I was the first woman and first nurse to ever hold that position. It was quite an awesome responsibility." (Audio Interview, 6:02)

   Karen Gruber Trueblood
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War: Cold War; Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Navy; Navy
Unit: 4th Medical Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group
Service Location: Great Lakes, Illinois; Portsmouth, Virginia; Alaska; Guatemala; also: Pentagon, Arlington, Virginia; Kuwait; Iraq
Rank: Captain
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Among Navy Captain Karen Trueblood's many accomplishments--which include raising one son and a set of triplets--is her deft command of the US Marines 4th Medical Battalion. The first woman and nurse to hold that position, Trueblood felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility to care not just for those in her command, but for the Marines and sailors she treated. After enlisting in 1977, Trueblood experienced combat for the first time in the Persian Gulf War. But it was her service in the Global War on Terror that made the biggest impression on her. The significance of her position couldn't contrast more with the woman of Iraq, who have never known true freedom. Karen Trueblood continues to serve her fellow soldiers and sailors as executive director of the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program, which provides services to homeless veterans and their families.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (4 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (29 min.)
More like this
»The Global War on Terror
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (4 items)
The Marine Corps relies on the Navy to supply doctors and nurses during combat; chosen from applicants across the country to command a medical battalion; knew they would be mobilized. (01:00) Had the opportunity to go to one of Saddam Hussein's palaces; contrast between the luxury of Hussein's life with the poverty of the ordinary people; conditions were like those in biblical times. (01:06) Overwhelming sense of responsibility for taking over 500 soldiers into combat; wanted to keep them safe, and make sure they had what they needed to do their jobs. (00:49)
All the training and preparation paid off serving in war; proud to be an American when you see a country without freedom. (01:24)  

Home » Karen Gruber Trueblood
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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