VFW Magazine March 2011 : Page 16

tour another year. It was during 1972 that she experienced the “horrors of war.” She assisted Army nurses when Vietnamese wounded were brought to the 95th Evac Hospital at China Beach. Sanchez vividly recalls one enemy attack in particular. “I had to count [several] heads and arms and put them together in the right numbers [in a sep-arate body bag],” she said. “We had to take those body pieces and put them in body bags so they were the same color, and there would not be two left feet or two right hands.” She calls the nurses she served with Army Lt. Margaret Gibson served with the 121st Evac Hospital in Korea during 1950, experiencing harsh conditions. 7 Today, Gibson says all people should serve two years in the military because it is part of “our responsibility.” While she said she’s glad to have served, two things still haunt her mem-ory. For one, Korea’s “below-zero tem-peratures”were nearly unbearable. But “the absolute worst memory I have is of the Marines and soldiers getting killed,” she recalled.“I don’t like thinking about it because it starts pictures of them back then flowing through my mind— pictures that I’d rather not see.” Vietnam: Covert Action Maj. Aida Nancy Sanchez arrived in Vietnam on Dec. 25, 1970. For the 38-year-old physical therapist, it would be her most unique tour of duty. Sanchez had been working at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii when she received word she would be departing for Vietnam before the year was out. Assigned to the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Da Nang, Sanchez was asked to go on a top-secret assignment. She was told only that she would be required to travel outside Vietnam in civilian clothes. Before leaving for Saigon, she was informed her assignment was to travel to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, where she would treat Lon Nol,the coun-try’s president. He had suffered a stroke and needed intense physical therapy. She was asked to read the president’s 16 • VFW • March 2011 Army Maj. Aida Sanchez was a medical specialist at the 95th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam in 1971. Female Purple Heart WIA Recipients WWII ............................ 100 Korea............................. 3 Vietnam........................ 10 Persian Gulf .................. 6 Iraq/Afghanistan ...... 741 Source:Women at War by James Wise, Jr., and Scott Baron, Naval Institute Press (2006), pp. 193-218. medical records, but not take any notes or make any copies. In Phnom Penh, she stayed at the city’s finest hotel and was guarded by seven Cambodians and two undercover U.S. agents. “They said, ‘We are protecting you. Anything you need please tell us.But you need to be quiet about it,’ ”she recalled. However, she was the only one allowed inside the presidential palace. On one occasion, Sanchez was called from her hotel in the middle of the night and driven to the U.S. Embassy where she was asked to try identifying men from photos spread before her. “I said, ‘Excuse me, I was sent here to treat the president of Cambodia,’ ” she remembers.“Nobody ever told me that I was going to be sort of like a spy.” From then on, she would track faces in the palace and tell U.S. officials. She worked with the Cambodian president for a year before extending her “incredible human beings.” On one occasion, she watched a nurse and a neurosurgeon save the life of a South Vietnamese soldier who had part of his brain exposed. “He lived,” Sanchez said. “It was my turn to rehabilitate him. He could walk with a cane and helped me as a translator with South Vietnamese soldiers who were wounded and needed physical therapy.” Persian Gulf War: Managing Logistics On Aug. 2, 1990, the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division was put on alert for deployment to the Persian Gulf. Lt. Col. Nanette Gallant, then a captain,was part of an advance team that went into Saudi Arabia and set up supply sources for those following later. “It was very strange,” Gallant recalled. “By the time all the planes had landed it was me with 900 men, but nobody touched me, nobody bothered me. I felt like I was a regular teammate. That was a pretty exciting thing—I’ll always remem-ber that.” During the Persian GulfWar, Gallant first served as the division’s acting sup-port commander, positioning tents and supply areas. Assuming her role as the general supply officer, she arranged for food and fuel for the troops. Some 15 years later, Gallant served with the 82nd Airborne in the Iraq War. Gallant was one of 40,782 women deployed to the Persian Gulf region; 13 were killed, six in action. Afghanistan: Saving Afghan Lives Following the Sept. 11, 2001, Islamic ter-Continued on page 18  WOMEN’S MEMORIAL FOUNDATION COLLECTION

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