Role Of Women In The Korean War

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Women have always been the backbone to the success in war. Captain Viola McConnell should be recognized for her outstanding contributions to the Korean War. Often women are overlooked for the accomplishments they have done especially in war. Since the beginning of the first war, there have been various opinions on women's influence on the war. Captain Viola is a prime example of why women should be allowed into the military.

The Korean War, or the Forgotten War, was one of the short wars fought. The Korean War was a product of the Cold War and only lasted from 1950-1953. Most of the war was fought in parts of North and South Korea. The total casualties were 39,652. America's involvement in the war was to aid South Korea. South Korea was a part of the United Nations, therefore, America came to the aid of South Korea also, America did not want South Korea to become a communist country. Communist China joins North Korea in the war in November 1950, unleashing a massive Chinese ground attack against American forces. America deplored thousand of soldiers to Korea to help fight the war.

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Women's roles during the Korean war were very limited. Most women were not allowed in on-ground combat. Most females in the war served as nurses. Although women were serving in the Korean War the government saw the need for more female nurses. In 1951, the Department of Defense (DOD) created the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services to help the armed services recruit women.

Captain Viola McConnell showed strength and courage during the war. She was the only female nurse on duty in South Korea when the war first commenced. She evacuated 600 people out of South Korea to Japan on twelve passenger Norwegian freighter. The trip was long, and she put her personal well-being aside to make sure these people were safe. When she arrived back in Japan she pleaded to go back to South Korea to help others injured in war. In Taejon, she was in charge of caring for soldiers who served in the 24th Infantry Division. All total there were only twelve nurses relocated to Taejeon traveling with mobile army surgical hospitals.

Captain Viola McConnell was a nurse during the war, a very common job for women during the war. Registered nurses increasingly became specialized in the care of surgical patients and functioned with focused knowledge and skills much like advanced practice nurses of today. A critical shortage of medical officers existed, and many of the nurses who were stationed in Japan responded to this deficit of skilled personnel by taking on advanced practice responsibilities. Nurses cared for the wounded in MASH units, prisoner-of-war camps, makeshift shelters, and on hospital trains. With the innovation of MASH units, women were closer to the war than they ever expected. This war the first war in which women were so close to combat. We can see in the next war, the Vietnam war that nurses still were fighting for equality for being able to at least know how to protect themselves if the war is happening in their backyard.

While MASH was a new way of taking hospitals to the patients, the Korean War nurses had the opportunity to participate in innovative surgical procedures. An army surgical research team developed a new method of reconnecting injured vessels, repairing peripheral vascular injuries viable. Many limbs that in the past had required amputation were salvaged using this new technique. The use of antibiotics, improved arterial clamps, and the ability of helicopters to expediently deliver the newly wounded to a treatment facility promoted the success of this endeavor.

Overall women in the Korean War made a huge impact on the battleground in just a few years the war was fought. This much like others was is not talked about especially in school. We must honor and respect those lives fought. Although Captain Viola McConnell was awarded the Bronze Star, and an Oak Leaf Cluster for the Bronze Star was given for her outstanding care of the American nationals during the evacuation to Japan, she is still not recognized in books and other articles.  

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