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Posted: 7:03 p.m. Saturday, March 31, 2012
DURHAM, N.C. —
The women who served in the Vietnam War rarely get an opportunity to talk about their experiences. One North Carolina woman in particular is given that opportunity. She was only 23 years old when she was thrown into battle as a nurse. She opened up with Eyewitness News about her time in Vietnam. Martha Bell enlisted into the army student nurse program in 1967. She was given orders to hear to Vietnam to serve at the 12th evacuation hospital. Instead of treating GIs, she was caring for innocent Vietnamese casualties of the war. "Babies, children, amputees, young women and men, grandmothers and grandfathers," said Bell. Some lives were saves and some were lost. The shocking dose of reality set in for the young girl from New York. Her husband, Dick, a chopper pilot she met in Vietnam, said what Bell experienced while she was there was more traumatizing that what some of the men faced. "We were engaged in taking the battle to the enemy. They took care of the aftermath," said Dick. Bell wants people to know about the good things that happened there, like the nurses and doctors who traveled to local villages to care for the sick and deliver children. Bell can still remember the names and details of some of the orphans she used to care for. Bell said the best part was meeting her husband. After the end of her tour, she made the military her career and eventually ranked Colonel. She was also very active at the VA hospital in Durham, where she received care herself after the traumas of war. Bell is now the regional director of the Army Nurse Corps Association. She wants to let all women who served know there is help if they need it.
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