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"I might have been home but my mind was somewhere else." (Video interview, 40:27)

   Martha Roed Bell
Collection image
Martha Bell [detail from video]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army Nurse Corps
Unit: 12th Evacuation Hospital; 3rd Field Hospital
Service Location: Saigon and Cu Chi, Vietnam
Rank: Colonel
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Looking to expand her horizons beyond her home state of New York, Colonel Martha Bell joined the Army Student Nurse Program in 1967--though she didn’t imagine that it would eventually take her as far away as Vietnam. Arriving in country, she treated primarily Vietnamese patients rather than American GIs, first at the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi, and then later at the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon. In her interview, she discusses the "bonds like glue" that she developed with her fellow nurses, the disillusionment she felt upon seeing the politics of war played out in Saigon, and the lessons in empathy and ingenuity that her Vietnam service taught her.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (57 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
First days in country; serving at the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi; first memorable patient. (05:24) Transfer to 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon; dealing mostly with Vietnamese patients; very different atmosphere than her previous assignment; disillusionment at politics present in Saigon. (04:45) Returning home very bitter after experiences in Saigon; drawing on support of her husband and other service friends; reacting to hearing firecrackers on the Fourth of July. (02:14)
Learning lessons of humility, appreciation, and ingenuity while in Vietnam. (02:18) Importance of empathy in nursing; has no regrets about her service in Vietnam. (02:14) 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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