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Monday, August 10, 2009
LINDA STEVENS, R.N. TELLS HER STORY
A Family of Soldiers
After graduating from KHS, I entered the Nursing School at Deaconess Hospital. As you all know, we were in the midst of the war in Vietnam. Since I came from a family of soldiers, there was no question as to what I should do. While in Nursing School, I join the US Army. Because I had spinal surgery before Nursing School, I was rejected by the Army. This broke my heart but I was very fortunate and very stubborn! I immediately began working with the Army and my Orthopedist surgeon to reapply. Eventually, I received a personal Presidential waiver from President Johnson and after Nursing School I was promoted to a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Nurse Corps.
My goal was to be assigned to a unit going to Vietnam. But first I was assigned to Brooke Army Hospital in San Antonio and Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Denver. Finally, time came for me to be assigned to a combat unit. Much to my dismay I was assigned to the 41st Combat Support Hospital. This unit had just returned from Vietnam and would not recycle until after the end of my enlistment. So, I served my time, but never made it to a combat zone.
At the time of the first war in Iraq, I again enlisted. This time I was rejected because of screws I had in my knees. After 9/11, they raised the age of enlisted for Army nurses and yep, you guessed it, I enlisted again. Damned near made it! I passed everything until the Army came up with an obscure hospital record from 1966. Rejected! Now, I'm just too damned old!
As I mentioned my family has a very long history of serving their country in the time of war. I have many ancestors who fought during the Revolutionary War. One ancestor served with General George Washington at Valley Forge. My great, great, great, great grandfather served during the War of 1812. My great, great grandfather served in the Union Army during the Civil War. He lied about his age being only 14 when he enlisted. After serving several years, he was found out and spent the rest of the war assigned to a hospital. My grandfather served in WWI. My father enlisted before Pearl Harbor & was assigned to an Army hospital in San Francisco. He applied for and was accepted into the Army Air Corps, where he trained to become a B-17 pilot. During WWII, Dad flew 38 combat missions, including bombing the beaches of Normandy. After his combat tour, Dad volunteered to stay in England to fly bombardiers back and forth to North Africa to practice bombing. After the war Dad was picked to become one of the first military helicopter pilots. Later he served as a helicopter pilot instructor. According to the USAFHPA, my Dad at almost 93 years old, is the oldest known, living combat helicopter pilot. He was also the first helicopter on the deck of an aircraft carrier. At the time of the Korean War Dad reenlisted to fly 4 engine planes but he was waved because of his age. Later he flew mapping missions over Alaska for the US Government. In the middle of the Vietnam War, Dad was contacted by the CIA to fly secret mapping missions over Laos and Cambodia. He was ready to go, but his kids begged him not to go and his daughter cried like a baby!
Linda Stevens Vietnam Era Veteran, US Army Nurse Corps, 41st Combat Support Hospital
Member of American Legion Post 404