*EPF410  07/29/93 *


(JCS Chairman Colin Powell chairs groundbreaking)  (680)

By John A. Miller

USIA Staff Writer

Washington -- General Colin Powell described the Vietnam War Women's

Memorial as "nine years in the making and 20 years in the needing."  It is

Washington's first memorial specifically honoring military service by

America's women.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff joined Senators John Warner

(Republican of Virginia), John Kerry (Democrat of Massachusetts), Strom

Thurmond (Republican of South Carolina), other congressmen, military and

civilian dignitaries July 29 to break ground for the memorial honoring the

women who served during the Vietnam War.  Former Secretary of Defense

Melvin Laird and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral

William Crowe also were there to honor their female colleagues.

The statue honoring the women will stand near a statue of three infantrymen

and across from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which lists eight names

of women killed during the Vietnam War.

Powell described the women veteran's service as "invisible," too often

ignored.  "I knew you as nurses, but I didn't know you well

enough" -- your "nightmares, poems and experiences," he added.  In his

1peech, Powell also alluded to their stoic waiting for battle and the

unrelenting pain of loss afterwards, risking feelings and compassion on

someone they might soon lose to the silence of death.  This is also

suggested by a woman depicted in the statue clutching an empty helmet.

According to a statement issued by the Vietnam Women's Memorial Project

(VWMP), a non-profit organization incorporated in 1984 in Washington, its

objectives are to identify the women who served during the war, to educate

the nation about their contributions and to sponsor the memorial.  The

project has the support of every major veterans group in the country.

So far only 9,000 women veterans have been located by the VWMP.  Their

stories and experiences will form a history the project plans to contribute

to the Library of Congress.  Silent no more, according to the VWMP, women

veterans have a special role in discussions concerning U.S. military

involvement abroad, the role of women in the military and veterans


Approximately 11,000 American military women, nearly all volunteers, were

stationed in Vietnam during the war.  Ninety percent were nurses in the

Army, Navy, and Air Force.  Others served as physicians, physical

therapists, air traffic controllers, communications specialists,

intelligence and adminstrative personnel.  Because of the nature of the

guerilla warfare waged throughout the long years of the Vietnam War, many

women were in the midst of the conflict, often caught in the crossfire of

battles raging right around them.

It is estimated that approximately 265,000 military women served worldwide

during the Vietnam War.  Thousands of women served in Japan, Guam, the

Philippines and Hawaii.  Navy women served aboard the USS Repose and the

USS Sanctuary, hospital ships stationed off the coast of South Vietnam.

Air Force nurses served both in Vietnam and on air evacuation missions.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, a congratulatory message was read from

fellow Vietnam veterans in Australia.

An unknown number of civilian women also served in Vietnam as news

correspondents and workers for the Red Cross, the USO, Special Services,

the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Relief Services and other

humanitarian organizations.  Like their military counterparts, many of

these women were wounded in the crossfire.  An estimated 20 civilian

American women were killed in Vietnam.

The bronze memorial, standing 6 feet, 8 inches high, is a triangular

composition of four figures, a bent female, a male supine attended by a

nurse and a standing woman at the apex.

During August and September the Vietnam Women's Memorial Statue will travel

by truck from the sudio of its sculptor, Glenna Goodacre, in Santa Fe, New

Mexico to Washington D.C.  It will stop in 21 cities along the way.  The

memorial will be dedicated on November 11, Veteran's Day, 11 years to the

day after the memorial wall to the Vietnam War was opened.