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Vietnam War nurse visits Montana Military Museum, reflects on her service

Diane Carlson Evans
Posted at 9:00 AM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-28 11:00:18-04

HELENA — For Women's History Month, the Montana Military Museum added more details and artifacts to their Vietnam War exhibit to honor women who have served during war. In front of the exhibit showcases a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.

In Washington D.C., there is a memorial of three women caring for a fallen soldier. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is to honor all women who served different roles in the Vietnam War. The half-sized replica of the memorial is loaned by the Vietnam nurse that brought it all together, Diane Carlson Evans.

"There's a lot of stereotypes, there's a lot of myths about war time and a lot of hidden stories that need to surface that really tell the story about that service in that war and the best people to do that are those who are there," says Evans.

Evans served from 1968-1969 in the Vietnam War as a chief nurse in an evacuation hospital. The Montana Military Museum detailed her story in front of their Vietnam War exhibit. It says after many years from her military service, Evans noticed that there were over 100 war memorials, but not one depicted a woman. Thus began a 10-year battle for a memorial to honor women of the Vietnam War.

“In Vietnam, we never gave up on a soldier ever. We just didn't and I didn't give up on my patients, my casualties in Vietnam,” says Evans. “And when I set out to honor and remember the women who had helped care for those casualties, I wasn't going to give in and I wasn't going to give up to the people who wanted to push us back and keep us down and not allow us women to have a place at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial"

In 1993, Evans witnessed the unveiling of the Vietnam Women's Memorial. She now resides in Montana and still participates within the veterans community. Evans donated many artifacts to the museum and says she always enjoys telling her story to inspire future generations.

"Being a nurse in Vietnam was the greatest privilege of my life. It was a privilege to have served and to be one of the people who is there to care for our casualties, our wounded soldiers and because I felt so strongly about that it's why I work so hard to honor the women who felt like I did," says Evans

Evans and her story will be featured in the 2021’s Memorial Day Concert series. If you wish to learn more before then, she recently published a book detailing her 10-year fight for the Vietnam Women's Memorial.