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Return to Vietnam

A veteran, his daughter, their journey

A piece of their hearts: Female Vietnam veterans

November
28

I’m a woman, and the daughter of a Vietnam veteran with a long memory (aided by plenty of memorabilia), but I never knew much about the thousands of women who served during the Vietnam War – except for my father’s fond feelings for the female USO entertainers and the morale-boosting powers of pinups – until I attended a heartbreaking performance of “A Piece of My Heart” at Cornell University in 2000.

The characters in that play are based on real women, but they couldn’t possibly have prepared me for the real thing: Kathleen Fennell, one of the 14 Vietnam veterans on our recent journey. She served as an Army nurse in Cu Chi from 1968-1969, and continues to honor the spirit of her fallen sisters through memorials and foundations in America and by working to set up clinics and provide medical care in Vietnam today.

During the memorial service we held between Cu Chi and Tay Ninh earlier this month, Fennell emotionally read the names of the 75 American, Australian and New Zealand women who died during the Vietnam War. They include eight military nurses and dozens of civilians who worked with the American Red Cross, government agencies, journalism outlets and other organizations.

womenmemorial.jpg

Here she is, next to fellow Vietnam veterans Jeffrey Keahon (far left) and Robert Montarro (middle). Play the audio link below to hear Fennell’s portion of the service, and if you haven’t already, click here to read my earlier post with a slideshow from the ceremony.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2007 at 7:42 pm by Nicole Neroulias. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Category: Vietnam veterans, Vietnam veterans

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One Response to “A piece of their hearts: Female Vietnam veterans”

  1. Diane Johnson

    This is an amazing series ..and I truly appreciate the writing and the multitouch experience it provides with audio, video, photojournalistic elements.

    This particular piece – on women’s service was particularly poignant – and I was struck by the classic tribute – filled with a quiet understatement of the heroics witnessed in the field. The audio tribute – which culminates with two seasoned veterans – providing a personal tribute to the amazing character of fellow veteran Annie Cunningham provides only a quiet hint into the amazing character of courage and service she clearly demonstrated. You can hear their testimony of admiration – as they mention her name and her journey of service. I’d never heard of her until I learned about her in this blog…any chance we can get a full feature profile of her? I believe we’ve got an american hero a real trailblazer – who’s story – like so many others from Vietnam – has been only too quietly shared.
    Thanks Nicole for these pieces…keep them coming!!

    http://www.dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP%2FMGArticle%2FCDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173353025566&path=

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About this blog
"Return to Vietnam" chronicles the journey of Col. Andonios Neroulias USA (Ret.) of Briarcliff Manor, NY, joined by his daughter, staff writer Nicole Neroulias, to the country he fought in 40 years ago. They are traveling with Vietnam veterans and Rotarians from Rockland County and other parts of the country. Check this blog for daily posts, photos, recordings and slideshows about their experiences.
About the authors
Nicole and Andonios Neroulias

Nicole Neroulias grew up in Briarcliff Manor, NY, and graduated from Cornell University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has covered religion and city news in Cyprus, Connecticut and California, where she earned several fellowships and prizes, including a national Religion Newswriters Association award. She joined The Journal News in early 2007 and also teaches journalism at Columbia.

Col. Andonios Neroulias emigrated from Greece in 1956 and was commissioned an officer through the ROTC program of the City College of NY. From 1967-68, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Army's 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division, whose main base was in Cu Chi, known for its intricate Viet Cong tunnels. Among his military awards are the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He is retired from the U.S. Army Reserve and lives in Briarcliff Manor, NY.
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