Vietnam Women Veterans
Stories from Vietnam Women Veterans Living in the East Valley as told by CGCC Students in partnership with Chandler Museum's Public History Program
What was it like to be a woman during the Korean War/ Vietnam War?

Narrator: Shirley Heckard
Interviewed by: Kristin Sowden
KS: What was it like to be a woman during the Korean War? Did you face any obstacles? 
SH: There were always people that critiqued us. They'd look at us and make snide remarks, or some of the men Marines would go, "How do the big guns go BAM BAM." And I'd say, "What does that stand for, Beautiful American Marine?" Yeah, but they don't do that anymore. One of the commanders came out and he said, "I don't want you calling them BAMS!" [Slams fist] "That's it, that's an order!" that came from the top. But we're certainly accepted a lot more now.
KS: Did you feel underappreciated as a woman or did you feel underappreciated as a Marine? 
SH: Well, no but I think today they have it a lot rougher than we did. 'Cause they still don't want to put women on the front lines, but everything is a front line now. It doesn't matter where you are. So I think we're appreciated now, more because then we were relieving a man to fight.
Narrator: Shirley Vega
Interviewed by: Delia Gallegos
DG: What was it like to be a woman during Vietnam?  
SV: Well, I think was a confusing time for the country.  But I signed up to do a job and I felt that doing it was important to me.  Probably, it did not mean anything but it was important to me.  It was a sad time when people were going over there and getting killed.  It was very sad, and I think it really hit harder once I got out of the military, and my husband went to Vietnam.  That was the first time that television came in to play, and they were there shooting footage and showing on TV actual fighting.  You didn't know if you were watching your husband right there getting shot or killed.  Sometimes we did not get mail for 45 days, then I would get a stack of letters.  It was a very stressful time dealing with that. To see those guys come home being spit on and ridiculed because they did their job.  Then the American people treated them like shit-- it was horrible.

Photos courtesy of the families.

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Shirley Heckard, September 2005

Shirley Vega