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New Bern woman shares powerful story of time as nurse during Vietnam War

Jane Knowles lives in New Bern and served as an Army nurse in Vietnam for a years in 1969. On Sunday, she spoke at Craven Community College and shared her amazing story. (Kate Hussey, NewsChannel 12 photo)

It's an incredible story from one of our own.

Jane Knowles lives in New Bern and served as an Army nurse in Vietnam for a years in 1969. On Sunday, she spoke at Craven Community College and shared her amazing story.

It was a story of loss, of tragedy, of heroism and inspiration. Knowles chose to share that story.

“It’s time to tell it,” Knowles said. “It’s about the journey that we as nurses took with the patient.”

That’s what convinced Knowles to tell everyone who came out to Craven Community College her story after 50 years of silence. She said the things she saw during her year of service were traumatizing.

“The wounds were horrific,” Knowles said.

Still, Knowles said she doesn’t regret her service to our country. In fact, quite the opposite.

“I lost nothing,” Knowles said. “I would do it again. I didn’t miss anything. I miss my friends in Vietnam and I miss my patients.”

Many of her friends and former veterans did come out to hear her speak. She spoke for all of them as she recounted some of the horrors of war that she just can’t shake.

“I don’t remember any of their names, there were so many. That’s the biggest takeaway right there.”

But recounting those experiences wasn’t the reason Knowles spoke. In fact, she purposefully left out graphic images from her time overseas. Instead, she focused on honoring all those people who served with her.

“The helicopter pilots, the surgeons, the internists, these guys that are here they’re the heroes,” Knowles said.

She also made it clear that she and her fellow nurses don’t consider themselves heroes at all.

“We’re not heroes, we’re not angels. We don’t like to be called angels or heroes,” Knowles said.

Knowles said it’s not just those who served with her who need to be honored. It’s all those who lost their lives in Vietnam. She says they’re the real reason she’s here to tell her story.

“I think it’s all about the patients,” Knowles said. “It’s all about the patients we were there for, it’s all about his journey. We took the journey with him.”

Knowles even made sure to honor and tell the stories of all the nurses who never made it back home and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

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