There on the campus, a young girl, very bright.
Stepping into a world of promise, a world of light.
Pre-med biology, morphology; tough courses galore.
Genetics and cytology, then a low chemistry score.
Physiology and pathology, she was 'ology-ized.
And a medical term dictionary to be memorized,
Seventy percent failed to make it past the first year,
But RN graduation with commission awaited our dear.
Across the melting tarmac, through the noises she ran.
Lugging her duffel, her nursing tour in Vietnam began.
Put on-call to work in O.R. she had no time to adjust,
The new girl had to perform her new job, that was a must.
Her compassion tore her apart, hearing their cries of pain,
Mangled limbs, a missing face, burns, it was all so insane.
The young men came in and, too often, the bodies went out.
The first man she lost touched her forever, without a doubt.
Clean, crisply starched sheets for the boys who survived.
A moment of false peace for her, mostly alcohol inspired.
Their recovery reassured her, these men in their prime.
Her goal became to send them all home, one at a time.
Alone in her hooch, late at night, it was her turn to cry.
Valiant men dying, such a waste, she asked herself; Why?
Then finally, it was all over, she rotated back to the states.
She took a job in a city hospital, lost in a world of ingrates.
It was spring, April last year, when I saw her there at our Wall.
She couldn't save them, but she loved them, each one and all.
She wasn't my girl, not my mom, nor even my wife,
but, at the time, she was the only woman of my life.
She said it was WE who made her whole life worthwhile,
And she did it for US she said, and that made her smile.
I hope happiness finds her, and her peace she has met,
Because each and every Vietnam nurse truly is a vet.
~ Jungle Vet 1995 ~
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