Preserving Our Past, Capitalizing on the Present, Embracing the Future

ANCA Book Reviews

The Army Nurse Corps Association's quarterly newsletter, The Connection, frequently includes short reviews of books pertaining to Army Nursing. These have been reproduced here for your reference.

Title Category
Born on the Fifth of July: Memoirs of Frontline Nurse Captain Fred Phelps During the Bloodiest Years of Vietnam, by Fredrick O. Phelps
Vietnam War
The Butcher's Daughter: The Story of an Army Nurse with ALS, by Sandra Stuban
A Different Face of War: Memories of a Medical Service Corps Officer in Vietnam, by Colonel (Ret.) James Van Straten, MSC Vietnam War
Fearless Presence, by Eleanor Stoddard
WWI, Memoir
General Wainwright’s Story, by General Jonathan M. Wainwright, edited by Robert Considine
World War II
George, Nicholas and Wilhelm – Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I, by Miranda Carter
World War I
Gulf War Nurses – Personal Accounts of 14 Americans, 1990-1991, and 2003-2010, by Patricia Rushton
Gulf War
Nurses in War – Voices from Iraq and Afghanistan, by Elizabeth Scannell-Desch and Mary Ellen Doherty
Opn Iraqi Freedom,
Opn Enduring Freedom
Nurses Under Fire, by Brenda Jones
World War II
Our Vietnam Nurses, by Annabelle Braley Vietnam War
A Pledge of Silence, by Flora J. Solomon WWII, Fiction
Pride of America, We're With You, by Shari Lynn Wigle
World War I
Pure Grit, by Mary Cronk Farrell
World War II
River City – A Nurse’s Year in Vietnam, by Patricia L. Walsh
Vietnam War
2nd Surgical Hospital, An Khe to Chu Lai South Vietnam, by Colonel (Ret.) Lorna Griess
Vietnam War
The Secret Rescue – An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines, by Cate Lineberry
World War II
What We Got Into, by Casey Westenreider Opn Enduring Freedom

2nd Surgical Hospital, An Khe to Chu Lai South Vietnam

Author: Colonel (Retired) Lorna Griess
Reviewer: Lt. Colonel Larry Moss, ANC (Retired)
Date Reviewed: June 2017

This book presents the experiences of an Army Nurse during her year of service in South Vietnam in a concise and easy to read account. The atmosphere, working conditions and emotional impact on Army Nurses serving in South Vietnam has for many years continued to be a subject of interest to those who never had such experiences.

2nd Surgical Hospital is another well-written exposé of the activities of an Army Nurse during this conflict and war. The author notes that she has presented the basic contents of this book to varied audiences and these presentations were well received and enlightening to the audience. While many Army Nurses have experienced service in conflict and war zones, reading the accounts of other colleagues in similar situations can be enlightening, rewarding and supportive. Rewarding and supportive in that challenges and emotions related to service can be viewed as shared and understood. It provides a clear picture of the vital role of the medical support in military operations. This book will play an important role in enlightening many people about a controversial time in our history.

Of significant note is that the author has taken the time and demonstrated the dedication necessary to document and share her experiences. The more accounts available which document the history of the Army Nurse Corps, individually and collectively, are invaluable in compiling a comprehensive record of the Army Nurse Corps legacy. The 2nd Surgical Hospital, An Khe to Chu Lai South Vietnam will serve as another link in this worthy endeavor.

Our Vietnam Nurses

Author: Annabelle Brayley
Publisher: Michael Joseph/Penguin Australia, 2016
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Retired)
Date Reviewed: September 2016

Not well known in the United States, one of America’s allies, the Australian military, brought nurses and other medical personnel into the Vietnam War. Our Vietnam Nurses by Annabelle Brayley beautifully and poignantly fills this knowledge gap by illuminating the experiences of medics, and military nurses. It also tells the stories of civilian nurses from that country who participated in the medical efforts. The stories of the healthcare professionals are told in an engaging, understated way. There is humor, sometimes boredom and sadness, as these nurses and medics focused on their missions. They were all changed forever by their experiences.

The book proceeds chronologically from October 1964 to June 1971 with personal narratives for one or sometimes two people in each chapter. To assist the narrative, there are captioned photos, a map of Vietnam, and a brief timeline of the Australia’s ten-year involvement in the war. The American reader learns that a “digger” is a soldier and a “secondment” is a temporary transfer or attachment to another unit, and “Butterworth” is not a name of a pancake syrup, but the title of the Royal Australian Air Force Base located in Malaysia.

The author is a nurse who writes capably about challenges in wartime nursing practice. For example, when nurses were short of supplies, from pillows cases to parenteral fluids, they could ask and readily receive support from the American medical services. Australian nurses were also very adaptable as they were “seconded” (detailed) to American Air Force units for flight nurse duties. The system might have been slightly different, but nursing was nursing and they fit in quite well.

Nursing history is never boring, and this book definitely grabs your attention as you follow the lives of the medical personnel as they cope and care in a challenging environment. Especially, moving is their adjustments when they returned home. Many transitioned and went on with little issue; however, some are haunted by intrusive thoughts, troubled by difficult family relations, and psychological problems. Yet, the majority do not regret their time in Vietnam.

I strongly recommend this book as an essential resource for scholars interested military nursing, international nursing, and military history. The comprehensive approach of telling the medics’ and nurses’ stories also enhanced the understanding of the importance of team work in time of war. Scholars interested in women’s history will especially appreciate how these service women demonstrated that they coped with harrowing experiences as successfully as their male counterparts.

A Different Face of War: Memories of a Medical Service Corps Officer in Vietnam

Author: Colonel James G. Van Straten, MSC (Retired)
Publisher: University of North Texas Press, Denton, Texas, 2015
Reviewer: Colonel Claudia Bartz, ANC (Retired)
Date Reviewed: March 2016

The author wrote letters to his wife almost every day during his year-long tour in Vietnam (1966-1967) as a Medical Service Corps officer, which, together with memories still fresh in his mind today, made up the substance of the book. This is a very good, very well-written and very well-edited book. Army Nurses who were in Vietnam would appreciate and relate to then-Major Van Straten’s experiences and observations. All other ANs will find much to relate to as well. Van Straten was especially attentive to the horrors of war experienced by active military (US and ARVN) and also by civilians in the war zone (which was, of course, everywhere in Vietnam). As the senior military advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam in I Corps, based in Da Nang, he experienced a great deal. He was quite thoughtful about things too, noting often that he did not know the explanations for things that puzzled him. He was very sensitive to cultural differences and was offended when other Americans were not. His heart went out to the many impoverished children. His faith and family were strong sources of support for him; rare three-minute phone calls were his only personal contact with his family. No Skype or email back then. Already in 1966, there were differences of opinion at senior officer levels about how and why the war was being fought. Amazingly, the US dragged on in this war, and troops kept dying, for another eight years after Major Van Straten left Vietnam. The book adds to the ever-growing literature about war-fighting, especially its futility when the means are inadequate and the ends are vague and soft. All present and future leaders should read this book and learn from it.

A Pledge of Silence

Author: Flora J. Solomon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing, 2015
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Retired)
Date Reviewed: December 2015

The novel A Pledge of Silence portrays a World War II nurse’s experience as a prisoner of war in the Philippines, by first-time-writer Flora Solomon. She adeptly inserted well-thought-out, vibrant characters into a real life war situation that holds your attention. Her straightforward prose reads like a powerful memoir, rather than a work of fiction.

The narrative moves along two tracks of the main character’s, professional and private worlds. Professionally, we watch her attend nursing school, and train as a nurse anesthetist. We observe her work in a military hospital during combat, and her management of a food bank after the war. Personally, we see her and her friends through dating, engagements, and break-ups before and during the world conflict, and observe her long and successful marriage after the international hostilities.

The author implies many Philippine internees were caused irreparable harm by the military’s requirement to sign “the pledge of silence,” or a nondisclosure statement. When they returned to the United States, they generally did not talk about their experiences, but tried to create normal lives. Solomon believed this directive caused psychological difficulties for many. This conclusion is plausible and was perhaps true in many instances. That being said, we all know that the nurses who were captured freely discussed what they experienced in captivity. They were interviewed multiple times for various psychological studies that demonstrated their hardiness and ability to cope. These Army nurse heroines were highly honored. For example, several helped with the war bond drives throughout the country.

I strongly recommend the book as an interesting look at a challenging time in the Army Nurse Corps history. It is suggested especially for readers interested in the history of women and nurses in World War II, military history, or psychological issues resulting from war.

What We Got Into

Author: Casey Westenreider
Publisher: Xlibris US, 2013
Reviewer: Colonel Claudia Bartz, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: July 2015

More books are coming out about warriors’ experiences during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Recently, I read this book by Casey Westenrieder. (Full disclosure: Casey is my brother-in-law’s nephew.) Casey is a self-proclaimed “grunt,” a Staff Sergeant who got out of the Army in 1998 and decided to come back in after 9/11, re-entering in 2008. He and his platoon were in a far forward camp in Afghanistan. Most of the book is a description of their day-to-day operations (night-to-night, actually) searching for the Taliban and hoping to avoid IEDs and being wounded or killed in any number of other scenarios. To me, the hopelessness of this kind of “war” can hardly be described; what were we doing there? The last part of the book describes the response of Big Army (my words) to the suicide at the camp of a new soldier, who had come to Afghanistan with little to no training. It is grim reading but provides one man’s perspective on his experiences and the Army’s way of dealing with untoward events. Westenrieder was discharged from the Army in 2013.

George, Nicholas and Wilhelm – Three Royal Cousins and the Road to World War I

Author: Miranda Carter
Publisher: New York: Vintage Books, 2011
Reviewer: Colonel Claudia Bartz, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: March 2015

The intermarriage and intermingling of the English, German and Russian royal families that was catalyzed by Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and her nine children can hardly be comprehended. There has always been intermarriage within royal families, but this era takes it to a new level. The book starts by describing the childhoods of the three who would be King, Kaiser and Tsar in the years leading up to 1914. None had a ‘normal childhood.’ One can hardly describe the degree of dysfunction within and between these men and all of the respective families throughout the years. Physical and mental illnesses and maladies were common phenomena. The author has used a massive number of resources including letters and diaries (remember them?), newspapers, and official documents to move the narrative forward in a way that can be followed by the reader. We all know of course how the trio ends, with World War I starting in 1914 and the Tsar killed (1918), the Kaiser exiled, and King George continuing for almost 20 years but with the English parliamentary system actually holding England and, more or less, the Empire, together into the 1930s. George Santayana’s saying is exactly right: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

General Wainwright’s Story

Author: General Jonathan M. Wainwright, edited by Robert Considine
Publisher: Doubleday & Company, New York, 1949
Reviewer: Colonel Claudia Bartz, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: June 2014

A friend loaned me her copy of this book to read after I visited her in Fairbanks, AK, where Fort Wainwright is located. The book is a recounting of the disastrous beginning of WWII in the Philippines, specifically the battles on the Bataan Peninsula and Corregidor. General Wainwright was the commander who surrendered Corregidor to the Japanese once any further resistance would only have resulted in the deaths of all remaining US and allied personnel. We know, of course, that Army nurses were on Corregidor and suffered as captives until the war’s end. General Wainwright describes his own experiences as a prisoner of war from June 1942 to August 1945, first in the Philippines, then in Japan-occupied Formosa (now Taiwan), Korea, and the USSR (now China). Words cannot describe the awfulness of being a prisoner of war, and the lower one’s rank, the worse the conditions and severe lack of any kind of nourishment. Upon release from this nightmare at the war’s end, General Wainwright was able to return to the duties of being an Army officer. He was amazed to see the changes in the US Army that had taken place during his captivity, and learning of the atomic bombs was a further amazement. He was even amazed to see a uniformed woman who said she was a WAC. “What the devil is a whack?” he asked another officer. General Wainwright was among those assembled on the USS Missouri in Yokohama Bay for the Japanese surrender ceremony. In the final chapter of the book, he muses about why the US was so unprepared for this war and how those who attack the US have very different beliefs and values from Americans. Most of what he wrote then applies double today. In all, the book is a very good read if you can find it on the second-hand market. As a side note, my friend and I visited the new Bassett Army Community Hospital at Fort Wainwright; what a jewel of a facility!

Pure Grit
Author: Mary Cronk Farrell
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams, 2014
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: March 2014

What can be said about a book that not only satisfies one’s knowledge of our country’s history but also portrays a moving account involving our Army Nurse Corps colleagues? The reader is provided a concise account of the events impacting the United States during the Japanese invasion of the Philippine Islands in World War II. The involvement of the ANC officers who became prisoners of war is incorporated within this chronology. Instead of the usual individual repetitive presentations of heroic actions and dedication by Army Nurses involved in conflicts, this book incorporates their experiences into a larger account of the actions occurring in the area. It also provides illustrations that facilitate the reader’s ability to follow the events geographically and the author uses pictorial support that significantly enhances the impact and meaning of the text. The book appears to be thoroughly researched and is well organized in a format that facilitates continuity and comprehension. Despite the gruesome subject of the book, the author is able to include some of the subtle humor of the nurses involved, which enhances the humanism depicted: also a hallmark of Army Nurses, in and outside conflict.

The theme of the book, aptly titled Pure Grit, allows for deep reflection on the inhumane environment that a group of female nurses and their male soldier counterparts had to endure. It begs the questions “Could I have survived this?” to “How could one human treat another human so brutally?” A deeper question is how these nurses could continuously put their personal trials and well-being aside for the needs to their patients and fellow nurses. It is evident that the same was true of the feelings of the majority of the soldiers who were victims, one way or the other, of the atrocities of war. Whether intended or not, the book also makes note of the politics that are always seem to be present during and after these conflicts. We are reminded that at times our bureaucracies can be as cruel as our original enemies.

This review would be remiss if it did not include the Navy Nurse Corps members who were also POWs. For ANCA members, the book offers something special. For those who remember an early member, LTC Hattie R. Brantley, she is frequently cited and quoted. Many members had the opportunity to meet her and can attest to her dynamic presence. Pure Grit is a “very good read” which keeps you involved to the point of wanting to continue without interruption.

The Secret Rescue – An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines

Author: Cate Lineberry
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: December 2013

An airplane crash behind enemy lines … Army nurses - potential prisoners … dedicated partisans … crafty American and British super spies … one step ahead of the Gestapo! Sounds like a synopsis of an exciting movie? Yes, it could be. However, it is the précis of an incident that occurred in 1943-1944, when thirteen nurses and thirteen medics flew on a quick hop from their Sicilian camp to the front line in Italy. The C-53 that carried them was blown off course by a storm, fired upon by anti-aircraft weapons, and crash landed in enemy territory. The book tells how these brave nurses and other service personnel were trapped for months, and how they escaped and returned to safety. In the epilogue, the author documents what happened to the nurses, the clandestine British and American operatives, and the Albanian underground participants after 1944.

This volume does exactly what Lineberry set out to do; it tells the entire story of the events. Army officials asked the survivors not to speak about the details of the rescue because of concerns for the safety of secret agents and partisans. So, for the first time, seventy years later, the book now presents all aspects of the escape. Photos and a map show their route from the crash site, across Albania to the Adriatic Sea, to freedom. Particularly moving was the descriptions of the group’s travel on foot during inhospitable weather, their pleasure about receiving a loaf of bread or an orange, and simply, their ability to do “the best with what they had.”

With her artful balance of narrative and information, Kate Lineberry demonstrates that history need not be boring. This book is about real people with real problems, beliefs, and hopes, who did their best in an untenable situation. The author clearly presents these women nurses as people who had conflicts and fears rather than “nursing deities” as many books written about nurses and war do.

I strongly recommend this book as a valuable springboard into the literature of Army nurses’ contributions in the Second World War. Scholars interested women’s, military and nursing history will especially appreciate how these servicewomen demonstrated that they coped with harrowing experiences as successfully as their male counterparts.

Author Kate Lineberry is as delightful as her book. She was worked as a journalist and editor for Smithsonian and National Geographic. Her articles for publications such as New York Times are vivid snapshots of historical subjects as divergent as genealogy secrets and civil war spies.

When the author came across a newspaper clipping of the rescue, she was fascinated by the story and did further research so she could write about it. Lineberry gathered information from declassified German, American and British documents, and collected diaries, photos, and newspaper clippings. She interviewed the only living survivor, as well as families of other service personnel.

She said she wanted people to know that these nurses and medics were non-combatants who were not trained in survival methods, evasion tactics, or how to solicit the assistance of indigenous people. Lineberry presents them as “normal” people who rose to the challenge of a difficult situation and were successful in their efforts. She considers them “pioneers” for all nurses and all service personnel because of their bravery and purposeful actions.

Born on the Fifth of July: Memoirs of Frontline Nurse Captain Fred Phelps During the Bloodiest Years of Vietnam

Author: Colonel Fredrick O. Phelps, ANC (Retired)
Publisher: CreateSpace, 2013
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: September 2013

The Vietnam War was the first war where male nurses functioned as a part of the Army Nurse Corps. Captain Fred Phelps was one of these individuals who served with honor and distinction. Born on the Fifth of July Memoirs: Frontline Nurse Captain Fred Phelps During the Bloodiest Years of Vietnam is the compelling memoir based on a detailed diary he kept from July 1967 to July 1968. Chris Kassel, publisher of the book, also wrote transitional, explanatory notes to help frame the diary’s narrative.

The introduction describes his family’s background in Iowa. Rather than becoming a farmer as members of his family had for generations, Phelps trained to become a nurse. As a child and teenager, he experienced firsthand the patience and understanding of the profession while having multiple surgeries to correct a hare lip and cleft palate. Phelps was drafted in July 1966, and deployed to An Khe, Vietnam in July 1967, serving in a hospital that supported the 1st Cavalry Division.

Phelps wrote about his personal and professional experiences, and defined his day-to-day nursing activities while working in the Intensive Care Unit and the Emergency Room as highly varied and interesting. He penned his impressions of his comrades, the medical evacuations he participated in, the heat and the monsoons he experienced. He described the heroic efforts of the staff to save the lives of patients and the sadness of losing them. He also shared the humorous moments, such as, after delivering a baby, the nurses improvised a bassinet and baby bottle, since none was in the supply inventory of the field hospital. He also told of the challenge of providing nursing care during mass casualty events. Despite the constant threat of attack, he and the healthcare team gave state of the art care to soldiers, civilians, and enemy combatants.

Like many of his peers, Phelps coped with his deployment in several ways.  He found solace in attending religious activities. He could not wait to hear from or communicate with loved ones. He delighted in receiving packages from home and the visits of Hollywood stars like Charlton Heston. He wrote in his daily journal, and created wonderful poetry. Moreover, Phelps visited a refugee camp on his days off, describing the appallingly poor health conditions of the inhabitants; recalling the grateful children who happily feasted on the meager food they brought; and telling of appreciative adults who smiled upon receiving aspirin and other simple therapeutics.

Especially noteworthy is Phelps’ portrayal of the Tet Offensive in which the Communists attacked 100 major cities and towns in South Vietnam in late January and throughout February 1968. “Hell had finally broken out,” he wrote. Phelps and his peers received casualty after casualty as the patient census skyrocketed. It was difficult to relax during this chaotic time. Medical personnel were cautioned to sleep “with fatigues on and helmet ready [in case of attack].”

The work and long hours continued nonstop until Captain Phelps was sent home in June 1968.  In one of his last entries, the Army nurse remarked about “Tomorrow night, which will be my last night of duty as well as my 17th straight day of work without my day off.”  But the hard work, the horrific injuries and the dangerous work environment did not discourage this compassionate, highly competent healthcare professional. After Phelps left Vietnam, he decided he liked the Army and the mission. He, in fact, served for 22 years on active duty, retiring as a Colonel in 1989.

Unfortunately, the formatting of the text and the notes were somewhat confusing to the reader. A table of contents, index, and source citations for the notes would have been helpful. Despite these concerns, the poignant stories told about Phelps’ experiences over the course of a deployment were very moving.

Fred Phelps’ memoir should appeal to a broad readership, military historians, students of gender studies, medical and nursing history, as well as Vietnam, Gulf War, OEF/OIF and other conflict veterans. It also has a wider appeal that illustrates the strength of the human spirit when faced with adversity. It is an inspiring story of a dedicated professional struggling to give the best patient care despite the challenges of a war environment.

Nurses in War – Voices from Iraq and Afghanistan

Author: Elizabeth Scannell-Desch and Mary Ellen Doherty
Publisher: Springer Publishing Company, 2012
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: September 2012

This is a detailed, enlightening book about military nurses who served in Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is an outgrowth of three research studies focusing on nurses’ wartime experiences. The book consists of 19 concise chapters arranged topically. The maps and photos that support the text are quite helpful and well placed.

The first chapter provides a brief overview of modern nursing in wartime. The following chapters use the words of military nurses to describe how they participated in the various phases of deployment and post-deployment. The participants’ words are woven amongst short introductions and conclusions that create a dense narrative both vivid and compelling. The monograph also offers sections about parental separation and women’s health issues. It is significant that the book was written while the conflict continues. Usually, these accounts surface well after the fact. Perhaps the concurrent research about the issues which are outlined in the book will have an impact on future deployment preparations, living conditions and follow-up support. This book provides an excellent base for the exploration of such initiatives. Moreover, it is well written, soundly presented and provides an enlightening expose for the reader who has not had such experiences

The final chapter of this book compares OEF/OIF nurses’ experiences to those nurses who served in the Vietnam War. A myriad of books have been written about such experiences, not only of military nurses but others involved in a theatre of war, and this book credibly documents the combat environment for readers who have not had personal involvement. The accounts are moving and either kindle or rekindle strong emotions about what William Tecumseh Sherman meant when he said “war is hell”. The settings, tactics and personnel may be different, but, as presented in this book, the impact has not significantly changed, if at all, for military nurses and other soldiers, sailors and marines involved in earlier conflicts and wars. If readers of military history examine the writings about war over time, they can draw the conclusion that there have been improvements in living conditions and support services over the years, however, as the book outlines, these challenges still exist and are perceived differently by all involved.

Perhaps the only criticism of the text is it seems to do too much. Not only does the introductory chapter seem superfluous, but it also is not well supported by primary sources. The evaluation is more anecdotal than a comprehensive comparison based on primary sources. These concerns, however, are minor. This volume effectively captures the memories of nurses who served during the recent wartime. This book can be a valuable resource for a large numbers of audiences including military historians, nurses, and those interested in the history of AEF/OIF.

Gulf War Nurses – Personal Accounts of 14 Americans, 1990-1991, and 2003-2010

Author: Patricia Rushton
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: March 2011

This book comes to life through Dr. Patricia Rushton’s sharp writing skills, where page after page she illuminates the lives of fourteen military nurses sharing their thoughts, desires, fears, and challenges. She brings to contem­porary readers a unique focus, perhaps the first researchers to do so – military nurses’ experiences in both Gulf Wars. These are poignant narratives of Army, Air Force and Navy nurses’ assignments in modern war and how their experiences changed their lives.

The book serves as an excellent model for personal narratives: competently and interestingly written, fair to its subjects, nicely illustrated, and carefully crafted. Participation by the narrators was largely motivated by a desire to "tell their story" and have it "put on the record." These tandem aims meant that the primary focus of editing was to convey the meaning of the stories in a readable manner. Rushton achieves these goals, creating moving, intense and instructive accounts.

The Butcher's Daughter: The Story of an Army Nurse with ALS

Author: Sandra Stuban
Publisher: Publishing, 2009
Date Reviewed: September 2009

Lt. Colonel Sandra Stuban, ANC (Retired) has written this unique and inspirational memoir. The story begins in rural Pennsylvania where she grew up the daughter of a butcher. It follows her experiences through nursing school and then as an Army nurse. As a 38-year-old Lieutenant Colonel, she was diagnosed with ALS and told she had 2-3 years to live. It has now been 14 years! Despite being a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic, she has discovered the means to a successful, productive, and happy life. She shares her incredible journey, including "lessons learned" that could be useful to anyone facing life's many challenges.

There is more information at her website,

River City – A Nurse’s Year in Vietnam

Author: Patricia L. Walsh
Publisher: TOA Press, 2009
Reviewer: Colonel C.J. Moore, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: September 2009

A book and an accompanying video, “The Other Angels,” were sent to me recently by author Patricia L. Walsh. The book is a semi-autobiographical account of Ms Walsh’s experience as a nurse anesthetist working in a US Agency for International Development (USAID) hospital in Danang in 1967-1968. Those ANCA members who were in Vietnam may recall these civilian hospitals, using the word ‘hospital’ loosely. Ms Walsh brings to life the horrors of war and the immense ability of the human spirit to cope, at least at some level, with war and what it does to all involved. The video shows the reunion of Ms Walsh with some of the other nurses who served with her at the USAID hospital, during the events around the unveiling of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, 11 November 1993, near the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC. They wore shirts that said “Real China Beach Nurses” since China Beach was their recreation area during the rare lulls in their workdays in Danang. Both the book and video are well worth your time, no matter what “your” war. The book is available from TOA Press LLC, PO Box 2262, Boulder, CO 80306. Ms Walsh can be contacted at for the video. I thank her for contacting me and sending me her work and memories.

Pride of America, We're With You

Author: Shari Lynn Wigle
Publisher: Seaboard Press, 2008
Reviewer: Lt. Colonel Larry Moss, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: September 2008

World War I, to most of us, seems like a long time ago. As Army Nurses we have a tendency to recall most clearly the events of “our war.” Often the joys, trials and tribulations of those who went before us are forgotten or replaced by more recent events. For many, it is hard to imagine what nursing in the Army must have been like before all the fancy and sophisticated gadgets came into our chosen career. This book is a story that can help us appreciate not only our nursing ancestors but also the courage and bravery that is still so evident in our war-fighting soldiers. The book chronicles part of the life of Lieutenant Grace Anderson, ANC. Thanks to her grandson, Dana Swan, the book is based on letters written by Lt. Anderson before, during and after her service as a nurse in World War I. In addition, the military events which occurred prior to and after the World War I armistice are thoroughly researched and provide the reader with an accurate non-fictional account of that period of time. It is interesting to note that Grace Anderson was a pioneer in nurse anesthesia and that these talents were widely used as early as World War I.

Nurses Under Fire

Author: Brenda Jones
Publisher: Cherokee Books, 2007
Reviewer: Lt. Colonel Larry Moss, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: September 2007

“Let us not forget the sacrifices of the nurses who fought for our freedom.”
In her book, Author Brenda Jones emphasizes the above statement in the trials, tribulations and hardships of three Army nurses, from 1941 in the Philippines through their triumphant return to the United States in 1945. The story takes the reader from Manila to Bataan and Corregidor, then after their capture, back to a Manila internment camp. The time the three of them spent in this camp depicts determination for survival and service to the needs of their patients. The events described in the book do not seem to be exaggerated or taken out of context. Compared to actual histories related in books by Army Nurses, the situations described appear authentic, and serve to keep the reader’s attention. One could assume that the descriptions supporting the story were actual and true to fact. The author does not make this claim nor make any references to real happenings or individuals. It may not be the story of real people, but it is nevertheless moving and intriguing. There was a lot of reluctance on my part to read a novel describing the situations of Army nurses in WWII. After reading this novel, though, I can only say that I am glad that I did. One could only hope that many of the situations described in the novel were not real, but I am afraid that they were. While it is the story of three Army nurses, I am sure that there are many more who actually lived in the environment described.

Fearless Presence

Author: Eleanor Stoddard
Publisher: American Literary Press, 2006
Reviewer: Lt. Colonel Larry Moss, ANC (Ret.)
Date Reviewed: June 2007

This book is about the ANC career of LTC Nola Forrest. It was researched and written by author and oral historian Eleanor Stoddard. The primary sources of information include two recorded oral history interviews along with Forrest’s many papers. The list of secondary sources is extensive and includes several members of ANCA. The book chronicles LTC Forrest’s life, including her decision to join the Army. It outlines her service in the ANC for over 20 years and ultimately the assignment as director of Army nurses for the Southwest Pacific Area during WWII. The reader is provided with a compelling story as she leads nurses from two field hospitals into Leyte, the Philippines. Later she participated in the successful rescue of 67 Army nurses from a Japanese internment camp in Manila. The book outlines many episodes in her remarkable career and can foster a sense of pride in the dedication and accomplishments of Army nurses. (The facts in this book emphasize the need for ANCA to continue the collection of oral histories from our members.) This depiction of our history provides for interesting reading and entices the reader to want to find out more about LTC Forrest’s experiences and challenges as the book progresses. As a personal note, the reviewer highly recommends this inspirational book.