Former Navy nurse reflects on Vietnam war
The only female Vietnam veteran headed to Washington DC to visit the Vietnam Memorial Wall served as a nurse in the Navy. She spoke with ABC57's Jess Arnold before boarding the bus to DC.
She may look like your typical all-American grandmother, but Shelia O'Shaughnessy is also a Navy veteran.
"I was a Navy nurse at Great Lakes Hospital in Waukegan, Illinois, but the Navy was a great place to be. They flew me to Tokyo lot of times, I worked the 3 to 11 shift in the emergency room or the clinic area. And about twice a week we would get evacuations from Vietnam. You could get 15 at one time, and a lot of leg injuries, some abdominal injuries, a few head injuries," O'Shaughnessy said.
What was it like seeing the first major injury come through?
"It's not fun. You think oh it could be your brother. I mean I was dating my husband that whole time," O'Shaughnessy said.
Whom she outranked for a little before he worked his way up.
"His ship was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, and they would go along the coast of Vietnam. They were shot at one time," said O'Shaughnessy. "You just have to do what you're trained to do. Yeah some of it was ugly, but you also felt you were going to be helping them. It was going to work out. And they liked a smiling face."
She didn't plan to serve in one of the bloodiest wars in US history.
"I just happened to graduate during the Vietnam War, but I had planned to be a nurse. I thought it sounded exciting," O'Shaughnessy said.