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Nurses: Marita Silverman (Vietnam)

Marita Silverman
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Captain Marita Silverman lighting Shabbat candles in the 95th Evacuation Hospital chapel in Da Nang, Vietnam. Services were held at the chapel every Friday night (January 25, 1971).

Born in Portsmouth, Virginia and raised in Washington, D.C., Marita Silverman graduated form the University of Maryland in 1966 with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. After graduation, Marita joined the Army Nurse Corps and was sent to An Khe, Vietnam in August 1970, where she served as Emergency Room Night Supervisor at the Eighth Field Hospital.

Located in an extremely isolated area, the Eighth Field Hospital was equipped with only 50 beds yet received many casualties on a daily basis, including numerous civilians. Marita's primary mission was to stabilize patients for transfer to larger hospitals along the coastal regions.

By November 1970, the Eighth Field Hospital closed, being ill-equipped to handle the escalation of hostilities. All medical personnel, including Nurse Silverman, were reassigned to other facilities. Marita's new assignment was the 12 hour night shift in a combined Intensive Care Unit and Post Anesthesia Recovery Unit at the 95th Evacuation Hospital at Da Nang. She recalled knowing several Jewish physicians at the hospital, including their Commander, Colonel Weiner.

During the Laos Invasion of February 1971, the casualties at the 95th Evacuation Hospital were extremely heavy. Reflecting on this tragic and intense time, Marita states, "It was an experience that served me well in my subsequent professional life. I learned to do a lot with a little. I learned compassion when there wasn't anything else to be done. I developed an inner strength that has continued to serve me well."

Following her promotion to the rank of captain in 1971, Marita Silverman left the military to attend graduate school, where she received a Master's Degree in pediatric nursing from the University of Arizona in 1972. She currently lives with her husband in Tucson, Arizona.

"On every trip that I make back to Washington, D.C. I am a faithful visitor to the Vietnam Memorial. On my first visit, about a year after the completion, I went with my father and my children. I cried so hard walking through—everything during that year flashed back."

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Nurses: Marita Silverman (Vietnam)." (Viewed on April 24, 2014) <http://jwa.org/discover/infocus/military/nurses/silverman>.