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A counter narrative from inside Vietnam

Marjorie Nelson, 1941-

Marjorie Nelson worked as a doctor in Vietnam and witnessed first hand the tolls of war on both sides. Photo: AFSC

An Earlham College graduate born in Indiana to Quaker parents, Marjorie Nelson worked at a clinic in Vietnam during the war, offering physical and occupational therapy, a prosthetics workshop, and day care for refugee children. In January of 1968, while visiting her friend Sandra for a much-needed break, both young women were caught in the U.S. bombing of Hanoi and were taken by Vietnamese soldiers into a mountainous prison camp. On March 31, the two women were released, after surviving several days’ brutal journey through the jungle.

Despite U.S. headlines reading “Viet Cong Agree to Free 2 Captured U.S. Women,” outlining the inhumane capture and treatment of the two American women, Marjorie returned to report a different experience: “Almost everyone I met has been both kind and friendly to me.” In a statement broadcast over Hanoi radio, Marjorie went on to say that “the NFL Forces believe that GI’s in Vietnam are also victims of the U.S. Government’s policy in Vietnam. In my work at the Quang Ngai Hospital I was daily confronted with patients who had been wounded, had lost arms or legs because of the war.”

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