Glenna Goodacre eventually won the commission. Her sculpture of three nurses with a wounded soldier now stands near the Vietnam Wall in Washington, DC.
(Photo: "La VN Rose;" portion of Women's Memorial on the 10th anniversary of the memorial's dedication, Veteran's Day, 2003.)
Annie suffered a fatal stroke at the Wolfhound reunion in Kentucky on September 2, 2007.
Ironically, former 12th Evac nurse Donna (Perlinger) Johnson and her husband saw the ambulance and recognized Annie. Donna, who had worked with Annie in Vietnam in 1967, accompanied her to the hospital. She made the decision to take Annie off life support and remained with her until she died.
(Photo: "Cheers, Annie," 25th Infantry Division/12th Evac reunion, Hawaii, 2006)
Another view of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, DC, on the 10th anniversary of its dedication, Veteran's Day, 2003.
(Photo: "We Remember")
MG (Ret.) Andy Anderson, President of the 25th Infantry Division Association, asked Annie to unveil the statue of the Vietnam soldier in sculptor Lynn Weiler Liverton's Schofield Barracks Memorial Project.
The memorial features four bronze figures honoring the 25th Infanty Division soldiers who fought in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Photo: Annie unveiling the Vietnam soldier statue, one of four in the Schofield Project, Hawaii, September 30, 2006.)
Banner photos above: A Visit from Santa, 12th Evacuation Hospital, Cu Chi, Vietnam, Christmas 1966 (left); Pat Wojdag (Coté), 7th Surgical Hospital (MASH), Cu Chi, Vietnam, 1966; Rocket's Red Glare, portion of the Vietnam Women's Memorial, Washington, DC, USA). All photographs © 2013 by Beth Parks, Ed.D. (All rights reserved.)
Key players share a celebratory moment at the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, DC, on Veteran's Day, 2003.
(Photo: Sculptor Glenna Goodacre (left), Vietnam Women's Memorial founder Diane Carlson Evans, and project architect George Dickey)
Diane Carlson Evans telephoned Annie in the mid-1980s to ask her to help with the Vietnam Women's Memorial effort. Annie declined, saying "I don't do Vietnam." She took on the task, however, and later convinced Santa Fe sculptor Glenna Goodacre to submit an entry for the sculpture.
(Photo: "Annie" courtesy of Diane Carlson Evans)
Annie convinced many former 12th Evac nurses, including me, to become involved with reunions and the Vietnam Women's Memorial. The 12th Evac honored her for her many achievements on behalf of the hospital by including her in James Davis Nelson's oil painting, 12th Evac, Cu Chi, RVN, 1966-1970.
Annie and I were chosen to unveil the painting at the 12th Evac reunion in San Antonio, Texas, in 2004.
(Photo: James Davis Nelson's painting of the 12th Evac OR. Beth standing at left, Annie seated.)
No description of the 12th Evacuation Hospital would be complete without mentioning Annie Cunningham. As Diane Carlson Evans, Founder of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation, put it: "Annie was one of the most loved and dedicated women veterans of the Vietnam era."
2LT Annie came to the 12th Evac in the spring of 1967 as an OR nurse after first serving with the 36th Evacuation Hospital in Vung Tau. She was a welcome and cheerful addition to the 12th Evac operating room and became a valued team member.
(Photo: Annie Cunningham; courtesy of Diane Carlson Evans)
Later in the year, Annie fell in love with 1LT Gary Jones, a 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry Wolfhound with the 25th Infantry Division. They made plans to marry upon their return to the States, even arranging to have a Wolfhound chaplain perform the ceremony.
Gary was promoted to a desk job, but he went out in the field during the infamous 1968 Tet Offensive when one of his men sprained an ankle jumping from a helicopter. Gary was shot in the head and killed by a sniper while Annie was dealing with casualties at work. Their mutual friend, Steve Ehart, identified Gary's body and broke the news to Annie in the operating room.
Annie never got over Gary. When she returned to the States, she was assigned to Ft. Lee, Virginia. Her roommate and official mentor was Diane Carlson (Evans). Diane was sent to Vietnam shortly thereafter.
Annie was sent back to Vietnam 1n 1969, where she served another year with the 18th Surgical Hospital in Quang Tri. "The Army never should have done that to me," she later told me. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) plagued her for the rest of her life.
Annie went on to live and work in California and Virginia, and she became a vocal proponent of Vietnam veterans. She took on numerous leadership roles and received recognition for her outstanding achievements.
(Photo: Annie speaking to crowd at the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam Women's Memorial, Veteran's Day, 2003.)
COL (Ret.) Steve Ehart, the 2/27 Wolfhound who had identified Gary Jones' body in Vietnam and broken the news to Annie in the 12th Evac OR, played a final, crucial role. Steve headed a nationwide team of Annie's friends and colleagues to organize her memorial service in Virginia.
Here's a real piece of irony. Chaplain (Ret.) Carter Tucker, who was to have performed Gary and Annie's wedding ceremony and had conducted Gary's memorial service in 1968, presided over Annie's memorial nearly 40 years later.
MG (Ret.) Andy Anderson, who was wounded in Vietnam and treated at the 12th Evac, believed that Annie wonderfully represented all Vietnam nurses. General Anderson drove long hours to speak at her service.
(Photo: COL (Ret.) Steve Ehart, a 2/27 Wolfhound and Annie's longtime friend, speaks to the crowd at Annie's memorial. The service was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, on October 6, 2007.)
Copyright © Beth Parks. All rights reserved.