Beth Parks, interviewed by Laura Tucker, Part 2

6
Beth Parks, interviewed by Laura Tucker, Part 2


Document Type

Oral History

Abstract

Beth Parks, interviewed by Laura Tucker on June 11, 1999. Parks speaks about her early life, education, and marriage; becoming an “obligated volunteer” in 1966 for 24-months; the mistake of believing the Army recruiter’s promises; being trained for medical field service at Fort Sam Houston; going to Vietnam early in the war; mistakenly believing her husband was stationed near the DMZ, then learning he was in Thailand; asking to serve a unit near the action; receiving her duty assignment at the Third Field Hospital in Saigon before being moved to the 7th Surgical Hospital (a MASH unit) in the Mekong Delta, and her permanent duty assignment with the 12th Evac.; feeling disoriented in Tan Son Nhut; using a Vietnamese rest room for the first time. She explains a typical day as an operating room nurse with the 7th Surg; operating on canvas litters supported by sawhorses; sometimes working up to 72-hours straight on their feet without food. Parks describes what it was like working in a mass casualty setting and recalls patients she operated on; how a “hooch” was constructed; bartering for bamboo and matting to create privacy curtains between bunks; the male to female ratio and how soldiers who wanted to impress the women allowed the nurses to drive tanks and fly airplanes. She explains the tactics used by the 7th’s chief nurse to secure supplies from other units; going on R&R; discovering the unit’s own supplies were being diverted to the Asian black market; couples using the bunkers at the 12th Evac. to have sex; nurses who were dating doctors finding privacy for sex in an operating room closet; how morale was high at the start of the war when the medical unit lacked military structure and operations were ‘fly by the seat of [your] pants’ and declined as the military-imposed structure and discipline in the form of behavioral and procedural changes. She speaks about working with Vietnamese nationals, not knowing who was with the Viet Cong and who was civilian, and concerns about nationals aligned with the VC creating or using the tunnels and trap doors that ran under the camp to lay booby traps using grenades; poisoning toothpaste, food, or drink; stealing medical supplies; and having a Vietnamese woman steal a ring from the pocket of the fatigues hanging in her hooch. Parks tells of being apolitical at the time of the war and still not understanding the point of the war; believing that Americans were in Vietnam to protect the wealth of capitalists; leadership ensuring the camp was unnaturally clean when dignitaries visited; witnessing Charlton Heston interact with the wounded; going to the open-air market; contracting dysentery; the prevalence of parasites in Vietnamese children who were treated; the handling of bodies and amputated limbs; coming under mortar attack; an adjunct who tripped on the duck board when running for the bunker during an attack receiving a scratch and putting himself in for a Purple Heart; talk of the Tet offensive and wanting out before it happened. She tells of her flight home and the poor treatment received in San Francisco; being turned away from the Top of the Mark and having to find a public bathroom to change out of their uniforms to avoid being shunned and denied service; spending three years in Gerseveral; using her GI Bill to go to college at Wake Forest, then UMaine Orono. Text: 43 pp. transcript. Time: 01:28:40.

Listen:

Listen:

Part 1: mfc_na4482_01A
Part 2: mfc_na4482_01B

Disciplines

Military History | Oral History | United States History

Birth date

December 27, 1941

Location

Glen Falls, Warren County, New York

Nation of origin

United States

Home state/Territory

Maine

Ethnicity

European-American

Occupation

Registered nurse; Wildlife biologist; Educator; Photographer

Branch of service

United States. Army

Service Unit

7th Surgical Hospital (MASH); 12th Evacuation Hospital

Dates of service

August 1966-December 1969, Vietnam, October 1966-October 1967

Service entry

Commissioned

Location of Service

Cu Chi, Vietnam

Wars & Conflicts

Vietnam War

Entry Rank

O-1 2nd Lieutenant

Names

“Madame Molly”; Father Peterman; Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller; Anita Bryant; Joey Heatherton; Vic Damone; Charlton Heston; Cardinal Spelman

Locations

Laurel, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Saigon; Mekong Delta; Tan Son Nhut; Cu Chi; Vung Tau; Bangkok; San Francisco; Gerseveral; Wake Forest, North Carolina

Headings

Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Army Nurse Corps; United States. Army field hospital units; Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals; Dating; Sex; Theft; Black market; Rest and recreation; Booby traps; Mass casualties; Triage (Medicine); United Service Organizations (United States.); Dark humor; Sex workers; Dysentery; Medical Civic Assistance Program (MEDCAP); Mefloquine; Anti-war Protesters

Collection name

Maine Vietnam Veterans Oral History

Rights and Access Note

This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. In addition, no permission is required from the rights-holder(s) for non-commercial uses. For other uses, you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). For more information, contact Special Collections.


Disasters Expo USA, is proud to be supported by Inergency for their next upcoming edition on March 6th & 7th 2024!

The leading event mitigating the world’s most costly disasters is returning to the Miami Beach

Convention Center and we want you to join us at the industry’s central platform for emergency management professionals.
Disasters Expo USA is proud to provide a central platform for the industry to connect and
engage with the industry’s leading professionals to better prepare, protect, prevent, respond
and recover from the disasters of today.
Hosting a dedicated platform for the convergence of disaster risk reduction, the keynote line up for Disasters Expo USA 2024 will provide an insight into successful case studies and
programs to accurately prepare for disasters. Featuring sessions from the likes of The Federal Emergency Management Agency,
NASA, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, TSA and several more this event is certainly providing you with the knowledge
required to prepare, respond and recover to disasters.
With over 50 hours worth of unmissable content, exciting new features such as their Disaster
Resilience Roundtable, Emergency Response Live, an Immersive Hurricane Simulation and
much more over just two days, you are guaranteed to gain an all-encompassing insight into
the industry to tackle the challenges of disasters.
By uniting global disaster risk management experts, well experienced emergency
responders and the leading innovators from the world, the event is the hub of the solutions
that provide attendees with tools that they can use to protect the communities and mitigate
the damage from disasters.
Tickets for the event are $119, but we have been given the promo code: HUGI100 that will
enable you to attend the event for FREE!

So don’t miss out and register today: https://shorturl.at/aikrW

And in case you missed it, here is our ultimate road trip playlist is the perfect mix of podcasts, and hidden gems that will keep you energized for the entire journey

-

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More