In Honor of 2nd
Lt. Pamela D.
D. Donovan: Pamela was born to Irish
Joyce and Ted Donovan, in the UK
and educated as a nurse and nun in several
After hearing of the need for nurses to care for our soldiers in Vietnam, Pamela became a US citizen in order to volunteer in the
Nurse Corp and Vietnam
duty. She was assigned to the 85th Evac Hospital
in Qui Nhon.
Pamela died after only 4 months in country of pneumonia.
Pamela Donovan did what some US
born citizens found they could not. She was very proud to be
able to volunteer
in the efforts to serve our troops in Vietnam. Her unselfishness
caring makes her someone that we as Americans should never forget. To
to tell others about Pamela and what she sacrificed
country gives us great honor.
There is much more to her story as we were to learn from Pamela's
Liz, who we have been in touch with. Liz referred us to the
their mother, Joyce Donovan, had published, Grasping The Nettle.
to her mother, in May of 1968, she was advised that
Pamela had gone
to the beach and suffered severe sunburn and was hospitalized in Qui
she was stationed. During her recovery, Pamela made an audio tape for
parents in which she "sounded happy and in good spirits." (Background
info: We believe this beach to have been Red Beach
which was heavily guarded and only open to our service men and
fun and relaxation.)
letters she told her parents
of her plans to travel to Japan
and Australia at
conclusion of her one year tour of duty in Vietnam.
She wrote of the
possibility of applying to a number of nursing schools in the USA
furthering her nursing degree. In another letter Pamela told her
she had become aware of the existence of a "heroin ring" within the
hospital and had determined that is was her duty to report this. Her
wrote back cautioning their daughter to be very careful, that she could
putting herself in extreme danger.
Shortly after in June of 1968, Pamela's mother was hospitalized.
wrote to her mother daily giving her great support.
On July 4,
1968, Joyce and Ted (Pamela’s parents) received a
cable from Vietnam stating
that Pamela had been placed on the seriously ill list on the 3rd of
a result of an overdose of barbiturates, stating that she had been
unconscious in her billeting facility and was hospitalized in Vietnam.
Another cable arrived from Vietnam
saying that Pamela was still unconscious and was being flown to the
capital of Vietnam
she could receive "more appropriate treatment.”
On July 9 a limousine came to her parents front door as a high ranking
informed them that Pamela had died the previous day, July 8th and that
cause of her death was pneumonia.
the Army Nursing Recruitment Headquarters in Boston where Pamela had enlisted and
Cross. Joyce and Ted had many questions but none received proper
wrote Pamela’s Commanding Officer and the Chaplain in Vietnam
but received no response.
The Senior Army Officer handling the case in the States intimated that
would stop asking questions Pamela would be given a full military
funeral – the
obvious implication being that a military funeral would be refused if
continued their inquiries. For Pamela’s sake they asked no further
July 12 the post office brought a letter to Pamela's parents from their
daughter, dated July 3, five
days before her death:
Mummy and Daddy, I know over the
years you have been unhappy, as I have been unfaithful to the Church
going to Mass and the Sacraments. Well, I want you to know that last
went to the Chaplain out here to Confession, and this morning I went to
and Holy Communion. I feel a new person..... All my love Pamela. "
On July 18 Pamela's parents received the death certificate: "Died 8
1968 in Vietnam
from pneumonia secondary to overdose of barbiturates."
September the family received a second death certificate with
an additional sentence added: "Self destruction while mentally
It does not seem possible that this woman, so happy on July 3rd, could
taken her own life five days later.
6 months after her death a nurse friend of Pamela's from Vietnam
to tell her mother "the truth" about what had happened to Pamela.
"No I can't tell you. I am too afraid of what might happen to me” and
up. A few weeks later there was another call from another of Pamela's
who also wanted to tell the truth but was too afraid.
All of this leaves so many questions unanswered. However know matter
questions the life of Pamela leaves, it makes very clear that
Pamela Donovan was a brave, caring and compassionate Irish woman who
ultimate sacrifice for the love of others.
be with you Pamela. With all our Love, America