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The Colonel is a Lady: Le Grand Dame of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Paperback – April 1, 2011
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The Colonel Is A Lady, Beverly Thompson, Paper, 171 pages, appendix,
Before describing this wonderful book let me admit that i'm completely biased toward it. The subject, the lovely lady colonel is my distant cousin, Evangeline Jamison who died recently in Concord, CA. I knew this beloved lady all my life, first distantly but after I got out of the Army, well. Toward the end I came to appreciate and love her dearly.
The Colonel Is A Lady is a story about my cousin Evangeline Jamison who lived a dramatic and important life, who influenced thousands of young soldiers and nurses over her career and by the time of her death in 2013, commanded the respect of people across the US. It's written by Beverly Thompson who came to know Evangeline well after Evangeline had retired from the Army. Beverly saw a woman of great respect, and indomitable will. Evangeline spent a full ten years of her life after her Army career organizing, pushing, speaking, traveling on her own money, encouraging a battalion of other high ranking military officers and regular, retired nurses to get behind and together create the Nurses Statue near the Vietnam Wall. Evangeline had a spirit so humble and loving as to inspire tears. I know all of these facts myself first hand.
Author Beverly Thompson is virtually a cheerleader for her hero Lt. Col Evangeline P. Jamison, who nursed wounded American serviceman through three wars and then spent a full decade afterward pushing a reluctant, torn nation into seeing the wisdom of erecting a Vietnam Women's Memorial Project. I confess I too have come to regard Evangeline as a true hero so I loved every word of the book.
Thompson takes us through Evangeline's life from the her early childhood in Seymour, Iowa to her nursing education in Chicago, her effort to get into the Army as a nurse and then what happened to her during WWII, Korea and Vietnam, each conflict she served in a growing capacity as she rose in rank. We get to know her, her attitude toward life and her talents as they begin to express themselves. As far as I knew as a small child, Evangeline was the jolly and fun woman who came to visit my family every so often as I grew up. I was not especially close to her as a child but after I got out of the Army I spent time with her in her home in Northern California and met her brother Bert and his children. I visited her in Concord, California years later when she told me that when she was debating retiring from the Army, her superiors told her if she accepted a promotion to full bird colonel and spent one more year at a certain base in the south west of the US, she would be nominated for her first star. She would be a Brigadier General in the US Army Nurse Corps. Evangeline by then had spent a full quarter of a century in uniform and learned that the south western base would have been intolerable to her mother's health. Her mother had been living with her since her father died years earlier. This is why she retired as a lieutenant colonel instead of a brigadier general.
The author describes where Evangeline was based, how her talents were developed as a nurse and Army officer and her one big romance with a pilot during WWII. Jamie, as many of her colleagues called her, was happy go lucky but very firm in her resolute desire to help soldiers who were in hospitals as a result of war. Jamie was level headed, unflappable and an efficient organizer under pressure, talents which she honed and used to the very end while getting the Vietnam Women's Memorial Stature financed, created and built by the Vietnam Wall in Washington DC. Jamie's life was placed into historical history. For example she was stationed in Australia when General Douglas MacArthur was there before the big Island hopping campaign began. She later knew him in Japan during the Korean War. We are given a wonderfully, clear description of how Jamie's role changed from that of a very young and inexperienced nurse in early WWII to taking command of all nurses on her base and beyond during Vietnam and how her attitude expanded to that of protector of young nurses whose nerves began to shred as twelve hour work days, strewn with bloody soldiers who came in one after another on helicopters and mortars landed very near the wards on a regular basis month after month. This was serious stuff and Jamie calmly took all in hand and taught them how to deal with the psychological sides of being a nurse as well as the physical. With her level head she never forgot the goal, to give soldiers the best treatment possible.
If you are looking for the definitive history of the US Army Nurse Corps during these three wars this is not the book for it. It's a book about one particularly competent and loving human being, Evangeline Jamison, how she developed and eventually earned sincere respect from everyone from Ronald Reagan to Ross Perot and thousands of soldiers, sailors and nurses she helped and guided. Author Beverly Thompson met my cousin Evangeline late in life and came to admire her so much and to agree with her campaign to create the Female Nurse statue in DC that she decided a woman of this stature deserved to be written about. Most of the core facts came from Evangeline's memory, many 30 to 40 years after the fact. The book has 21 pages of black and white pictures which help document Evangeline's heroic life. I admit that I loved Evangeline deeply by the time she died earlier this year and I am therefore in compete agreement with author Thompson's admiring attitude and am delighted and thankful she has written this excellent book.
The Colonel Is A Lady is available at Amazon.com for $9.00.
Written by IL Fettucinni
The Colonel is a Lady: Le Grand Dame of the Vietnam Women's Memorial