About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for "Remembering Vietnam: Medics, Corpsmen, and Nurses"

Good evening, and welcome to the William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives for tonight’s discussion on “Medics, Corpsmen, and Nurses in Vietnam,” presented in partnership with the National Library of Medicine. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and I pleased that you can be with us, whether you are here in the theater or joining us through YouTube.

We are honored to have such a distinguished panel tonight —

  • Dr. Dale Smith, professor of Military Medicine and History at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, who will moderate the discussion
  • Retired Colonel Merle Snyder, who served in Vietnam with the 45th Medical Company as a DUSTOFF helicopter pilot
  • Retired Major General Donna Barbisch, who served in Vietnam as an Army nurse at the 91st Evac Hospital
  • Dr. Tom Berger, who served in Vietnam Navy Corpsman with the 3rd Marine Corps Division 3rd Recon Battalion
  • and Retired Colonel Donald Hall, a veteran of the Gulf War and a medical support historian


Tonight’s discussion is part of a series of discussions, film programs, lectures, and other events related to the “Remembering Vietnam” exhibit upstairs in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery.

I hope you will be able to return on Tuesday, May 1, at noon for a program that will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Marines’ victory at the Battle of Dai Do. Between April 30 and May 2, 1968, U.S. Marines of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment (known as “The Magnificent Bastards”) engaged the North Vietnamese Army at Dai Do. Outnumbered three to one, the Marines ultimately prevailed in one of the most significant victories of the war. Retired Brigadier General William “Wild Bill” Weise, commander of the battalion, will moderate a discussion with veterans of the conflict.

To learn more about these and all of our public programs and exhibits, consult our monthly Calendar of Events online at Archives.gov. Check our website or sign up at the table outside the theater to get email updates. You’ll also find information about other National Archives programs and activities.

Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the National Archives Foundation. The Foundation supports the work of the agency, especially its education and outreach programs. Pick up your application for membership in the lobby or become a member online at archivesfoundation.org.

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Now I ask all Vietnam veterans or any United States veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time during the period of November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, to stand and be recognized.

 Veterans, as you exit the McGowan Theater after tonight’s program, National Archives staff and volunteers will present each of you with the Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin. On the back of the pin is embossed:

“A Grateful Nation Thanks and Honors You.”

The United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration is a national initiative, and the lapel pin is the nation’s lasting memento of thanks.

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As I mentioned earlier, this program is related to our special exhibit, “Remembering Vietnam.” For this exhibit our curatorial staff combed through National Archives records here and across the country to find the documents that tell the stories recounted in the 12 episodes of the exhibit. These records came in many forms—typed reports, photographs, audio recordings, motion picture film and videotapes, and artifacts.

“Remembering Vietnam” traces the long arc of the war—from the decisions that led to increased American involvement to the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. But it also brings us face to face with individual stories of the people who lived, fought, and died in Vietnam.

Often when we hear tales of war, the narrator will conclude with the end of the battle. But for the wounded soldiers, sailors, and marines, their stories are not over but beginning a new chapter of treatment and recovery. And the medics, corpsman, and nurses who tend to them where they fall, or in field hospitals, or aboard hospital ships guide them through this next, often uncertain, phase.

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As I mentioned earlier, our partner for tonight’s program is the National Library of Medicine, and I would like to thank them for all of their assistance in putting together this discussion. Now, it’s my pleasure to introduce Jerry Sheehan, Deputy Director of the N-L-M, where he shares responsibility with the Director for overall program development, program evaluation, policy formulation, direction, and coordination of all Library activities. Please welcome Jerry Sheehan.

Thank you, Jerry.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome tonight’s moderator, Dr. Dale Smith, and our distinguished panel to the stage.