Library Catalog - Kentucky Historical Society

Object Record

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Object Name Insignia
Title Woman's Vietnam USN nurse insignia, oak leaf
Catalog Number 2002.27.23
Date ca. 1967
Material(s) Silk; metal;
Dimensions H-1 W-0.625 inches
Description This is a woman's USN Vietnam-era Nurse Corps insignia. The insignia is in the shape of an oak leaf featuring hand-embroidered gold bullion trimmed in black silk and gold silk braid. It has a white felt backing and two stickpins and two stickpin clasps on back.
Notes Martha Davis (b. 5-22-1941) wore this while serving in the USN as a nurse during Vietnam. Martha graduated from UMW Hospital in Harlan, Kentucky in 1962. The hospital was located 12 miles from her house, where she lived with her father, Marcus Ray Davis. Martha asked her dad if she could join the Navy in 1964. He first said no but later changed his mind. Martha joined in the fall of 1964. She had eight weeks of basic training at Newport, RI where she learned how to salute, protocol, uniform regulations and PT but was not allowed to use firearms. Her active duty began in January of 1965 when she was stationed at Jacksonville Naval Air Station as a staff nurse. Here she lived in an apartment off base and her life was much like a civilian's life. She worked primarily with the surgical staff. Her specialty was pediatrics, working with the children of service people. She was stationed at the Air Station until May of 1966 when she was reassigned to Guam. "Every young nurse in the Navy signed up for Vietnam but there wasn't room for us all." In Guam Martha lived in the nurse's dormitory. All American casualties she treated were flown in. She also treated South Vietnamese patients. The hospital was not overrun with patients and it took two to three days for soldiers to arrive at the hospital after being wounded. In 1967 she left Guam and was posted to Jacksonville, NC. Martha's younger brother, Marcus Raymond Davis was in high school at the start of Vietnam and graduated from Morehead in 1968 with a degree in history. He moved to Jacksonville, Florida and began to teach elementary school and was then drafted. According to Martha, "We were not the kind of people who ran off to Canada. We did our share." Marcus was sent to Ft. Campbell for basic training during the winter of 1968-69. He did his airborne training in Georgia and went to Vietnam in 1969. He was killed on April 4th, 1970. (See notepad 2002.27.2 for entire history.)
Collection KHS Museum Collection
Subjects War
Military officers
Military service
Physical Holder Kentucky Historical Society - KHS