The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Lola Mae Rhoades Olsmith

"That’s when I started getting chills up and down my spine." (Audio interview, 4:23)

   Lola Mae Rhoades Olsmith
Collection image
Lola Rhoades Olsmith in a new WAC uniform [7/1973]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Persian Gulf War Era, 1990-2001
Branch: Army Nurse Corps
Service Location: Vietnam; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Fort Meade, Virginia; also: Germany
Rank: Colonel
View Full Description

Serving in the Army Nurse Corps in Vietnam in 1968, and treating Vietnamese civilians and prisoners of war in addition to American wounded, Colonel Lola Olsmith’s experiences in country quickly transformed her from hawk to dove. Despite her feelings on the war, she took great pride in the accomplishments of the medical community in Vietnam, and continued her military service after returning to the States. Her time in the service gave her a sense of confidence as well as a career: before enlisting, she considered herself "just a nurse," but by the end of her time with the Army, she had found a self-assurance previously unimaginable.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (43 min.)
»Photo Album  (7 photos)
More like this
»Vietnam War: Looking Back Part 4
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Deciding to go to the same nursing school as her aunt; searching for more excitement and volunteering for Army; having more experience than many other new enlistees; getting orders for Vietnam two weeks before the end of basic. (03:20) Conditions at hospital in Vietnam; change in feelings toward war after treating POW patients. (02:25) Experience on R and R in Australia being taken sight-seeing by Australian taxi driver. (02:04)
Did not have any bad experiences upon returning to the States; continuing service Stateside; working in recruiting; pride in the military medicine they practiced in Vietnam. (02:57) Experience during the Tet Offensive having to protect a pregnant Vietnamese civilian from an explosion; having to conduct surgical procedures during bombing. (02:19) Discussion of how service in the military transformed her, gave her confidence and assurance. (01:02)
Description of unique bonds formed between those you work with in the military. (01:26)  

Home » Lola Mae Rhoades Olsmith
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us