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Alumna reflects on life spent in military and Vietnam

Kay Wilhelmy Bauer '59 (left) spoke at the book launch of "Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam." Also pictured: Kim Heikkila, author of the book and adjunct instructor.
Kay Wilhelmy Bauer '59 (left) spoke at the book launch of "Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam." Also pictured: Kim Heikkila, author of the book and adjunct instructor.
Efong Chang '13

Kay Wilhelmy Bauer ’59 considers herself an accidental nurse, having originally studied elementary and secondary education. One seemingly simple change in her college major resulted in a 35-year career as a Navy nurse, including a one-year tour of duty on a surgical team in Rach Gia, Vietnam.

Bauer is one of 15 Minnesota nurses featured in Sisterhood of War: Minnesota Women in Vietnam, a new book written by Kim Heikkila, adjunct instructor in the history department at St. Catherine University. Based on oral history interviews, the book follows the women’s stories from their decision to become nurses and join the military, to their time in the war zone, to their postwar struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their campaign to build the Vietnam  Women’s War memorial in Washington, D.C.

“The book is not a history of nursing or the military per se, but instead the story of an inspirational group of military nurses who served their country during a difficult time,” says Heikkila.

The audio podcast captures an in-depth audio interview with Bauer:

If you have trouble listening to the podcast above, listen here.

Oct. 12, 2011 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Alumnae/i, Healthcare, Social Justice