New Mexico & the Vietnam War:
Portrait of a Generation



Edited interview transcript

(Note: this is the full transcript of the Carson interview, edited only for readability)

I joined the service because I come from a very patriotic family. My auntie's were in World War 2, in the Navy and all my brothers were either Navy or Army, so I just felt like I needed to join. My brothers didn't want me to join.

I was the youngest of four children so I had to see the world. This was my chance to do it, and I joined the Army Nurse Corps. I joined six months actually before nursing school and I was a private at $90 dollars staffing, and for a diploma graduate that was, like you know, pay dirt. I finished school in 1962 and I was supposed to go into the military on January of 63, but the Cuban crisis came along. They called us in early because they thought they'd send us down to Florida and that started my career. So when Khrushchev blinked, then we went to our normal duty stations.

"Patriotic means serving a nation where it needs to be served and unfortunately, war is where they need you the most."

Patriotic means serving a nation where it needs to be served and unfortunately, war is where they need you the most. I volunteered to go because the soldiers were there and that's where I needed to be. That's why I joined the army, to take care of the men and women in service. They were there, they were fighting, they needed my help. I figured I could hopefully help a little bit. 90% or 99% of the nurses volunteered.

Read the rest of Jane's story


Photos of and by Jane Carson


Jane Carson's letters to her loved ones during the war

This is the poem that I wrote, one night after a big, big push and we got a lot of casualties in and it was a hellish night.

Warned of anguish on a hot July night,
a despair that was too overwhelming to recall.
Memories of a man, barely old enough to shave,
lay on the gurney at death's door way.
What can I do, what can I say,
to lessen the carnage on this hellish day?


Select pages from Jane Carson's diary during her service

More Vet Profiles | Home

For more veteran-related content, see our New Mexico Veterans: Stories of Service page

nmPBS logo