On November 11, 2023, the annual Veterans Day at The Wall ceremony we will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the commemoration of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. This ceremony will be co-hosted by Eastern National and the National Park Service, with additional support from VVMF.
MASTER OF CEREMONIES
Major General Sharon Bannister, USAF (Ret.) – Daughter of Stephen A. Rusch (2W/113)
Kera O’Bryon – Emmy-nominated actress, voice-over artist, and singer
VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL FUND SPEAKER
Janis Nark – Vietnam Veteran, Lieutenant Colonel, US Army Reserve (Ret.)
SALUTE TO VIETNAM WOMEN’S MEMORIAL SPEAKERS
Diane Carlson Evans (Keynote Speaker), Founder Vietnam Women’s Memorial, President Emeritus Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation
As a former Captain in the Army Nurse Corps who served in the combat zone of Vietnam in 1968 and 1969, Diane Carlson Evans had a profoundly personal interest in the recognition of women veterans. Working in surgical and burn units, her first-hand knowledge of the casualties of the Vietnam War and the sacrifices of the women who volunteered to leave the comforts of home to support their fighting brothers in a foreign land, led her on a ten-year mission to establish a Vietnam Women’s Memorial. She had to convince government agencies, Congress, journalists and the public that a memorial was a necessary part of the healing process for female war veterans whose service was of lasting historical significance to our nation.
Ms. Evans was the first woman in American history to spearhead a campaign to place a national monument in the nation’s capital that recognized the contributions of military women to their country, as well as civilian women’s patriotic service. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is an everlasting tribute to the 265,000 women who served during the Vietnam War.
She lives today in Helena, Montana with her husband, a Vietnam era veteran of the U.S. Army Medical Corps.
Colonel Courtney M. Sugai, U.S. Army
Colonel Courtney Sugai is a U.S. Army Logistics Officer and currently serves as the commander of the 402nd Army Field Support Brigade in Fort Shafter, Hawai‘i. COL Sugai is from Līhuʻe, Kauaʻi and attended the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education and her commission as Quartermaster Officer from University of Hawaiʻi Army Reserve Officer Training Corps. COL Sugai earned her Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and Military Studies from Hawaiʻi Pacific University and a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy from National Defense University’s Eisenhower School of National Security and Resource Strategy. Previous assignments include Logistics Plans Chief, NATO Rapid Deployable Corps-Türkiye in Istanbul, Türkiye, Assistant Executive Officer to the Commanding General of Army Materiel Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Commander, 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 1st Sustainment Brigade, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, Army Legislative Liaison at the U.S. Senate, Washington DC, battalion executive officer, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, brigade operations officer, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, and G3 Deputy Chief of Operations, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia, logistics operations officer at Headquarters, United States Army Pacific at Fort Shafter, Hawaiʻi, distribution company commander and battalion logistics officer in 27th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Bliss, Texas, and general supply officer, company executive officer, and platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky. COL Sugai has deployed twice to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002 and 2013, twice to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2003-2004 and 2006-2007, and once to Kuwait in support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield 2018. She has participated in multiple joint operations and exercises in the Pacific and European regions.
COL Sugai enjoys music, dancing the hula, reading, and going on road trips with her family. COL Sugai is married to Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Iven Sugai and has three sons.
There are eight women, all nurses, whose names appear on The Wall. Of the 265,000 women who served during Vietnam, nearly 10,000 military women served in-country during the conflict. Barred from combat, these women served in health care, communications, intelligence, and administrative positions. Civilian women served as foreign correspondents for news agencies, worked for organizations such as the American Red Cross and the USO, or served in other government agencies, such as USAID or at the embassy.
In late 1983, Diane Carlson Evans, a nurse who served in the Army in Vietnam, conceived of the idea to add a statue to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site to honor the women who served. She incorporated the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Project (VWMP) in 1984. In 2002, the group changed its name to the Vietnam Women’s Memorial Foundation (VWMF). Since 2015, Eastern National has assumed the operating mission of the Foundation. In 2023, VVMF entered into an agreement with the National Park Service to assume maintenance responsibility at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
The memorial was established not only to honor those women who served, but also for the families who lost loved ones in the war, so they would know about the women who provided comfort, care, and a human touch for those who were suffering and dying.
The 2,000 pound, 6-foot 8-inch sculpture portrays three women, one of whom is caring for a wounded male soldier. In the surrounding site, eight yellowwood trees were planted to symbolize the eight women whose names are on The Wall. The Vietnam Women’s Memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1993.