American Daughter Gone to War: On the Front Lines With an Army Nurse in Vietnam – by Winnie Smith

This book is different. This book goes where no memoir has gone before. It is a soul sharing account of former US Army nurse Winnie Smith’s three years in the US Army nurse corps with the focus on Viet-Nam and its devastating personal aftermath.

You follow her from her initial days in the US Army to Japan where she gets her first views of the war in Viet-Nam. She starts developing strong relationships with the “warriors.” Some become extended family. This closeness takes it toll as the men she liked, and sometimes loved, were killed, lost in action, or wounded. Her testimony of life at the Third Field Hospital in Saigon and then in the head trauma unit of the next hospital were so vivid you are there. She lets it be known that the army was not set up for females by the lack of facilities available. She danced with David Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet fame with out even knowing who he was until the other nurses asked what he like was. Her fear had her turn down marriage proposal from West Pointer Peter.

After the service, she had trouble with relationships. In the years ahead, she lived in Dallas then San Francisco. While she went to graduate school the years following Viet-Nam are a vivid picture of the horrors of post traumatic stress disorder. The book is a painful look at this horrific disorder. The book shows there is hope and in many ways seem to be her avenue for dealing with it. She is surprised other persons have similar difficulties coping. She is shocked to learn that her stepfather who lost a leg in World War II had been injured days into the combat zone and thus had no real experience of war as a point of common ground. The book is worth your time. It shows the human toll of any war. Read by Jimmie Kepler in April – May 2006.

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