Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Jeanne A. Urbin Markle. Jeanne served in the Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1967.
Jeanne was born in October 1943 in a small town of 400 people in Northern Indiana. “Like most small towns” Jeanne explained, “all teenagers went to leave small towns and so my aim was always to go out and see the world.” Jeanne attended nurses training at Saint Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette, Indiana where she met Army recruiters during her junior year. She soon enlisted in the Army with two of her friends. While her father was proud, her mother initially feared Jeanne’s decision to enlist. “She at that time, you know, lived through the Depression,” Jeanne said of her mother. “You would think, the Victorian age; good girls did not join the service, but my father talked her into it and let me do it.”
In December 1965, Jeanne was sworn in as a second lieutenant and sent for seven weeks of training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. She soon received orders to serve as an Army Nurse at Fort Carson, Colorado where she met her husband, Brian. Both were given orders to go to Vietnam in late 1965, and soon they were landing at the Tan Son Nhut Air Force base. The base was under attack as their plane landed and Jeanne recalled thinking “What am I getting into, you know, why did I do this? But you don’t think you’re going to be harmed. You don’t think you’re going to die.”
Within a week of her arrival, the “Big Red One” or First Infantry Division landed and 50,000 troops were soon at war with 25 to 30 casualties per day. Jeanne was in charge of 33 beds in her ward at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital. She regularly worked 12-hour shifts as the single nurse on duty. Of her patients, Jeanne remembered that they “were 17, 18, 19, 20-year-old boys and they were just as scared as I was.” She fondly recalled their camaraderie in the hospital wards, as “they didn’t know what unit they were from, but it was all just wonderful how they took care of each other.”
Jeanne left the service in August 1967. Of her interview with the Veterans History Project, Jeanne and her husband Brian said, “Brian and I were honored to tell our Vietnam story for the Veterans History Project. Our reflections of our war stories, mine as an Army nurse in Vietnam and his two tours in Vietnam plus his service in the Gulf War, have made it possible to preserve our living history voices for our children and all future generations.”
Jeanne passed away at the age of 66 in 2009. We honor her service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Garek Stanley and Leah Comins contributed to this story.