War author and correspondent Joseph Galloway (L) and his wife Grace Galloway (R) stand at the Vietnam Memorial wall in in Washington looking at Panel…A Reporter Looks Back: Vietnam Veterans From 1975 Until 2020
Category: Vietnam War
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate had this to say.
Combining narrative and poetry, photos and documents, Lou Eisenbrandt’s Vietnam Nurse tells the compelling story of how a Midwestern woman, born with a little wanderlust and a lot of courage, found herself serving as a nurse in Vietnam during some of the most dangerous and damaging stretches of the war in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During her service, Eisenbrandt encounters life-changing stories, most notably her own, as she writes in one of her poems, that spark “Songs of love and loss, of sweat-drenched nights and blood-smeared days.” Since the war and through her many return journeys to Vietnam, Eisenbrandt shows us her deepening commitment to service, widening search for truth, and enduring creation of a life that matters.
A bit more about the author
Lou grew up in a small Illinois town and decided to join the Army to “see the world.” After graduating as a Registered Nurse in June 1968, she went on to attend basic training, then headed to Ft. Dix New Jersey, her first duty assignment.
Then, in September 1969, Lou received orders to go to Vietnam, arriving there on November 1. During her year at the 91st Evac Hospital, she cared for GIs, South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians, even Viet Cong and NVA soldiers. From malaria and hepatitis to double amputees, massive head traumas, and deadly bullet wounds, Lou Eisenbrandt saw it all.
Since 1970, she had made 4 return trips to Vietnam, the most recent one being in September 2014, when she joined 11 other vets making their first return trip to the country.
She is Chairman Emeritus of the board of Turning Point in Leawood, KS. Her other interests are travel, photography, golf, gardening, and finding a cure for Parkinson’s Disease, which she battles due to exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.
My thoughts …
First, I found the book to be a quick, compelling, and enjoyable read. I liked the author’s style and the way she kept it light and managed to find humor is some pretty tough situations. I smiled and even chuckled at some of the memories she shared and learned some interesting little tidbits. For example, in reading about the Vietnam War over the years, I had never come across the acronym “LRB” before! Picturing the grinning South Vietnamese fishermen in their little round boats being towed like water skiers made me smile.
Several reviewers seemed disappointed and gave this book poor reviews. However, I think they missed the boat. It seemed to me that they wanted bloody, exacting details of assisting in operations on severely wounded GI’s or cowering fearfully in a bunker during a rocket attack. But this book was not about that. They should go back and read the subtitle. This book was about Lou Eisenbrandt and her memories and healing process. And I think she shared that pretty well.
And, so did the Military Writers Society of America, which gave it a Silver Medal Award.
That being said, I do wish the author had included a bit more detail here and there. I would have liked the book to be a little longer; it left me wanting more.
To those willing to look, I think this book presents a clear window into the author’s experiences as a nurse during the Vietnamese conflict. And, sadly, it is a story that is seldom told. This is a good read. I give it 4 out of 5 Stars.
To the combat veteran, nurses like Lou Eisenbrandt will always be seen as angels of mercy. So personally, I wish to say to Lou, thank you for your service.
I have counted several Vietnam Veterans among my closest friends. Sadly, several are no longer with us. Please remember our Vietnam Veterans today as you go about living your daily lives.
They sent me
and my friends
and my generation
To Vietnam to die
and some of us did.
The rest of us have been dying
in bits and pieces
since the first day they sent us
This article originally appeared on the FB Group page: Vietnam War – U.S. Military, and posted by Raymond D. Hannan. I found this article on CHERRIESWRITER – VIETNAM WAR WEBSITE and had to share it with my readers.
To the soldier in combat, nurses are truly Angel’s of Mercy.
According to this story, eight nurses gave their lives in Vietnam, taking care of the sick and wounded. They cared for our military personnel as well as those of our enemy.
Lou Eisenbrandt is one of those nurses who came home and shared her story in her book Vietnam Nurse: Mending and Remembering. I am going to have to add her book to my reading list. Click here to see her book on Amazon.com.
Here are a few excerpts from the article. To read the whole article, click on the CHERRIESWRITER – VIETNAM WAR WEBSITE here or the link above.
From her own words during the presentation: “I have Parkinson’s from exposure to Agent Orange, so I’ve instructed my body to remain still. If I do a Michael J. Fox, please forgive me, but I can’t help it. I’m also not using a laser pointer because the laser would be all over the place.”
“I spent nine months at Ft. Dix, which was a good thing. Some nurses were sent straight from nursing school to Vietnam. Ft. Dix was interesting to say the least. They even had a stockade section, and I had to check daily for improvised weapons. One prisoner escaped, but not on my shift. I usually cared for the soldiers with upper respiratory infections, at one point over 300 soldiers. We also had the fatties and skinnies. If too fat, we put them on diets; if too skinny, they got milkshakes. Oddly, they put these guys in the same ward. The skinnies stayed skinny because the fatties drank all the milkshakes. Before the year was out I received a manila envelope; ‘Congratulations, you’re going to Vietnam.’ Not the travel I expected.”
“I loved flying on the choppers since I was an avid photographer. Great region for photos, but I never took photos of casualties. Chopper pilots are, well, different. They loved to party. I spent my first three months in a medical ward treating non-combat related problems, like hepatitis and malaria, even jungle rot. By the way, the Officer’s Club was built on the edge of a cliff. We consumed a ‘slight’ amount of alcohol in there.”
“One time after their village was hit, we had 99 Vietnamese civilians to care for within a 24-hour period. When wounded Vietnamese came in, so did the whole family. We also had Vietnamese nurses. They really helped due to culture differences.”
“We waterskied but with parameters, like never going out after 1 p.m. because that was when sharks arrived. We used a Jeep to pull the boat, but I have no idea where the Jeep and boat and skis came from. There were local fishermen in LRBs, Little Round Boats, who would wave at us until we threw them a tow rope and pulled them along. They loved it.”
“You tried to be detached from the suffering, but I had an attachment to a young lieutenant who came in with his men. His unit took heavy casualties and he wanted to be with them, to see them through their ordeal. Next time it was him, peppered full of shrapnel. We were told he would lose both legs. That’s one of the few times I had to walk out of the emergency room. It rattled me. We saved his legs, but I’ve seen him since returning home. His legs are not of much use; he’s another boy I think about every day.”
I just have a feeling this will be a really great read.
So, I have ordered a copy. I will let you know how it turns out.
The Green Berets
As a young boy, one of my favorite John Wayne movies was The Green Berets. FIlmed in 1967 – 68, the movie was loosely based on a 1965 novel by Robin Moore.
The film was released at the height of American involvement in the Vietnam War and the same year of the Tet Offensive. The Green Berets is strongly pro-South Vietnam and anti-communist. John Wayne was deeply concerned by the anti-war sentiment in the United States and wanted to make a film to showcase the pro-military point of view.
The film was hammered by the critics (no surprise, given the sentiment of the times), but was a huge financial success.
A pleasant surprise
A friend and former colleague stopped by for a short visit the other day and handed me this book. He’d been in Winston-Salem and found it in a used bookstore. He picked it up, thinking I would enjoy it.
A Special Breed of Man
A NOVEL BY ED EDELL
The copy I have is from the second printing in July of 1985 and is signed by the author. It was published by Ranger Associates, Inc. I did a little digging and the book is available on Amazon and through AbeBooks.
I have not read this book yet (I have to finish up Leora’s Letters first, and these days, I don’t have as much time to read as I would like), but A Special Breed of Man does come with some very high powered praise!
Thanks from all the Vietnam Soldiers for A Special Breed of Man … it is a fascinating book , and gets me up-tight for hours after reading certain parts.William A. (Billy) Connelly, Sargent Major of the Army
… brought back memories of experiences I shared with superb soldiers. It also rekindled the spirit of sacrifice which Americans have tended to forget – or ignore … an excellent piece of work.E.C. Meyer, General, U.S. Army
… has become a conversation piece … All favorable! I am not surprised at its popularity. Americans are indeed proud of their country and the men who keep it free!Llyle J. Barker, Major General, U.S. Army, Retired
… resurrects the lessons of those conflagrations and the spirit of heroism that inspired so many to sacrifice so much in the defense of freedom.Mark W. Clark, General, U.S. Army, Retired
My sincere thanks for all your have done for the Airborne and the Airborne troops. All the way.James J Lindsay, Lieutenant General, U.S. Army Commander, XVIII Airborne Corps
How’s that for some top-level praise. I will post a book review here just as soon as I get it read. So many great books, so little time.
By the way, Montagnard (the sequel to Serpents Underfoot) is now entering into the Beta reading phase with five Beta readers. Once that process is complete, it will go to the editor for a final edit. I plan to release the book in late summer! Stay tuned!