Not Just Pretty Faces - The Women of the Vietnam War

The Vietnam Center and Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive Celebrates Women's History Month: Not Just Pretty Faces - The Women of the Vietnam War

There is no exact number available for the women who served in Vietnam. Estimates range from 4,000 to 15,000. Women were represented in all military branches, but over 90% served as nurses. Some served as nurses in evacuation hospitals, MASH units and aboard hospital ships. Others worked in support roles in military information offices, headquarters, service clubs, and various other clerical, medical, and personnel positions. Servicewomen in Vietnam experienced many of the same hardships as their male counterparts and served bravely in dangerous situations. Many were awarded citations ranging from unit awards to Purple Hearts. Eight US servicewomen were killed, and their sacrifice is memorialized on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, "The Wall," in Washington D.C.

Non-military women also served important roles. They provided entertainment and support to the troops through the USO, the American Red Cross, and other humanitarian organizations. Women working as civilian nurses for USAID (US Agency for International Development) participated in one of the most famous humanitarian operations of the war, Operation Babylift, which brought thousands of Vietnamese orphans to the US for adoption. Additionally, many women reported the war for news and media agencies. The number of civilian women killed in Vietnam is unknown.