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News | March 28, 2024

Vietnam Women’s Memorial Maquette finds a home at Walter Reed

By Bernard Little, Office of Command Communications

The Vietnam Women’s Memorial Maquette, created by sculptor Glenna Goodacre, has a permanent home now in the Hall of Heroes between the America Building and Buildings 3 and 5 at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) thanks to a generous anonymous donor and assistance from the Walter Reed Society.

U.S. Navy Capt. (Dr.) Melissa Austin, WRNMMC director, joined other dignitaries, including those from the Walter Reed Society, to cut the ribbon for display of the maquette on March 28 at Walter Reed.

“I can’t think of a better place [for the maquette] than in the Hall of Heroes,” said Austin, explaining patients, staff, and visitors will see it daily and recall, reflect, and gain a better understanding and appreciation for the compassionate and dedicated service of those nurses and women who served in the Vietnam War. This legacy continues today with those nurses and women caring for the nation’s heroes and their families at Walter Reed, she added.

Austin said that nurses served on the frontline in Vietnam, establishing themselves as trailblazers for nurses and women in uniform today. Their responsibilities included massive care of casualties involving amputations, wounds, and chest tubes for their patients, air evacuation missions, serving on hospital ships and in MUST units, and working long hours to aid the servicemembers injured in war in military treatment facilities.

Like the Vietnam Women’s Memorial sculpted by Goodacre that is located on the National Mall a short distance south of Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the maquette (which served as her study for the memorial), depicts three uniformed women with a wounded male Soldier, symbolizing the caregiving roles of nurses and women during the war.

The Walter Reed Society provided the pedestal and plaque for the maquette. The plaque states, “This bronze study above and the monumental Vietnam Women’s Memorial located on the National Mall were sculpted by artist Glenna Goodacre. The effort to memorialize the contribution of women in the Vietnam War was envisioned and led by U.S. Army combat nurse Capt. Diane Carlson Evans. This tribute to over 265,000 women who served in the Armed Forces of the United States during the Vietnam War, include 10,000 women – the majority military nurses – who served in the Vietnam theater was placed on the National Mall close to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1993. The bronze study above was provided by a generous anonymous donor with the assistance of the Walter Reed Society.”

“It’s an absolutely beautiful sculpture that gives an accurate [depiction] of what occurred during the war,” Austin said.

Retired Army Col. (Dr.) John R. Pierce, president of the Walter Reed Society, shared that the anonymous donor of the maquette is a Vietnam veteran.

Former president of the Walter Reed Society, retired Army Col. Janet Southby, served during the Vietnam era. She currently sits on the Patient and Family Partnership Council for WRNMMC. She served in uniform from 1965 to 1996, which included duty in Vietnam with the 85th Evacuation Hospital, and her last assignment as chief nurse of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Southby read a message from Diane Carlson Evans, the former Army nurse and Vietnam veteran who founded the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation establishing the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Evans expressed gratitude to the Walter Reed Society for assisting the anonymous donor, enabling the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Maquette to be displayed “in a place of honor” at Walter Reed, also called, “The President’s Hospital.”

Evans added that sculptor Goodacre said in creating the study and memorial, “That my hands can shape the clay which might touch the hearts, and heal the wounds of those who served, fills me with humility and deep satisfaction.”
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