Frances Buckley


Frances Buckley who was born February 26, 1929

War: Korean War, 1950-1953; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

Branch: Navy Nurse Corps-  established by congress. In Korea they opened a hospital in Yokosuka. The nurses worked in hospitals and on ships. Took care of battle casualities and aids in invasions and evacuations. Mobile Hospitals. In Vietnam turned a run-down apartment into a Us Navy hospital. This war was the first one that the nurses got injured. During intense fighting served on helicopter admissions. The hospital they opened became the largest combat casualty treatment facility in the world ( with 600 beds and 63000 patients).

Rank: Rear Admiral


She graduated from college in June of 1950 and went to work in Manhattan in a medical center. That was the time that the Korean War started, and they put on the bulletin board that there was a plan to draft nurses. They needed to draft 45,000 nurses, and at first her and another nurse wanted to be drafted. She told the Marines that she was interested in joining the military as a nurse. And since the Navy nurses take care of the Marines, the Marines just told her to go down to the Navy recruiter--nurse recruiter. And that's how she ended up in the Navy. She didn't really have a plan, whether is was going to be the Army, the Air Force, or the Navy. But that's how I ended up to the Navy.

       DURING WAR:

     In July of '51, they immediately assigned her to wards. In the afternoons, she had classes on military discipline and things of that sort. Since she had gone to a catholic college and nursing program where there was considerably more discipline than the military, it was not a problem for her. She took care of patients who were casualties from Korea, frostbite, gunshot wounds and things of that sort. After the Korean War she went back to school at the University of Chicago for post-graduate work (and operating room management). She also got her masters at DePaul University. Then she went back to active duty. She worked in in the operating room in St. Albans, New York for two years. From there, she went to Roda, Spain, for two years. She came back to Virginia as a recruiter for about three years, and was stationed in Richmond, and covered the territories of Kentucky, Virginia, and part of North Carolina, and part of Indiana. And then from there, she went to Vietnam, where she was an operating supervisor on the hospital ship. Although she traveled a lot, it was a great learning experience for her. She was responsible for the operating room and the recovery room.


Served on a hospital ship off the coast of Vietnam in 1968 and conditions in a hospital ship operating room were chaotic: often, patients had multiple wounds requiring several surgical teams to work on them simultaneously. While much of her job focused on logistics, she was also deeply affected by the patients that she treated—and sometimes lost. Being such an amazing and loving women, after the war, she continued her career in military nursing, eventually serving as Director of the Navy Nurse Corps from 1979 to 1983.


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