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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Jane Fraley Kodack, 2009

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Object ID: WV0471.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Jane Kodack’s service with the ANC from 1981-1993, and her education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) from 1963 to 1967.

Summary:

Kodack discusses attending UNCG in the first years after it became co-educational; returning to school after having children in order to become a nurse; and her civilian nursing jobs.

She remembers her time in the army, including what prompted her to join and her family’s reaction; the dissolution of her marriage and leaving the Reserves to become active duty; her time at Fort Sill, Oklahoma with the MEDDAC [Medical Department Activity] unit and the 47th Field Hospital; earning an Army Commendation Medal after a training accident at Fort Sill; attending Combined Armed Services Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; being part of Operation Bright Star at Cairo West Air Base in Egypt; her final deployment to Wuerzburg Germany; and her reaction to being medically discharged at the end of her service.

She includes her opinions on the Hyde Amendment; military pay; women in combat; the military as a career; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and feminism. Also included are her experiences with gender discrimination in the military; transition to civilian life; the change in attitude toward men in the nurse corps; experience as a woman at a training exercise at Camp Bullis in Texas; and her friendship with Major General Vincent K. Brooks.

Creator: Jane Fraley Kodack

Biographical Info: Jane Fraley Kodack (1947-2013) of North Carolina served in the Army Nurse Corps from 1981 to 1993.

Collection: Jane Fraley Kodack Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

Beth Ann Koelsch:

Today is October 1, 2009. My name is Beth Ann Koelsch, and I am at the home of Jane Kodack in Greensboro, North Carolina, to conduct an oral history interview for the Women Veterans Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. So, thank you very much for talking with me. I’m going to get first your first name—I meant, Jane—

Jane Kodack:

Right.

BK:

And can you spell your last name?

JK:

Kodack: K-o-d-a-c-k.   

BK:

All right. So we do this, we talk about your early life—pre-military—your time in the military—and just some questions after that.

JK:

Okay.               

BK:

So about your background at first. Where and when were you born? And we’ll talk about your family a little bit.

JK:

I was born in Thomasville, North Carolina, on February 26th, 1947.

BK:

Okay. And what did your parents do?

JK:

My father was a hospital administrator. My mother was trained as a nurse, but never worked, so was the stay-at-home wife, mom, homemaker—all that good stuff.

BK:

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

JK:

I have a brother—six years older.

BK:

Where did you go to high school?

JK:

I went to high school in Lenoir [North Carolina].

BK:

Lenoir [North Carolina]? Okay.  And what year did you graduate?

JK:

1964.

BK:

What happened—what did you do right after graduation?

JK:

[chuckle] Came to UNCG [University of North Carolina at Greensboro].

BK:

Oh, okay.

JK:

Actually, I was seventeen when I graduated and it actually had been my intent—it would have been my preference to join the military, but I was underage, and there was no way my parents were going to sign for me to join the military, because at that time women in the military were regarded as women of ill repute.

BK:

What year was this?

JK:

Nineteen sixty-seven—well, 1964.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

And since I couldn’t join on my own, I came to college.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

And came to college with the intent then of—the [military] academies were not open—to women.

BK:

Right.

JK:

—or, I would have applied to the academies. Parents’ preferences be hanged. I came to school with the intent of majoring in Spanish, minoring in French and political science—which I did.        

BK:

So you had big plans.

JK:

My intent then after graduation was to join the navy and get myself posted as a naval attaché to a diplomatic mission.

BK:

Oh wow!

JK:

Now, read that “spook” [slang for a member of the Office of Naval Intelligence]. That will come up later on.

BK:

All right, that’s foreshadowing.

JK:

Unfortunately for those plans—fortunately for people like my children—I got married instead. That took care of those plans in terms of going to the navy and that kind of stuff. I graduated college and went on with my life.

BK:

Got it. So what do you remember about UNCG?     

JK:

Wonderful place.

It was just at the beginning of the escalation of the Vietnam War. On the weekends, the 82nd Airborne [Division] moved north. And all you had to do to get a date was walk out of the dorm in reasonably nice clothes and look around. You could find anything you wanted, from a very nice guy who would take you to dinner and a movie, to guys who were interested in whipped cream and all kinds of things. You learned early to ask if they were Special Forces, unless you were into whipped cream and all kinds of things, you left them alone. But if you—you know generally they were nice guys.

Then my second and third years—because I graduated in three years—sort of living life in the fast lane. I got out of high school a year early. I got out of college a year early. I graduated [from] college at barely past my twentieth birthday.

BK:

You’d take classes in the summers?

JK:

Yeah. I went to summer school both summers. I never took an overload. I got enough credit coming in. I essentially aced out of enough courses—got enough credit on the tests you took coming in—that I never had to take an overload. But I took summer school two sessions each summer. The first year, simply because I couldn’t find a summer job, and by the second year, I figured out that I could finish in three years if I just went to summer school another summer—so, that’ s what I did.

The second two years, my roommate was the daughter of the G1 of the 82nd Airborne. The G1 is the personnel officer. He’s kind of the business manager of the division—or the battalion—or whatever level he’s at. In this case the whole corps.  We had no problems with any of the military. We would just say, “Colonel Hayward says—”

“What?”

“Colonel—”

“Our Colonel Hayward?” [chuckles]

“Yeah. That would be the guy.”

Because one of the things the G1 has control of is orders. If he doesn’t like you, you’re on the first plane elsewhere. So that took care of any behavior issues.

BK:

So UNCG had just been co-ed[ucational] for a few years? [WC became UNCG and co-educational in 1963.]

JK:

Yeah. It was WC [Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina] when I applied. It was UNCG when I entered. There were—this is very politically non-correct, but if you haven’t figured out by now, I’m not politically correct. There were 4500 of us, 50 co-eds, and 45 of them were just one of the girls.

BK:

Oh okay, right.

JK:

That made sense because most of the guys coming in initially were art majors, music majors, and that thing that typically stereotypically attracts gay guys. I felt sorry for them—any of them—because even the straight ones couldn’t get dates, because no UNCG girl was about to touch a UNCG guy.

BK:

Because?

JK:

Because you would be seen as being desperate. Because who wanted to date a guy who was going to a girls’ college?

BK:

They probably thought, you know, they had it made when they went in.

JK:

Well, the guys used to complain, “You girls go to Chapel Hill to get dates, and so do we have to because you won’t touch us!”

“That’s right, we won’t.”

It really was hard for them. Of course, at that point there were no dorms that guys could live in, so they were all off-campus. They were—I wouldn’t say they were isolated in the classes per se. They weren’t shunned exactly, but they were looked upon with a lot of suspicion and some distaste. Because it had been an all-girls school, and lots of us—myself included—applied and came to UNCG because it was a girls’ school.            

BK:

Right. That must have been quite an unpleasant change.

JK:

It was in some ways. It was still so much—so predominantly all female when I was here that you barely noticed the fact that they were guys, because the whole social thing went around the dorms. And there were no guys in the dorms. And it was still in the era of in loco parentis. So the dorms closed. Again, I’m not politically correct. I think the worst thing in the world that has happened—and I understand the legal ramifications of it and all—but eighteen year olds may be legally adults, but they’re not adults. The fact that there are no rules in the dorms—essentially no enforceable ones—is horrible. You’ve got a bunch of hormone-crazy kids with—just turned loose in close proximity to each other. I’m surprised that there’s not any more disasters that go on. It’s terrible and it’s irresponsible, but that’s what we’ve done to ourselves as a society.

But we had locked doors and curfews. You couldn’t have guys in the residence part of the dorms. They didn’t go above the first floors ever. Well, they weren’t supposed to go above the first floors ever. We all knew of instances where boyfriends had been sneaked in. Those girls were also looked down on as sluts. This was not behavior that a lady did. At that point, when I was in school here, it mattered if you were a lady. You know, that mattered.

I think if you walked on UNCG campus now and asked the students, “Does it matter to you if you’re a lady or not?” they would look at you like you had three heads.

BK:

They might just not understand the question.

JK:

Exactly. Exactly. We have lost that concept that it matters to be a lady. Yet, that was part of the point of UNCG when I was here. I was an Alumni Scholar in the second class—I think—of Alumnae Scholars [students who received the Alumnae Scholarship for incoming freshmen]—maybe it was the second or third class of Alumni Scholars. I still have my little gold bracelet that they gave us. It’s got the Alumni House on it.

BK:

Did you enjoy school?

JK:

I loved it—loved it. I had such a good time here. One of the oddities, I had an English teacher in his first year of teaching. She had him—my daughter had him—in his last year of teaching.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And he would tell her class about how bad the first classes he had the first year he worked. She did not tell him that her mother had been in one of those classes. [chuckles]

BK:

Too smart for that.  

BK:

Did you have any other teachers that made an impression on you?

JK:

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. One of them just retired—oh I had a couple. One of my Spanish professors we had to report to the dean of faculty.

BK:

Oh my.

JK:

Because he had a way to come to class with his clothing—shall we say—not entirely closed, and standing in front of the class with one leg propped up on his desk—going, [unclear] “Mirame” [Spanish for “look at me”].

“I don’t think so.”

BK:

Wow. That’s very odd.

JK:

I told my father about this. He said, “You need to talk to the dean.” So several of us—there were like nine or ten of us in the class, because it was an upper level Spanish class and only the majors were taking it—several of us got together and went to see the dean of the faculty and that behavior ceased—desisted immediately.

BK:

That’s good.

JK:

Yeah. A lot of the professors stand out. I had a chemistry professor named Ms. Felton. Just superb. She managed to make chemistry—to those of us who were definitely not chemistry types—understandable. I had a little—I had a French professor—little French Basque guy. There were two of us who were Spanish majors in his French class. He would just go ballistic. “Mademoiselle ce n’est pas une classe d'espagnol.”

He would go and on and on for some length about getting that Spanish word off his blackboard. I’d be standing there trying to figure out which word in the French sentence I had just written up there was Spanish, because if I ran out of French vocabulary I just threw in Spanish. Fran did the same thing. I was like, “Just shoot me.”

BK:

The Basques don’t like that.

JK:

Oh yes, and French Basque are even weirder than Spanish Basque. They would be ballistic.

I took a class, I don’t even know if it’s offered anymore. It was through the speech department. It was officially called “Oral Interpretation”. We called it “Reading Aloud,” which was basically what it was.

The thing that made it so neat was that the instructor was Ms. English. About five years before I had her, she had a laryngectomy [the removal of the larynx and separation of the airway from the mouth, nose, and esophagus] done. And she used esophageal speech, you know, where they swallow air and use that to form sounds. She said it had turned her into a cockney [term associated with working class individuals living in London’s East End].

Just the surgery—she couldn’t, say, aspirate her h’s, until one day she noticed—this would have been in the late 1950s—she noticed that whenever she swore, “Oh hell,” she aspirated the H correctly. So then she upset the nurses in the hospital, because for several days all she did was walk around swearing until she could figure out how she was doing it. She said, because for a speech teacher that was frustrating beyond words. She could get so much expression into esophageal speech.

It was such an inspiration to see somebody who had overcome that kind of adversity, and was still teaching and going about her business in a very matter-of-fact way. I think that is what struck me about a lot of faculty at that time. They lived life in a very matter-of-fact fashion. There wasn’t a lot of flag waving or banner waving or protest doing. There was the concept that you live your life, and you make a difference by living your life. And that you live it in a ladylike way—that you live it in a way that—I guess the current buzz word would be “an empowered way.” But that you did it with manners, civility, propriety—ladylike way—what we called being a “lady.”

Now, I think these days being a lady is kind of equated with being a wuss, and it’s not [being a wuss]. I mean if you meet a classy lady—particularly a classy Southern lady—you’re not going to put anything over on her, but it’s going to be a polite way that she does you in. You know, I’m sorry that we’re not teaching our young women some of that, because we’ve lost a lot of civility in our society. I think that it’s institutions like UNCG—which is still predominantly women—that have—those institutions have the potential for bringing back some of that. Because a society that has more civility in it will run smoother and more efficiently—just a general better life for the whole society, if we get some civility back in it. Politeness makes the world go better. I mean, let’s face it, are you going to get better help in a store if you go, “Listen you so-and-so,” or if you go, “Could you help me please and thank you very much?”

I mean, I know that sounds very basic, but that’s where we are at, I think. That’s my sermon for the day.

BK:

[chuckles] Okay.

Were you also aware of experiences—in the mid sixties you had the Civil Rights Movement, the New Left, and antiwar stuff and counterculture.

JK:

Oh, yes. I mean—okay. How blunt would you like me to be? Mary Foust, and what’s the dorm directly across the street from Mary Foust?

BK:

I’m blanking on it.

JK:

Guilford, that’s the other dorm, I think. Mary Foust was running a prostitution ring.

BK:

Wow. [chuckle] I didn’t see that coming.

JK:

The other one was the drug dorm. You didn’t see that one coming? Oh yeah, Momma—I can’t remember what her other—but she worked in the—she was a student. She worked in the cafeteria and she ran a prostitution ring on the side.

BK:

Involving the students there?

JK:

Oh yeah.

BK:

What year again, sixty—

JK:

The mid sixties. I entered in ‘64 and graduated in ’67.  

BK:

Wow.

JK:

Yeah. Mary Foust was the prostitution ring and Guilford was the drugs. If you wanted drugs, your contacts would be in Guilford.

BK:

You’d just walk in?

JK:

Yeah. You kind of had to know somebody, I think. It was not something that I was ever involved in. There were students who got involved in the civil rights marches that were going on in Greensboro at the time.

I remember writing my father. You know, I was a good Southern girl. I wrote my father and asked permission. He told me, “No.” He not only told me “No,” but “Hell no.” Because his concern for the future in terms of—you know—students were getting arrested and stuff. And so, I did not participate in that. The university had integrated by that point, so we had black students on campus and in the dorms. There were some issue with some of the students about that, but I don’t remember that being any big issue.

The anti-war stuff did not hit until right after I got out of school.  As I said, the 82nd Airborne was still moving north and being welcomed [laughs] on the weekends. All of that began to change right after—in ’68 was where the big huge ugly demonstrations—Kent State happened in ’68. You know?

BK:

I do know. I think that it was a little later than ‘68. I think it was seventy.

JK:

No. Kent State happened when I was living on Short Street in Chapel Hill [North Carolina]—

BK:

Okay.

JK:

That would be ’68. [The Kent State shootings occurred May 4, 1970]. All of that—those broke right after I got out of school.

BK:

Were you interested—did you know you wanted to go into nursing while you were in school?

JK:

No.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

I graduated, got married, and worked in—I worked in the hospitals in Chapel Hill and then at Duke [University]. When I had my first child I became a stay-at-home mom.

BK:

Okay. So you graduated in ’67—

JK:

I got married six days later.

BK:

Oh wow. Where did you meet your husband? I guess—

JK:

In Chapel Hill at summer school.

BK:

Well, okay, so six days later?

JK:

Right. I married six days after graduation, and about twenty-one months later I had our first child.

BK:

You were living in Chapel Hill then?

JK        I was living in Chapel Hill at the time. I stayed at home full time. I started picking classes—well, I started realizing that I wanted to go back to school. The first thing I looked into was hospital administration.

BK:

Because you were working—

JK:

Well, my dad was a hospital administrator. And then I realized as I was looking through the courses at Duke—because that was the program I was looking into—that everything that was most interesting to me had to do with clinical stuff. And so then I said, “Well, it makes sense for me to go to nursing school.” I had offers to apply to—it was basically assured that I would get into Duke med school, but I did not want to be a doctor.

BK:

How’d you get those—who did you—

JK:

My ex was working for doctors at Duke in research. They were on the admissions board. “Do you want to—it’s not like you don’t know people on the admissions board.”

BK:

Right.

JK:

I said, “Thank you very much. I don’t want to be a doctor.”

BK:

So you moved to Chapel Hill in ’67 and had your first child in ’68.

JK:

Sixty-nine.

BK:

Sixty-nine. So when did you start looking to go back to school?

JK:

When Deb was born in ’71. And I started picking up classes, when I guess she was two. I decided to go to nursing school and then I needed to pick up some back classes. So for a couple of years I picked up one class at a time.

BK:

At Chapel Hill?

JK:

At Chapel Hill and then went to nursing school at Chapel Hill.

BK:

Fulltime?

JK:

Fulltime—when I got into the actual program, yeah. It was a twenty-one month program. That was all the time that I had to be in it. It was because I entered as a junior nursing student because I already had a degree.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

So all I had to do was the nursing part of it.

BK:

To become an RN [registered nurse]?

JK:

To become an RN, right. I was a thorn in their side. At that time they were not accustomed to prior degree students.

BK:

Oh really?

JK:

Out of an entering—158 entering nursing students, there were twenty of us who were prior degreed: which, of course, also meant that we were older. I in my—I was twenty-seven when I went back to school; I was twenty-nine at graduation and outspoken.

The day before—within a few days of graduation I went to the dean of the school of nursing and handed her a two paged typed outline—the bottom line of which was, “I would not recommend this program to anybody for any reason whatsoever.”

BK:

Wow.

JK:

I said, “I have complied with your program. I have won because I am your top student in your class. So this is not sour grapes. This program has a major problem.”

BK:

What were the problems?

JK:

Well, that was what the two pages were about.

BK:

Oh, okay.

JK:

I went through and detailed, naming names and everything else. When my class took the boards [nursing certification boards], 14% failed.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

Fourteen percent of UNC-Chapel Hill nursing students that year flunked the boards.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

It was all I could do to keep from going back on campus and going, “[makes noise] I told you so!” They straightened it out. By the next year they ironed out a lot of the problems.

BK:

Was it some of the teachers, the—

JK:

The teachers were a lot of it. It was a transition in between one dean and the next dean. I mean, I had an instructor come up to me a month or so before graduation and say, “Oh, you have just grown so much,” and all this bull hockey. I just looked at her and said, “You don’t know jack about me, honey.”

BK:

Wow.

JK:

“You have not got a clue.”

It was just this—we had one—oh my God—she was one of the psych instructors and I had her for senior seminar. In that particular seminar, part of our grade came from whether or not we were assertive, versus aggressive. Okay? Now, she was very big into Rogerian Reflection.

BK:

I have never heard of that.

JK:

And therapeutic silence.

Okay, therapeutic silence, I ask you a question and you sit there and you wait, and you don’t answer. See what happens. Rogerian Reflection is you come and you’re very angry and you’re venting, the person looks at you and says, “You’re feeling angry today.”

Okay. “Are you hard of hearing!?” [chuckle]

Most of the faculty was big into that Rogerian Reflection. It drove me nuts. But, here is this—we’ll leave her nameless—instructor who is into therapeutic silence. And there were three of us in this group of like fifteen students in that seminar who were prior degreed. And so we got together and we decided that we would cure this nonsense, but you couldn’t be aggressive about it. And saying something directly like, “Would you quit that nonsense?”, would be considered aggressive.

So what we started doing was if somebody said something and she started doing this we’d count to ten and say, “You know, it bothers me that you don’t seem to be responding to this person’s response—this person’s question or this person’s comment.” We varied who made this statement to her.

By the end of the semester as soon as anybody said anything she was stammering.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

[Makes chicken noises] “Here, let me have fun messing with your mind!”

BK:

So in the psychology class you learned to use psychology?

JK:

Oh yeah. Well, one of my psych professors at UNCG the year before I had him—because I had him as a freshman in an experimental psych class—he said, “Now girls, don’t do what my class did last year.”

His class, as it happened, went from his class pretty much as a group to one of the history classes. And that professor was a pacer. They were talking about behavior modification and positive and negative reinforcement and all like this. So what they got together and did was that anytime he was on one side of the room they were hanging on his every word, and anytime he was on the other side of the room they were doing their nails and whatever.

And by the end of a number of weeks he’s kind of stuck on this side of the room without realizing why it is he feels like he has to stay over there, and going nuts because his pattern is to pace.

BK:

Oh wow.

JK:

And Doctor Smith, who was the psych professor, found it out, because they got to chatting and laughing about it in class. He said, “And then I had to go tell the poor guy that my students had been messing with his head.”

BK:

That’s great.

JK:

Those are the kinds of things that I don’t know if they’re done or not done on college campuses. Maybe in a way we lived in a more innocent time, but those were the kinds of college pranks.

BK:

That’s a good one.

JK:

I mean, you messed with their heads. And, frankly, it was from that class that we figured out how to do it to my nursing professor. “Let’s mess with her head.”

BK:

Right. Did you have other UNCG women with you—graduate women in nursing?

JK:

Not in nursing, no.

BK:

How did you know in what area you were interested in, in nursing—talk a little bit about—

JK:

That kind of developed. Of course, as you go through your different rotations in nursing school you know what appeals to you. I found out real quick that geriatric nursing did not. That was my first rotation. I liked surgical stuff from—pretty much from the get-go—certain post-op[eration] patients and that kind of thing. I loved OB [Obstetrics] from the get -go. Loved working in labor and delivery.

I had thought for a while that I would want to do NICU—the neonatal intensive care. I decided that I didn’t like working with those little, itty bitty, peanuts. I liked delivering them. I did not like having to look after them.

So when I got out of nursing school, I went to work at Duke on a staff med/surg [medical/surgical] overflow ward.

BK:

Okay. I don’t know what that means.

JK:

Okay. Staff—at that time in particular at Duke you had private patients who were looked after by the faculty at the medical school—the full-fledged doctors—the real doctors—and then you had staff patients who were looked after by the interns and the residents.

BK:

How did you—how—how was a patient decided about what group?

JK:

A lot of it had to do with insurance, as it still does.

BK:

This is ’72 about?

JK:

Sixty—no, ’76. I graduated from nursing school in ’76. So I was on this ward ’76 to ’77.

BK:

Okay.

JK:       And the wards were very clearly delineated at that point. You pretty much had private wards and you had staff wards. I was on one called Strudwick. It was a staff ward, med/ surg, overflow meaning—medical surgical—meaning we got patients from both the medical services and from the surgical services. So you might have patients who were from cardiology, pulmonary patients, ophthalmology patients, I had—because we got overflow from all the other wards. The ophthalmology ward is full, so we got those patients.

I even had one patient who was an obstetrical patient. She was nineteen weeks along and you had to be twenty weeks to go Carter Suites, which was the labor and delivery area. If you were below twenty weeks you went somewhere else. She had been bitten by a black widow spider.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

So she had to be in the hospital for some treatment. She came to us and once a shift somebody came from OB, checked on the baby, and said “it’s fine,” and they left, we were good.

So I had—it was great work. I was way overwhelmed. I worked the night shift by myself—basically—with two LPNs [Licensed Practical Nurses]. No unit dose—meaning I had to do the old—pour all the medicines, you know, all the little pills. It was little cups with patients’ names.  I mean it was wild. I hit the floor at 10:30 at night. I worked the night shift.  I went to work at 10:30 at night and poured my first round of meds, went to report at 11:00 o’clock, made charge nurse rounds, which would take about fifteen minutes—off-going charge nurse, on-going charge nurse—walk through the ward—talked about everything. Then I never stopped running until I left at about 8:00 o’clock in the morning.

I’m lucky that I didn’t kill anybody—seriously. I am so grateful that the good Lord looked after me, and I didn’t manage to kill anybody in that length of time. But I learned a tremendous amount. One of the things about the nursing school was that too many times as we asked, “How do we do this?”

“Oh that’s just a” —what did they call?—“Psychomotor skill. You’ll learn that your first six months out of school.”

Well, they were right, but that first six months out of school, the anxiety level is enough to kill you. It’s no wonder they were losing nurses right and left from the profession. That is still true. They have not adequately prepared nurses with the basic skills they need, and the anxiety makes the first year of working so unpleasant. Five years out of nursing school, fifty percent of the nurses are no longer in nursing.

BK:

Wow, I didn’t know that.

JK:

That was what it was when I came along. I suspect it may be higher now.

BK:

So did you ever want to quit?

JK:

No.

BK:

No? Once you just made up your mind—

JK:

Once I made up my mind, I found out that this is what I liked to do. Now, I am first and foremost a linguist, but I loved being a nurse as well. And after a year on Strudwick I went to labor and delivery at Duke, which at that time was called Carter Suites.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

I worked there two and a half years. I knew then that I wanted to then expand my role.  I did not want to be a nurse practitioner. I did not want to be a midwife for the same reason. Both of those, you have to be a good outpatient person. I am not. It’s not that I don’t care what your home situation is or if your nutritional status is adequate, it’s that I don’t care what your home situation is and if your nutritional status is adequate. Really, it’s “Professionally I care, but I don’t care.”

BK:

It’s a different skill set.

JK:

Yeah. It’s a very different skill set—well put. On the other hand, give me somebody that is hands-on acute care, lots of stuff going on—I’m a happy camper. That is how I backed into nurse anesthesia.

BK:

Oh, okay.

JK:

That’s how I got there. I wanted something that was in-house, hands-on, bedside, active stuff. The only thing that really fits that bill is nurse anesthesia.

The first six months in school—I went to anesthesia school in Charlotte. And the first six months was all didactic. It about killed me. Our standard conversation in class was how to kill ourselves in such a way that nobody would realize that it was a suicide, so our families could get the insurance money.

BK:

When you say didactic, what do you mean by—

JK:

In the classroom only—not in the OR [Operating Room].  As soon as we hit the OR I was delighted—as were most of us. That first six months was like, “Oh good lord!” All of us by definition—because it’s part of the requirement—had had ICU [Intensive Care Unit] experience, because—oh, part of  Strudwick was that we had an acute care trauma unit attached to it.

Yeah, I’ll tell you that. I’ll you a war story. It’s a nursing war story—not a war, war story. But at any rate in anesthesia school somebody would go, “God, why did I do this to myself?”

Everyone would turn around and say, “Turn and wipe” Because in an ICU “turn the patient, wipe”—that’s why [This means cleaning up a patient who has had a bowel movement or been incontinent of urine—JK added later].

We admitted into the ICU at Duke—the trauma unit—because we set it up. We were the initial, first trauma unit set up at Duke, was on Strudwick Ward, and all of the nurses rotated through it. I came in one night, and I was assigned down there. We had one room that had two patients in it and one room that had just one. My best LPN was in the one room, and I had the other two patients. They had just admitted this guy and he was a Hell’s Angel [a member of the Hells Angels Motor Cycle Club: an organization that had been linked to criminal activity] who had been shot. He went by “Boogie”. I remember his full name, but he went by Boogie. My LPN came out and I’m blanking on her name, but a lovely great African-American lady. She came over to me and says, “I don’t think I have to put up with this.”

“What ‘this’ would that be?”

Well, he was commenting upon her parentage and sexual proclivities and so forth and so on. I went over and said, “What’s going on?” And he proceeded to go on about my parentage and sexual proclivities and so forth. I said, “I” —this is the only time in my career when I ever did this—I said, “I do not think you understand the system. They tell me to observe you for possible head injury. An example of behavior associated with head injury is being irrational and not acting appropriately. Bad mouthing the people who are trying to take care of you is inappropriate, irrational behavior, therefore I must conclude you have a head injury and therefore you don’t get any pain medicine.”

And Mrs. Harper—then I looked at Mrs. Harper and said, “Do whatever you have to do. If he doesn’t want to turn, if he doesn’t want to cough, then leave him alone. Sit there, watch him, make sure he breathes, empty his foley [catheter] and otherwise leave him alone.”

It took about two hours. She came over and said, “He has apologized to me and he would really like to talk to you.”

“Okay.”

So I went over and he apologized profusely and we agreed that he did in fact, not have a head injury. I gave him something for pain.

BK:

Excellent.

JK:

When I came in the next night, the evening nurses who had admitted him, said, “What did you do to him? He’s a wonderful patient!”

And he’s looking at me and I said, “We came to a meeting of the minds.” He was a model patient. If you were to say to Boogie after that, “I need you to turn.”

He would say, “Which direction?”

“I need you to cough.”

“How many times?”

He was just—he really was—basically—he was a nice guy who just needed to see the process.

Two days after he was discharged we admitted the guy who had shot him.

I had asked Boogie at one point—his entrance wound was right here—just suprasternal [above the sternum]. You could feel the bullet right there between two of his ribs. It had collapsed both lungs but it missed his heart and all the great vessels.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

In thinking about it I decided that he had to be right parallel to the trajectory of the bullet. It just skimmed along right inside the rib cage. So I asked him what he was doing when he got shot.

He said, “Why hell ma’am, I was diving for cover!”

“Okay, that makes sense.”

So two days after he was discharged we admitted the guy who had shot him. This was a nineteen-year-old kid who thought it would be nice to go out and shoot up some Hell’s Angels. He killed two of them and put Boogie in the hospital. Hell’s Angels don’t take kindly to that.

BK:

No.

JK:

They planted dynamite under his front seat.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

Let me tell you, between looking after the Hell’s Angel and looking after this nineteen-year-old twit, give me the Hell’s Angel any day. Okay?       

So I go to anesthesia school. I loved the OR. About halfway through anesthesia school I realized—because I was living in Charlotte during the week and going back home to Chapel Hill on the weekends—I needed a part-time job. Joining the reserves seemed like a reasonable way of getting some money. Now, I almost joined the reserves when I got out of nursing school. I had gone through all the paperwork with the 3274th [United States Army Hospital] in Raleigh—in Durham.

BK:

Now the reason that you were going to do that was?           

JK:

I wanted to be in the army since I was six years old.

BK:

Okay? I somehow missed that part, all right.

JK:

Well, I wanted to be in the military. We really hadn’t talked about that. I grew up wanting to be in the military.

BK:

Were people in your family in the military?

JK:

Nope. My father was 4F in World War II because of injuries that he’d had to his right hand, when he had been cranking a car when he was fifteen and the crank kicked back and fractured his wrist. He was left with some median nerve damage, so he had these two middle fingers here were numb. You can’t manipulate a rifle well—or safely—that way. My uncle—my mother’s brother—was the only one in the family that was in the military.

BK:

Where do you think your desire came from?

JK:

Me? I don’t know.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

I really don’t know. It was—I played with toy soldiers. I marched—at the time, for a year or two—there was  a television show—based on a novel, I’ve since found out—called The Long Gray Line about the cadets at West Point. I have just always loved it. I loved the idea of the uniforms and the marching. You know that whole army thing.

BK:

So you were going to go into the reserves after nursing school, and then why did you decide not to?

JK:

They said—I had gone through all of the paperwork—it came to the point of me sending it off—and they said, “Oh, by the way, you’re going to be assigned to the 312th.”

I said, “No, no I’m not.”

They said, “No ma’am, you don’t have a choice.”

I said, “Yeah, I do!” I reached over, picked up the paperwork up off the desk, [unclear], dropped it back on the desk and walked out.

The poor sergeant is sitting there looking at me like, “Huh?”

BK:

Now, what is the 312th?

JK:

312 Evac[uation Hospital] at the time it was in Winston-Salem. And the reason I did not want to be—I think they would have signed me to them and attached me to the 3274th for training, but I didn’t understand that. The guy wasn’t explaining that part. And the 312th was the only reserve medical unit that went to Vietnam for six years!

BK:

For six years, wow.

JK:

Now, they rotated people through it, but for six years. It was the only reserve medical unit in the army that went to Vietnam for six straight years. No thank you!          I wasn’t going to do that.

BK:

Now, how did you know about that?

JK:

Talking to folks in the 32 [JK corrected later: 3274th]. One of my nursing school instructors was part of the 3274th and the chief nurse of the 3274th at the time had been my first clinical instructor.

BK:

Okay. After anesthesiology, you’re commuting; you needed a part time job?

JK:

I needed a part time job, so I again went to the navy first. They couldn’t find a billet for me. I talked to the army recruiters and they had said, “Not a problem.”

So I signed in to—I was originally assigned to the unit there in Charlotte of which I just blanked on that number. It was a reserve unit. We really didn’t do jack there. Training was at Charlotte Memorial, and you really couldn’t do anything. It wasn’t a military hospital, we weren’t employees of the hospital, you weren’t covered by anything. I could do my anesthesia, some anesthesia stuff there as a student, because that’s what I was. But in general you couldn’t accomplish anything.

BK:

So this about ‘79–‘80?

JK:

[Nineteen] Eighty-one—’81 to ’82. In ’82 I graduated from anesthesia school. I went to work in Burlington [North Carolina] as CRNA [Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist], commuting from Chapel Hill to Burlington. I was—all this time I was with 3297th, assigned to the 3297th in Florida.

I was attached originally to the unit in Charlotte and then attached—for a year attached to the 3274th and then a billet with the 3274th opened up, and I was assigned to the 3274th. We were the backup unit for the medical units at Womack [Army Medical Center] and Fort Bragg [North Carolina]. We went to Bragg for our weekends.

So I went to Reserve OBC [Officer Basic Course]. I had been in the reserves two years already by the time that I actually went there.

BK:

Now, when you joined what were the reaction of your family and friends?

JK:

I think my parents were kind of, “Well, she’s been after the military all of her life, she finally did it.” Larry [Jane Kodack’s husband] seemed to be supportive of it at the time. You know, it was a good part-time job. But he got less supportive of it as time goes by. We had been living in Chapel Hill long enough that the anti-military attitude was rubbing off pretty strongly. Then when I started talking about going on active duty all of that kind of meshed in with— the marriage was falling apart anyway. That was not going to be a fit at all. He became more obviously anti-military. That just—It all just kind of came out in the wash at the same time in a sense, I guess.

BK:

So when you joined—do you remember the date of when you joined the reserve?

JK:

Like September the 9th—September the 8th or 9th of ’81.

BK:

And when you went active?

JK:

The fifteenth of October, 1985.

BK:

All right, that’s four years. Okay.

JK:

I was four years active reserves and then I separated December the 10th, 1993.

BK:

Okay. And how old were your children when you went active?

JK:

On active—you were thirteen, you turned fourteen—

Deb Kohten:   Almost fourteen.

JK:

Almost fourteen and Jonathan was sixteen—almost seventeen.

BK:

And did they live with you or with your ex-husband?

JK:

When I went to OBC I couldn’t take them with me.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

I landed in Fort Sill [Oklahoma] two weeks before Christmas.

BK:

This is in?

JK:

In ’85. And Deb came out to visit me at Christmas, but wanted to finish her eighth grade year in Chapel Hill. So she went back and finished and came out at the end of her eighth grade year. And she came out to live with me permanently, because there had been physical abuse of her by her father. So there was no way—that’s also part of what broke up the family. I had friends at Bragg who suggested that that problem could disappear. It’s  like, “No!”

They said, “Well, nobody would know!”

I said, “No! I would know! No!”

They said, “Are you sure?”

“Yes!”

Deb Kohten:   They were rather upset.

JK:

Trust me. They could have done it. He has no clue how close he came to just being eliminated.

Deb Kohten:   To being boar bait.

JK:

Yeah. Some of them were really—it was a matter of, “No, you cannot do this.” Because there were a couple that were really hot about what had gone on.

BK:

Now, Fort Bragg was before Fort Sill?

JK:

Yeah. Bragg was my reserve time. Bragg was my reserve time.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

So after three years I had been practicing as a civilian anesthetist for three years. And I very quickly figured out too that I much preferred being a CRNA in the army, as compared to being a CRNA on the civilian side.

BK:

Because?

JK:

I didn’t like being a whore.

BK:

Can you explain that a little bit, please?

JK:

[chuckle] Civilian CRNAs prostitute their skills.

BK:

In what way?

JK:

When I was working in Burlington—and it is true here too—the anesthesiologist quote, quote, “Had to be in the room at every induction and every emergence.” I wasn’t allowed to do any regional anesthesia, yadda, yadda, yadda.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

I couldn’t start a case on call, until the anesthesiologist got there. Never mind if it was a screaming emergency, I couldn’t start it.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

In the military, you do your own regionals [regional anesthesia]. The surgeons treat you with respect—not true on the civilian side. You are—now ASA3 patients, which are your sicker patients, of course, you have an anesthesiologist there. That’s standard guidelines, but ASA1’s and 2’s you don’t need them there.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

There are five ASA guidelines. ASA1—that’s the American Society of Anesthesiology—it’s the anesthesia doctors’ organization. ASA1 is a perfectly healthy person: no disease processes. ASA2 is somebody who has one organ system disease of some sort. It might be that they’ve got some blood pressure problems—chronic high blood pressure—but it’s well controlled—or they’re diabetic and have nothing else wrong with them.

BK:

Got it.

JK:

ASA3 is stable multi-organ system problems. That would be me. ASA4: not stable multi-system problems, but probably going to have a good outcome overall—that was me a year ago. ASA5 is going to be lucky to come off the table. Three, four, and five you want an [anesthesia]ologist there. One and two you don’t need an [anesthesia]ologist there under the normal course of things. You want one somewhere handy just in case—ward off those evil spirits.

I had patients in the civilian side tell me—another thing that griped me. You have the patient lying out like this. I’m up there. The [anesthesia]ologist would come and stand right there, where the patient could see them and make sure that the patient could see them pushing the meds.

BK:

Got it.

JK:

“Oh, Doctor so-and-so was so good when he put me to sleep.”

“[annoyed noise] He didn’t put you to sleep!”

BK:

Right.

JK:

The crowning thing was the day they called me up from outpatient to do an eighty-year-old ASA4 acute abdomen patient in the main OR in Burlington. I come up. They’ve already got her on the table. The doctor is already scrubbed, going in the room. I say, “What’s going on?”

He says, “Matt has all of the salient details.”

I say, “Well, I don’t see Matt and I’m going to be looking after her. What’s going on?” So he condescended to give me a few details. I called out. I had the circulator to call out to Matt to tell him that I was ready to put this patient to sleep.

“Oh go ahead, because I’m doing pre-op interviews.”

I said, “Remind him that this is ASA4-E—emergency—he needs to come.”

“No, I’m too busy. Tell her to go ahead.”

So an hour and half later, and he finally shows up. The surgeon looks at him and says, “Nice case Matt, thank you.”

BK:

Oh, wow.

JK:

It’s like, “Okay, I’m going to kill somebody.”

BK:

It’s all making sense.

So what was your training like when you got there? What was your experience like when you got to Fort Sill? And what rank did you go in as?

JK:

I went into the reserves as a first lieutenant. I made captain while I was in the reserves. So when I went on active duty I was captain with a year in grade. I landed at Fort Sill. My first chief anesthetist was lunatic named Conn Parker. He had a personal arsenal out the yin-yang. I was broken into—my house was broken into twice the first week I was living in it—before my household goods even got there, the first time. I was a little freaked out by this.

And the day my household goods arrived, Conn came by to see how I was doing. He and I were sitting there chatting, and he had been in there probably ten or fifteen minutes when I realized that my .45 [caliber pistol] was lying on the back of my sofa.

“Sorry sir!”

BK:

How do you spell his name?

JK:

C-o-n-n.          

BK:

C-o-n-n. And what rank was he?

JK:

Parker. He was a LTC [lieutenant colonel].

BK:

LTC, okay.

JK:

He just looked over at it and went, “Good choice of caliber. The safety is on. No problem.”

BK:

That was nice of him.

JK:

It was. And then I was broken into again and the S.O.B. stole my .45. I think he had seen the box when he was there the first time.

BK:

Oh my!

JK:

And I went to Colonel Parker and said, “I don’t want him—I’ve still got my .38 [caliber pistol], but I don’t know what to do about this.”

He said, “Well, bring it—it fits into your purse, doesn’t it?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Well, bring it.”

“Into the hospital?”

“Are you going to tell anybody about it?”

“No!”

“Well, I’m not going to tell anybody about it. Lock it up in your locker.”

“Okay.”

So for several weeks—we got my house thoroughly secured—I was packing heat. 

BK:

Now, was this on-base or off-base?

JK:

Yes.

BK:

And they were breaking in on-base?

JK:

I did not live on-base.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

But I was packing heat on the base, which was definitely illegal to do. 

BK:

Got it.

Deb Kohten:   Concealed.

JK:

Yes, concealed. I was very—I liked Fort Sill. We had—most of the time I was there my chief anesthetist was Dottie Srembo. She was a piece of work.

BK:

And how do you spell her last name?

JK:

S-r-e-m-b-o.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

She tried to decredential [This means to remove the credentials a person is granted by a hospital in order to practice there. All MD’s and advanced practitioners (CRNA’s, PA’s, CNM’s, and CNP’s) have to be credentialed by every hospital or hospital system where they work—JK added later] one of the anesthetists just out of nonsense—pure and simple.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

She did not get along with Kenny and did her best to decredential him and she failed.

Then we got in a new anesthetist who was coming out of the reserves who had been an anesthetist and had dropped her licensure for a period of time; had gone back through her training again and then came on active duty. I knew from the time that she hit Sill that she was not appropriate for nurse anesthesia in the army. She would have been happy as a lark in my position in Burlington. But she was a little scaredy [sic] thing and the idea of having to do a case completely by herself—she should have been administratively discharged—they had time, she could have been administratively discharged—and got her out in her first ninety days in the army and it wouldn’t have been a problem. But they didn’t do that. Instead, they let her get past that time and then decredentialed her.

Colonel Srembo got moved to Frankfurt. And then when they told me that they were sending me to Germany—I was real frank with the people from DA [Department of Army]— I said, “I will to go to Wuerzburg [Army Hospital], but only if you promise me that there is no way on God’s green earth that you will send me to Frankfurt; because, I will go AWOL [Absent Without Official Leave] if you try that. I will resign my commission and leave.” Because by that time, I owed them no time.

BK:

Oh, okay.

JK:

Six years. You sign up for an initial six years, so by that time I had been at Fort Sill for two years, I was free game. I could leave at any point. So I was at Sill for two and a half years assigned to the MEDDAC, and then I moved to 47th Field Hospital—which then became the 47th Battalion.

BK:

And where was that?

JK:

Sill.  

BK:

Fort Sill, okay.

JK:

It was a paperwork move, but it kept me at Sill, so Deb could graduate high school. And it was with the 47th Field—okay, it was funny—usually battalions absorb the hospital. In this case, the 47th Field Hospital became the 47th Combat Support Brigade [JK corrected later: Battalion].

BK:

Now were your days different on each one? What was a typical day like?

JK:

A typical day I would get in the hospital at about 6:30 in the morning, do my cases. If I was on call, pick up a beeper and go home. We had a misfire while I was there on a Wednesday. We had been expecting a mass cal exercise—for mass casualties—we knew that was coming. So they called me—we typically would go to church on Wednesday afternoons.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

They called me, what, 4:30 in the afternoon or something like that?

DK:     Yeah.

JK:

They said, “We have mass cal coming in.”

I said to Deb, “Well, we’ve been expecting this. I’ll probably be back home in thirty to forty-five minutes. I’ll drop you off at church” —because church was only a half a mile from where we lived—“I’ll drop you off at church and you can walk home, and then I’ll be home most likely by supper time.”

As I went into the hospital I realized that there’s a lot of vehicles coming in with people in jeeps with lots of brass on their hats. Then I saw one of our family practice docs—who was always very calm and cool and collected—he is sprinting across the parking lot. I am thinking, “This is not good.” Everybody there came and went through the ED [Emergency Department] entrance.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

So as I went in, I stuck my head into the ED proper. There was blood everywhere. I went, “Aw shit!” So I went flying upstairs to the second floor to the OR. I looked at the tech. I said, “Have you called people in?”

He goes, “I called you.”

[screaming] “Get on the phone! This is real! Get everybody in here now! Now!”

Well, by the time the people got there I had the anesthesia in every room—cart in the room, IVs laid, drugs out, syringes out—I mean, everything was set to go—blood warmers set—everything.

I got an award for that, in fact. We had—what happened was some idiot—okay—artillery lesson. Cannons fire big rounds down range. How far down range it goes depends on two things: one is elevation of the tube; the other is what’s called charge— that’s how much powder is put in the barrel of the gun. So you’ve got five muslin bags with powder strung together, and you cut them apart. Generally, in a real life battlefield situation you’re firing all five at once. For training purposes, typically you fire charge two.

Okay?

BK:

Right.

JK:

Luckily they were firing 105s [105-millimeter howitzer, most likely referring to the M102 howitzer] which are the smallest cannons. Cannons come in three sizes in the army: 105s, which are towed; and then 155s [155 millimeter howitzer, most likely referring to the M109 Howitzer], and 8 inches [most likely referring to the towed M115 howitzer, as the self propelled M40 Motor Gun Carriage saw extremely limited deployment] —both of which are tracked vehicles. They look like tanks.

So this company—this battery was firing 105s. It was not a reserve battery. It wasn’t a training battery. It was a freaking active duty battery. This is what they did for a living. Some jerk fired charge five.

Now, I’m told that what you would hear in that would be “Kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom [louder].”  So as soon as it left the tube they knew that there was a problem. With a charge five and the elevation, instead of going a mile and a half down range it went four and half miles downrange.

It came down off a basic training battery—drawn up in formation for chow. It came up about where my buffet hutch is to you. The drill sergeants heard it coming. Luckily, they had those boys long enough that when they said “Drop and cover!” the boys dropped and covered without any question. And the drill sergeants charged the front line and laid down on top of them.

There were three dead at the scene, one dead in the ED, and one of the drill sergeants died later. He died at Fort Sam. He was the first patient we had who came in. I got him. He got almost no anesthesia    . Upside down trying to keep his blood pressure going. Had systolic blood pressure of 60 when he rolled into my OR. I gave him Pavulon [a muscle relaxant] to paralyze him and ordered nitrous oxide, so that he would not remember it. That is when we cut his leg off.

BK:

Oh God.

JK:

Because the shrapnel—he was lying down protecting his troops—on top of them—the shrapnel caught him in the back of his left leg and just tore up all the blood supply. There was no hope to keep the leg. They took his leg off high. I thought by the time that I took my next patient in to the PACU [post-anesthesia care unit]—I expected him to be dead. Instead, he was awake writing notes to his wife.

We shipped him about a week later to Fort Sam [Houston, Texas]. About a week after that they were doing a revision on his stump and had a bleeder get loose. By the time they could get it under control he had irreversible neurological damage. They kept him on life support long enough to retire him, because families get better benefits if someone is medically retired than if they die on active duty. They kept him on life support long enough to push through the medical retirement paperwork, and then took him off life support and let him go.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

We had one other kid who came through the OR twice that night. Both  lower legs, just shattered. They put him back together and took him to PACU. He broke loose bleeders and back to us. They worked on him another two hours. This was in September of ’89.

And right before I left in ’90 I walked into the PACU one day and there was this kid in civvies standing there with two canes. “Do you recognize me, ma’am?”

I said, “You got to understand soldier that most of the people I see are naked, lying horizontal, and not standing up in clothes.”

He just cracked up and told me what his name was. He was the kid with the legs. He was up and walking. He said, “They tell me that I will always need at least one cane. But you guys are the reason why I can walk at all.”

So that was not a good night. That was not a good night.

BK:

Is that the hardest thing that you had to deal with?

JK:

It was one of them. It was one of them. It probably was the ugliest. Now, one of the things that we had not talked about is that I spent nine years in Chapel Hill working on EMS [Emergency Medical Services], as a full-fledged paramedic.

BK:

When did you do that?

JK:

From ’74 to ’83.

BK:

When did you have time to do that?

JK:

I made time every thirteen days. And the year before I went to anesthesia school, I worked for them fulltime. So I’ve seen a lot of blood, guts, and gore. The thing that made that that night so bad was that it was stupidity—as most of what I saw in the rescue squad was too—it tears you up.

That’s part of what being in the army and being an army nurse is about.  At the time you deal with it. I deal with it much less well now than I did at the time. I can’t imagine how bad it is to be in a battlefield—full battlefield situation. When I was in the army it would have been fine in that sense. I would have handled it all right. I was pretty much STRAC [military slang for “Skilled, Tough, and Ready Around the Clock”] was the term for it.

BK:

How do you spell that?

JK:

STRAC—S-t-r-a-c-k [sic], I guess. It was a term that we used, meaning “very put together”.

DK:     Very military.

JK:

Very military—brass on the right, military attitude, hard nose—yadda, yadda—that kind of stuff. Yes, and I was—I was very STRAC. Things did not bother me outwardly.

BK:

Why do you think that?

JK:

Because you suck it up and you keep going, which is basically the attitude of the military. You accomplish the mission regardless. It is the mission that matters. You do what needs to be done—period. That is very much the case. And certainly that has helped me with my disease now. You do what has to be done and keep going. You don’t, “Oh gee, I can’t do this.” When you think that a year ago—just over a year ago—I had a hole in my hip four inches by four inches down past the bone. I came home from the hospital a year and two weeks ago totally walker-dependent, and couldn’t lift my left foot more than a half an inch off of the floor.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And, you know, yeah I still use the walker. It’s convenient, in the house, but I get out. I move around. I drive. I do pretty much what I want to. I tire easily, but that is beside the point. But you do what you have to do.

BK:

Right.

JK:

And you keep going. That’s what you do in the army—you accomplish the mission—particularly to me in the medical department. I joined the army for—because I always wanted to be a soldier and its fun to do the soldier stuff, but also to look after the soldiers and their families. That is what I joined the army to do as a nurse—to look after the troops.

One of the things that drove me nuts was in the first Gulf War I was in Germany.  I came down on levy to go to Iraq. Because what they were doing was they were recon—South med [United States Army Southern Regional Medical Command] has paper hospitals.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

What those are the hospitals that they constitute out of the personnel that are predominately in Europe to deploy other places—most of the time they are at their home bases in Germany or in Brussels or wherever they are in Europe. So I came down on levy to go to Iraq. Now, I don’t know for sure why. I don’t know if the biddies in Heidelberg just didn’t read my record all the way down and stopped at the fact that I was civilian-trained, and didn’t notice at that I was nine years an anesthetist and had been through the combat casualty course and been through medical management of chemical causalities course. I had been in the desert less than a year before, but for whatever reason they pulled me off the levy and sent an army trained anesthetist—six months out of school and none of the rest of the training or experience.

It ticked me off very badly, because troops need the best skilled people looking after them that it is possible to give them. I was that person, not some guy six months out of school. On the other hand, personally I was very grateful. And it’s only occurred to me in the last couple of months—as I thought back on that—that part of it may also have been that in that same time frame I pinned on my major’s leaves. It may have been a captain’s billet that went.

I know that my chief nurse—not my chief anesthetist—but my chief nurse from Fort Sill had gone to DA as the chief of the assignments division there for the nurse corps.          She called me in Germany and said, “I just thought you’d be interested in something that happened about an hour ago.”

I said, “What would that be, ma’am?”

She said, “The biddies in Heidelberg called me and saw that your number was coming up on their list and wanted to know if it was a mistake that you were that high on the list, or should they let you go ahead and pin-on.”

I said, “Okay. And you told them?”

“I told them to quit being biddies and to let you pin-on!”

“Thank you ma’am.”

BK:

That’s great.

JK:

Because when I came out on the major’s list—[sound of chair squeaking] sorry about that—

BK:

It’s all right.

JK:

When I came out on the major’s list by date of rank. Usually it’s just by date of rank. By date of rank—out of a list of about 110 of us—I should have been around 106 or 107, but I was 70. Which doesn’t seem like much, but it’s an “atta boy” kind of thing. When they saw that they actually had the nerve to call DA and say, “Did you put her in an accidental spot here?”

“No!”

BK:

Wow. So how did you get from Fort—the story—I mean, we kind of skipped over how you got from Fort Sill to Germany. Was there anything in between that?

JK:

No. I did a lot of training back and forth in there. I spent nine weeks of living hell at Fort Leavenworth with CAS Cubed. That is where I met—

BK:

How do you spell that?

JK:

C-A-S-S-S. It’s Combined Arms Services Staff School.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

So if you abbreviate it, it’s CAS to the third power—CAS Cubed.

BK:

Oh, okay. I got it. You were just transferred there or what?

JK:

Well, it’s TDY [temporary duty assignment]. Its nine weeks TDY. It’s required of all mid grade captains regardless of what branch you’re in. What they do is they take twelve captains of various branches and put them with one lieutenant colonel, and then you run through this lovely group of exercises. The reason this was set up was what they found was that captains became very good at communicating up the change of command and down the change of command, but they didn’t communicate with each other well. Now, that becomes a problem when you go on to battalion, brigade, and division staffs, because the G1 needs to be able to talk to the G2 to the G5 to the G4, yadda, yadda. They’ve got to talk.

And if you’re not used to communicating at the horizontal level, then the staffs don’t run well. So CAS Cubed was set up as a way of teaching these captains—mid-grade captains—that they had to—how to communicate. There were five things, but communicate, coordinate and cooperate were the three that I remember—the three c’s of it.

BK:

So not in the nursing courses but all—

JK:

All captains. We had infantry ranger—that was Vince Brooks. We had artillery. We had armor tanker. We had armor scout. We had JAG [Judge Advocate General's Corps]. We had chemical corps. We had MP [Military Police Corps]. We had medical service corps. We had nurse corps. We had signal corps. We had transportation. I left somebody out, but there were twelve of us.

BK:

This as about ’90, ‘80?

JK:

This was ’89.

BK:

’89?

JK:

‘88—Spring of ’88. Yeah. Spring of ’88.

DK:     It was after my knee surgery.

JK:

Yup. Spring of ’88 —January of ’88 until late March. It was mid January to late March. I got to see the Missouri River break its freeze. That was kind of neat, to watch the ice floes. But what was funny in it was that as time went by—they would work you to death—but it was why I have owned a PC since February of ’88. I realized that I was either going to spend the money to buy the computer, or I was never going to sleep. I spent the money to buy a computer, I’ll get about four hours of sleep a night. Don’t spend the money, not going to sleep at all.

BK:

Because you had to write or—

JK:

You had to write.  You had to write and write.  You got swamped with homework, basically, that had to be done in small groups. It was all small group stuff.

BK:

So it was all about communication?

JK:

Yeah. And it drove some of the guys crazy, because they were used to trying to turn out really good fine work. But the point was not turning out really good fine work. The point of the exercise was that you had to turn out the work as well as you could, but the real point of the exercise was learning to work together.

BK:

Were there other women in this group?

JK:

The only other woman in my group was the medical service officer. I figured out the first day that I wanted nothing to do with her, because as much as I was STRAC she wasn’t.

DK:     She was flack.

JK:

Yeah.

I was going to be—it was going to be contamination by association if I had anything to do with her. I very quickly said, “Guys, I really need to change seats. Can somebody change seats with me?” And Doug, God bless him, he changed seats with me.

And about two weeks later he said, “I figured out why you wanted to change seats! Am I right?”

“Yeah, thank you!”

“You owe me.”

“I know.”

BK:

But being STRAC I would imagine you get along better with the men?

JK:

Oh yeah.  I mean she was the worst of one of the—Did you ever see Private Benjamin [a 1980 American comedy starring Goldie Hawn and later television series that ran between 1981-1983]?

BK:

Was she Private Benjamin?  

JK:

No, she was the captain.

BK:

The Captain, okay.

JK:

Just total ditz.

BK:

Oh, wow!

JK:

Focused on everything wrong. I mean it was horrible. It was just horrible and—but anyway, time goes by.

BK:

Yes. 

JK:

One of the things that I figured out was I could get away with a whole lot by smiling—as a nurse—smiling sweetly and going “With all due respect, sir.” One point I said—as he is passing out humongous amounts of paperwork homework on a Friday afternoon— “With all due respect sir, I’ve never seen a lieutenant colonel enjoy raping a bunch of captains so much in my life.”

BK:

Really? Wow.

JK:       And the line officers are all going, “Oh my God, she’s off the wall!” Colonel Pollard’s grin just got bigger as he stepped down the line.

BK:

Wow.

DK:     I gave her that.

JK:

But I eventually figured out the reasons they make nurses go—because we will never be on staff.

BK:

Yes.

JK:

Nurses don’t serve on staffs.

BK:

Right.

JK:

But we were there partly to help the guys learn how to communicate, because that is one of the things that nurses do—is we communicate.

DK:     I gave her that.   

JK:

So there we are.

DK:     For volleyball—

JK:

Yeah. God, volleyball—they made us play volleyball as a paradigm of a land-air battle. Mostly it was to work off energy so that we didn’t kill each other or them.

BK:

Right.

JK:

But they started—I started getting a lot of G-2 kinds of work, which is the military intelligence.

BK:

Yes.  Now is this still at the—

JK:

This is still at CAS Cubed, and he called me into his office right before we were going to fight the war. The last week of this, as it is with a lot of classes, is fighting the war. And at the time the war you fought was always in Europe, because this was before the [Berlin] Wall fell and all of that.

BK:

Yes. 

JK:

So we were fighting the war in Europe.

And he called me in and he said “We are going to be a brigade. We are going to play a brigade.”

And I said, “Okay.”

And he said, “And I am kicking you and Vince up to division.”

And I went, “Well, thank you, sir.” I am thinking, “Why are you kicking me up to division? Vince, I understand, because Vince was going up as division commander.” Like I said, it was obvious to us then that he was going to be a general.

BK:

Vince, what’s his last name?

JK:

Brooks.

BK:

Brooks, okay. And he’s—

JK:

He is now a brigadier general the last time I saw him on TV [television]—he was brigadier general—or read about him. [Vincent Brooks was promoted to major general in April of 2009.]

BK:

Yes. Where is he?

JK:

At Hood [Fort Hood, Texas].  At the last time I heard anything, but that has been about seven years.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

So I understood Vince getting kicked up. But I said, “Why are you kicking me up?”

And he said, “Oh, and you’re going up as an assistant G-2.”

And I went, “What?” 

And he said, “Well, you’re good at it.”

JK:

Well, then I just sat down and laughed. He says, “It’s not that funny.”

“Yes, it is, sir.”

BK:

[laughter]

JK:

“Let me explain.” So I went through and explained what I had originally intended to do in my life.

BK:

Right.

JK:

Which was Spook work—G-2 is Spook work. And he says, “You would have been good at it.”

“Thank you, sir.”

So they kick us up—Vince and I go to this other group. Colonel Mueller was the commander there and he was a M.I. [Military Intelligence] Officer.

BK      That’s M-u-e-h-l-e-r?

JK:

Yeah. M-u-e-l-l-e-r.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

And he was himself a M.I. officer. And the official local G-1 [JK corrected later: G-2] was also an M.I. officer—female—who didn’t like my being kicked up as her assistant.  I was a nurse!

BK:

Oh. Right.

JK:

What would I know?

So I walk in this room and they have this banner up there, and I understood what they meant by it.  But what they had up was, “Arbeit Macht Frei.

BK:

What does that mean in English?

JK:

“Work makes free.” It’s the sign—

BK:

Oh no!

JK:

—on the concentration camps.

I walked in, I looked at it, and I looked at Colonel Mueller and I said, “When I walk in this room tomorrow” —I said, “Sir, I’m sorry—when I walk in this room tomorrow that sign will be gone.”

He looked at me and I said, “It is offensive to the nth degree.”

BK:

Yes.

JK:

“When I walk in this room tomorrow that sign will be gone.”

And he said, “Noted, captain.”

“Yes, sir.”

I walked out of the room. I walked in the next morning and they’re going “Where’s our sign?”

Colonel Mueller says, “Not here.” 

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And it was gone. So, little twit was trying to make points with the M.I. officer, you know, “I want to show you what a good M.I. officer I am.”

BK:

This the female M.I.?

JK:

Yes.

So we’re playing the game, and part of what M.I. does in those situations is “do we have any new reports?” —I mean, Spook work—“Do we have any reports of chemical warfare or anything like this?”

“Now the prevailing wind”—she got going with this—“Prevailing winds are coming from this direction, so of course there’s not a problem with that.”

“Excuse me sir, what I learned in Medical Management Chemical Casualties Course was that such-and-such an agent can be laid down by da-da-da and it’s oily, so the prevailing winds would not have an effect on it. And we might want to send out a warning to the brigades to watch out for” —

Boy, if looks could kill that would be it.

And Colonel Mueller goes, “Thank you captain, that’s a very good idea. We’ll send that out.”

And then I really could have gotten killed.

Well, I’m thinking, “You know, honey, if you’d be doing your job right here, I wouldn’t be having to making you look like the little twit that you are—so sorry.”

And then at the end, General [Carl E.] Vuono—who was then the general of the army—the four-star general for the army.

BK:

Spell that.

JK:

V-u-o-n-o.

BK:

All right, wow.

JK:

He came through to do a visit. So then, of course, he’s coming through all the groups and he comes to ours. And Vince and I—now Vince is—

You think 6’5”?

DK:     Three.

JK:

Three? You think he’s only three? Okay, a lot taller than I am at any rate.

DK:     Everyone is taller than you are.

JK:

[chuckle] True.

I wear a brace [JK corrected later: sling]. I had torn a triceps muscle playing volleyball. That’s the muscle back here. So I’m in a sling and a swathe like so, which covers up my name. Now, we’re all captains here. We’re all braced at attention. Vince is to my right, so my right arm and his right arm are—my right arm and his left arm—are right up against each other.

Vince is a West Point grad. So he has learned how to keep his face absolutely straight. General Vuono knows Vince’s dad, because Vince‘s dad is a general. So he stops and he talks to him. He comes to me. He says, “Well, Captain, what happened to you?”

And without a thought, out of my     mouth pops, “Oh sir, I gave my all for volleyball.”

DK:     [laughs]

JK:

I could see the lieutenant colonels in the back of the room having fits—except for Colonel Pollard who was just doing this. I could feel Vince’s arm start to shake.

General Vuono kind of blinked a couple of times, and he says, “Uh, yes, well, carry on.”

“Thank you sir”—and he moved on.

BK:

You did that with a straight face?

JK:

Well, yeah.

BK:

Oh wow.

JK:

He left the room. Vince turned around and got down face to face to face with me. “I cannot believe that you just smarted off to a four star general!”

I said, “Vince, what is he going to do? Draft me and send me to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas? May I point out I’m here?”

BK:

Right.

JK:

I don’t know. I mean, it wasn’t intentional. He asked a question. It plopped out of my mouth. “Oh sir, I gave my all for volleyball.”

BK:

That’s t-shirt worthy—at least bumper sticker worthy.

JK:

So General Vuono was pretty good. His formal address to our group was—“I’m glad” —you know, the usual good, kind words and so forth and so on—and he says, “And I want you captains to know that there is one place that I absolutely will not be in about ten minutes, and that is standing in the parking lot because four stars are not—I know you guys are going to be leaving, and I would be nothing but a grease spot on the road.”

BK:

That’s great. You said seven weeks—nine weeks?

JK:

Nine weeks.

BK:

Nine long weeks, okay.

JK:

Nine weeks of pure-t hell.

They really did work us to death. They had what they called CAS Cubed crossing signs. You know, you see “duck crossing” signs and “deer crossing” signs—this was a pair of boots, a helmet with captain’s bars on it, and a brief case. 

BK:

That’s great.

JK:

You had your brief case. You had your boots. You had the helmet. The guys in my groups would say to me, “Jane, would you go straighten out that girl up there and get her to get her brass on right?” And I would. Or “Get her to get her hair right.” She had this straggling hair.

This was the thing. I was the platoon leader in basic. And I would—there is nothing worse than thirty newly commissioned second lieutenant nurses.

BK:

Okay, good to know.

JK:

“Do not poke yourself in the eye when you’re saluting. Salutes are not like this. Never mind how they did it on M*A*S*H [popular motion picture and television show].  Salute properly. Hide your thumbs. Straight arm”—you know.

“How do I know if I’m doing it right?”

“Ever heard of a mirror? Stand in front of the mirror. Practice your salute. Put your hair up.”

“It was up this morning.”

“Well, it’s not up now.”

I actually had one come to me and say, “Do I have to wear a bra?”

“Do you want a black eye? We’re going running this afternoon. You’re going to    give yourself a black eye with those things if you don’t rope them in.”

BK:

Right.

JK:

“Not to mention you’re going be roping them in with your belt when you’re forty if you don’t rope them in.”

I had one say to me about—my “platoon sergeant”, put that in quotation marks, was [1LT—JK added later] Marshal Hurlburt and he was six-foot-four.

BK:

That’s H-u—

JK:

H-u-r-l-b-u-r-t, I think. He had gone to school at the military academy where they filmed the film TAPS [1981 film].

BK:

Oh, in Valley Forge [Valley Forge Military Academy & College, Wayne, Pennsylvania].

JK:

Yeah. That was where he had graduated. This same little, “Do I have to wear a bra? Do I have to wear a wooly-pully [wool uniform sweater]? I think I’m allergic to wool.”

“It’s an optional piece of equipment.”

But she says—she came to me one day—she says, “Ma’am Lieutenant Hurlbert keeps talking down to me.”

“He keeps talking down to me too. Would you like him to get on his knees?”

“Well, that’s not what I mean!”

“I know that’s not what you mean, but it’s the only answer that you’re going to get! He is part of your chain of command. Get over it.”

BK:

Right.

JK:

Now that’s one that in three years I’m sure she was called off of active duty, and thank the good Lord that she was. But this is the kind of thing you deal with a lot of freshly minted second lieutenant nurses. They don’t have—they have not gone through ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps]. Lord only knows why they ever raised their hand and swore in.

The ones that I loved were the ones, “I don’t want to go on the firing range! I’m a pacifist!”

BK:

You joined the army.

JK:

Yeah. “Then why are you in the army?”

Or you get the doctors walking off the firing range in Fort Sill with one of the OR nurses—which has its own tale to it. They were walking off with one of the GMOs—the General Medical Officers—he’s a doctor who’s had one year of rotating internship and then is thrown into the emergency room in the army—walking off. And I was saying to Sandy, I wish they would let me bring my own .45 [caliber pistol] on, because I know how it fires and I have the sights fixed and all of it.

This guy goes, “Well, how would you get one of your own?”

“You walk in the gun store, lay your money on the counter and say, ‘I want that pistol.’”

Now Sandy and I—Sandy was one who would point down—her name was Sandy Beach. She would say, “I can’t believe I did that to myself,” because that was her married name. Sandra Beach—she became Sandy Beach.

She would point her pistol down range and then close her eyes and then squeeze off the rounds. So she was in the spot next to me. They cleared the range and you walk down range to pick up your targets, then your safety NCO [Non Commissioned Officer] scores them.

So we get down there and my little NCO says to me, “I don’t know how to score this.”

And I said, “Why?”

He said, “You fired a ten round magazine. There are thirteen holes.”

BK:

[laughter] She hit yours then?

JK:

Yeah.

I said, “Well, I would suggest that the ten holes that are in this target are mine and those three wild ones are hers.”

He looked over at her NCO and he says, “Yeah. We’ve only got seven over here.” They were all over the place.

BK:

So you’re a good shot, huh?

JK:

Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

BK:

Did you learn that growing up?

JK:

Nope. I was actually taught by one of my reserve folks who in his civilian occupation was teaching executive security. He was part of the New Orleans police department sting against David [Ernest] Duke and the KKK [Knights of the Ku Klux Klan].

BK:

Wow.

JK        He did PSYOPs [Psychological Operations] in the army. It tells you how rather different this kind soul was. But he’s who taught me how to shoot, but like many woman I have a natural affinity for it, too. Let me tell you, you don’t want to be in her way. She shoots both hands. [referring to Deb Kohten]

BK:

Good to know.

DK:     I shoot better with my off hand than my dominant hand.

BK:

Why do you think women shoot better?

JK:

It’s for the same reason that women are better at most kinds of fine work that require good eye-hand coordination.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

Is that the good Lord blessed us with better eye-hand coordination, by and large, than men. The firearms specialists will tell you this—is that women are typically better shots.

DK:     It’s a genetic thing.

JK:

When I went through and did for concealed carry I hadn’t fired in fifteen years and I walked onto the range and did my qualifying shot on the first go-around with a brand new, unfamiliar weapon—and not having fired in fifteen years. Out of fifty rounds you had to put forty in seven or closer, and I had forty three seven or closer.

BK:

Wow, that’s great.

JK:

It’s just—I know how to shoot.

BK:

Got it.

JK:

And I like it.

BK:

So after CAS Cubed three what happened—or CAS Cubed.

JK:

After CAS Cubed I went back. They—I went to—We deployed Bright Storm [sic] [Operation Bright Star refers to a series of joint training exercises led by American and Egyptian forces from 1980 onwards] with the 47th. It went to Egypt for about—well, the unit was there for about four months. I was there for two. I came home right at Thanksgiving.

DK:     Yeah. We were grateful that you got back the day before Thanksgiving—finally.

JK:

Well, I found out that C-5As [The C-5A is a variant of the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy military transport             aircraft] break. They’re the big air force transport planes, and they break. You land, it’s broke.

BK:

Got it.

JK:

We spent three days hung up in Torrejon [Air Base], Spain, because we flew out of Cairo in a C-5A, we landed in Torrejon which is the first lap home.

BK:

How do you spell that?

JK:

Torrejon: T-o-r-r-e-j-o-n.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

And it was broke. So we spent the night there, shaking sand out. Three days in a row I unpacked everything out of  my duffel, shook out Egyptian sand, and still when I got home, I was still shaking out Egyptian sand.

BK:

This was’90?

JK:

This was ’89.

DK:     We had more come out when the car got shipped to Germany.

JK:

I know. Nine months later, shipped the car to Germany, and we’re still sweeping Egyptian sand out of it. But three days in a row we went and spent the day sitting in the terminal in Torrejon. And she was still broke.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

I think the only reason we got out of there—we eventually got out of there and we got to Dover and she was broke. What they did then instead of fixing her, they transferred us. We had AWACS [airplane fitted with Airborne Warning and Control system] with us. The air—spy planes, basically. The AWACS planes—they were what were being transported in the belly of this thing [Lockheed C5-A]. You have to understand. C-5As—when you’re riding them as a passenger—you go in and you climb up this rather steep ladder, two stories up.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

Those things are absolutely humongous.  

BK:

They’re carrying other planes.

JK:

Yeah. They’re carrying other planes in their belly.  The AWACS were going back to Tinker [Air Force Base] which was the Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

And if it hadn’t been for the fact that they were flying back to Tinker, I don’t think they would have been willing to transfer us poor medical pukes. We didn’t matter, but AWACS did. So we were able to get back that way.

BK:

You were in Cairo for how long did you say?

JK:

For about two months.

BK:

Two months, okay.

JK:

We were out in the middle of the Sahara [Desert] basically. We were on an Egyptian Air Force base outside of Cairo [most likely Cairo West Air Base, Egypt]. We were on the air force base that the Israelis bombed the crap out of in ’73.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

Not far from where the hospital was, was a piece of an Israeli jet that they had shot down. They pointed to that as an indication that they had won the war in ’73. “Uh, whatever you say.” [The 1973 Yom Kippur War is considered to be an Israeli tactical victory.]

BK:

Now, how come it was such a short time?

JK:

It was for Operation Bright Star. Bright Star was a multinational, multiforce exercise.

BK:

It was an exercise, okay.

JK:

—training exercise.  We were there in support of Bright Star. We had—the encampment was setup by the air force. Outside the main compound—where mess tent was and all—there were actually tents setup that had flush toilets in them—in the field!

BK:

Wow. That’s huge. 

JK:

It’s stupid. I couldn’t believe it—in the field, having flush toilets. The ones by the sleep tents were the standard latrines. I took pictures of them. I don’t think they’re in this batch, but I had pictures of them. The odd thing was—okay, here’s the toilet—the dividers—but when you came in you are walking out there, and it’s two steps up to get to the toilet. So people are walking along and you were going, “Good morning. Good morning.” You know, “Hello.” [unclear] [Point is, sitting on the toilet, your crotch was pointed straight at the people passing by looking for an empty space- so if you were looking for a space you tried not to look too directly!—JK added later]

BK:

Did you have training—sort of training casualties, or—

JK:

No. We had casualties, because they were doing night drops, and we had a guy who picked during Bright Star to have a gallbladder attack. We had an Egyptian flyer who proved—what I always thought—which is that running is bad for your health. He was out for his morning run and got hit by a truck.

BK:

So you weren’t there as part of training? You were there to take care of the people?

JK:

Oh yeah, no, we weren’t training. The combat arms people were training. We were there to look after them.

BK:

Just wanted to clarify.

JK:

Yeah. We weren’t training, although it certainly served as good desert training. Had I stayed at Fort Sill two months later—two months longer—I would have been in [Kingdom of] Bahrain, because I left Sill mid-June of 1990. By the end of August of 1990—well, the end of July—[Saddam] Hussein [President of the Republic of Iraq] rolled into Kuwait.

DK:     About two more weeks and they would have frozen your transfer and you would have been stuck.

JK:

Yup.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And by the end of August the 47th Field [Hospital unit] was in Bahrain.

BK:

Did you want to go to Germany?

JK:

No, but I didn’t have good options otherwise. And Germany turned out to be a place of great blessing for me in my life.

BK:

Now did your family go? 

DK:     I was it.

JK:

Eventually Deb—Jonathan was in college. He came over for visits. The army would pay one round trip for college students [per] year. Deb after—when she came the second summer, she stayed, and picked up college through the University of Maryland European Division.

BK:

Okay. I’m sorry, when you said that you didn’t have good options what did you mean by that?

JK:

They gave me the option of Fort Lee, Virginia, which would have been geographically wonderful. But my boss at Fort Sill—who by that time was Tim—I’m blanking on the name again, because I didn’t have him very long. But he called a friend of his that was working at Walter Reed and did TDY there. The upshot of their conversation was, “If you like the person they’re offering this position to, then tell them not to come.”

BK:

Wow.

JK:

Well, you don’t have to tell me twice. One of the options was to go to the Mohave Desert, which used to be Fort Irwin [California]. That used to be a hardship tour. You would be there a year—it would be like going to Korea—you’d be there a year, and then you could pick your assignment and go somewhere else. Well, they had just turned it into a four year assignment. It’s a two person billet. So you’re on the call every other day, every other weekend or a week at a time. It was like, “I don’t think so.” I just came out of the desert. I liked the desert in a way, but I don’t want to spend—the closest town was Barstow, California, and             that’s forty-five minutes away, and I don’t think so.

BK:

Right. So you couldn’t have stayed at Fort Sill.

JK:

Right. I had been at Fort Sill for four and a half years already. I actually did inquire about the possibility of transferring back to the MEDDAC. They said, “Oh get a grip on reality.”

“Okay.”

BK:

Okay.

JK:

So the third choice was Germany, in Wuerzburg. That’s where I went. I spent three and a half years there. I actually asked to extend my tour by six months in Wuerzburg, but part of that reason was I was already into the process of applying for medical discharge. I didn’t want to move and move. That didn’t make sense. So in ’92 I had a bowel torsion.

BK:

And what is a bowel torsion?

JK:

It’s a twist.

BK:

It’s a twist, ow. That sounds very painful.

JK:

It was. It was definitely not a pleasant experience. I lost twenty-four inches of small bowel. It left me with enough residual problems that it made me non-deployable worldwide. And I joined the army to be a soldier. I could be a nurse anywhere. I joined the army to do soldier stuff. I had become unable to do the soldier stuff, so it didn’t make sense.

So I actually asked for a medical board and got it. We applied for it actually under—for my back. Because when I went to Combat Casualty Care Course, we had a training accident and I crunched a vertebra. And we applied for discharge on the basis of the crunched vertebra, but what actually got me discharged was my gut. It was what has me on essentially full disability now for the VA [United States Department of Veterans Affairs], because of the problems I had three years ago with it.

BK:

Wow, cool.

JK:

I am very grateful in that sense. The army and the military and the VA system have been good to me. Now, I don’t deal with them on a regular basis for any of my care, but as far as the disability and all, they’ve been good to me. Well, I’ve been on some level of disability, of course, ever since I came out, but they upped my disability three years ago.

BK:

Okay. So what was your most memorable decoration or award, would you say?

JK:

The most memorable would be the ARCOM [Army Commendation Medal], which came out of the—

BK:

The mishap?

JK:

The mishap at Sill.

BK:

And your highest rate, again?

JK:

Major. I was a midgrade major on discharge. I doubt that I ever would have—in fact, I know that I would not have made lieutenant colonel, because I had, by that time, made the decision that I was not going to do Command and General Staff. I did not want to see Fort Leavenworth again, thank you very much. As a CRNA I would have been able to stay in full twenty as a major, because they’re desperate for CRNAs.

And I will tell you one of the things that’s going to happen, if they push through and do away with the Hyde Amendment. Do you know what the Hyde Amendment is?

BK:

No.

JK:

It’s no federal funds for abortion. If they do away with the Hyde Amendment they are going to have an unseen problem. One of the reasons a lot of people in the military like—it’s kind of a sub-benefit, is that you don’t have to deal with abortion. There is no ability to say in the military, “This is against my conscience, I won’t do it.” They can directly order you to do it. The first time I would have been ordered to deal with an abortion I would have walked into the commander’s office and resigned my commission. There’s going to be a number of people who do that—who will not be forced to do that.

BK:

Interesting.

JK:

I had an OBGYN [doctor in the fields of Obstetrics and Gynecology] in Germany put one over on me.

BK:

How?

JK:

We had a girl whose husband had been in the states for five months on training, and she was three months pregnant. And it was brought in as what was called a “missed abortion.” [sic] The baby has died and hasn’t been passed. You do a D and C [Dilation—or Dilatation—and Curettage]. And we were—I put in a saddle block. And when he actually started the procedure I realized that what we were doing was not a D and C with a missed abortion, but an abortion. I’m stuck at that point. I can’t abandon a patient, I had nobody else. It was an on-call case—there was nobody else. What I did do was go to my boss the next day and say—or the next Monday because this was late on a Friday afternoon—the first thing I did was go to the Catholic chaplain and went to confession and said [noise].

He says, “I didn’t think that we did those.”

“We are not supposed to.”  

Told him what happened, he says, “Don’t worry, you’re right, you were stuck. No sweat there.”  He said, “But you need to tell your boss.”

I said, “Oh, trust me, I am going to.”

The boss was not Catholic but also not pro-abortion at all. So I told him what had happened. He said, “Okay. We can’t do anything about that one, but I guarantee you that every other case that he ever brings us will be gone over with a fine-toothed comb, because it’s against army regulations—never mind the conscience issue.”

It’s against army regs!

BK:

Were you in charge of anyone in Germany?

JK:

I was actually junior—as a mid-grade major, I was a junior officer in the department.  There were a lot of TOADs in Germany: that’s a “Tourist on Active Duty.”

BK:

What does that mean?

JK:

They’re there. Work is not their big thing, they’re looking forward to the next weekend so they can go touring.

BK:

Got it.

JK:

The guy who came—

DK:     And they have enough rank to insure that they get to stay there.

JK:

Right. Now the guy who came—the captain, the male captain came not long before I left—actually refinanced his house in Colorado before he transferred to Germany, so they’d  have the extra money to go touristing [sic, touring]. I mean it was a pain in the—and my boss was forever, “Oh, I know it’s your day to leave early, but I’ve got something that’s just come up that I really have to take care of.”

Well, what am I going to say—no?

BK:

Right.

JK:

But it only happened on days like this.

BK:

Right, got it.

JK:

When, you know—good golfing days. Eventually he got in trouble for it—broke my heart—just broke my heart.

BK:

[chuckles] So when you were in charge it was actually training other people?

JK:

Yeah. At Fort Sill I was the—I was second in command of the department at Sill.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

But—so I did a lot of the administrative kinds of stuff there, but in Germany not much.

BK:

All right.

JK:

I was just a little peon.

BK:

Got it. Did you think you experienced any sexual discrimination on or off the job?

JK:

Yes and no. Not in the sense of anybody hitting on me. I do not have the personality. I don’t know about the looks and the figure. I did okay in figure those days, but looks, I don’t know about. But I don’t have the personality that invites somebody trying to get fresh.  Particularly then—it was pretty much clear, “Lay hands on me, draw back a nub.”

BK:

Got it.

JK:

But what we had, it was—Let’s just say that with my boss in Germany, two departing female CRNAs made IG [Office of Inspector general] complaints against Ron Howes. I was the second one.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And it was gender discrimination, not sexual discrimination. I mean, he didn’t do it to the guys, because they were the guys—they were his buddies—but he did it to us. And he’s screwed Jackie and me both over pretty thoroughly in terms of behavior. I—my medical board came back mid October of ‘90 that said “unfit for duty:”—very clearly— “unfit for duty in the MOS [Military Occupation Specialty] of sixty-six foxtrot [Army MOS 66F Nurse Anesthetist].  

BK:

Yes.

JK:

I worked a full schedule all the way up ‘til I left Germany at the end of November.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

They came to pack me out the Monday after Thanksgiving. He had me on call for all four days of Thanksgiving weekend. 

BK:

Wow.

JK:

The year before I had—I was on call Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And when I complained about being on call for all three major holidays, “Well, you’re off on New Year’s Eve.”

“Yeah, and I had to be ready to be able to do cases at 7:00 o’clock on New Year’s Day! Makes for a good party on New Year’s Eve, don’t you think?”

This is the kind of—it was subtle, but this was the kind of stuff that he did.

BK:

And that’s H-a-u-s?

JK:

H-o-w-e-s.

And it’s funny because there’s a CRNA here now that I met through a church class, who got out of the army, I guess now probably five years ago. When we were doing the thing that army—particularly army CRNA’s do—but any army guys—“Did you know?  Did you know?” So when we got to Ron, Dennis is going—[makes noise]—that sucked on a lemon look.

“Ah, you do know him!” [chuckles]

BK:

Right. That’s great.

JK:

“Yeah, I know him.”

BK:

Now through your whole career did you find that attitudes towards women sort of changed, or they’re about the same?

JK:

For me they were about the same, and I think it’s because I was nurse corps. I would say that more what I saw change was the attitude towards the men in the nurse corps.  

BK:

Oh, that’s interesting.

JK:

That the men were much more accepted and not looked at as something a little off.

BK:

Now by the regular army or the nurse–within the nurse corps, or both?

JK:

Within the nurse corps. And, of course, there is getting to be, I think, more acceptance. What I did see was more acceptance by the line officers of the nurses as actually being soldiers.

BK:

That’s good.

JK:

They began to run into—you’re seeing—I was seeing more and more like me who were very STRAC nurses, and who were willing to step up.

BK:

Yes.

JK:

And be active participations and not little lilies in the process.  Oh, the tale Deb wanted me to tell from the escape and evasion.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

This was at Combat Casualty Care Course.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

They turned—

BK:

This was still at Ft. Sill?

JK:

Well, I was stationed at Sill, this was actually going on at Camp Bullis [Military Training Reservation, Texas].

BK:

Okay.

JK:

Which is north of San Antonio. It’s part of the big training program that they have for all of the army medical department, so we had dentists, we had doctors, we had nurses. We had everybody from medical departments doing combat casualty care, so you’re learning trauma stuff and bone care and insertion of central lines and debridement of wounds and insertion of chest tubes and—aspirating cardiac infusions, pericardial effusions, and all that stuff—you know, very hands-on kinds of things.

But one of the things they did was this lovely little exercise where you turn sixty doctors, nurses et cetera, et cetera, loose about a hundred and fifty yards—two hundred yards—away from “safe,” and put six marines in between here and “safe.” You had to go over a hill and down a hill, across a meadow, and up a road and then you could be safe. You had your little card. If the marines caught you then you handed them your own card you got to walk home.

BK:

Now what would “catching” be? Like would they pull their weapon on you, or did they physically have to—like flag football?

JK:

They would just say, “Hey, I got you.” You know, they had to see you.  

BK:

Right. Okay.

JK:

So we’re all done up in our camo and all of this, and it’s a nice moonlit night. There’s a road—there is a concrete flow down this thing. It’s October— November—fall at any rate—leaves are down, so where there’s trees it’s nice and rustly [sic] and they make lots of sound.

They’re walking back and forth, “I see you, rabbit”—you know—taunting. I came down right beside the concrete flow—there were little places where it leveled off and there was gravel and it was kind of gray looking. I came down in full view of them. They never saw me.

BK:

Why do you think that is?

JK:

Well, because I know what I am doing.

BK:

And you’re about forty or so when you are doing this?

JK:

Yes, and I’m little so I would come down to one of the little slightly leveled off spots and just hunker down, and they would walk by. And I’m still—

BK:

Wow.

JK:

—so I blended in, they didn’t see me.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

They would get past and I’d move down, and they’d look back. I’m not moving.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

So I get down the hill. I get into—under a big pine tree—two people come diving into the tree on the other side. He snatches them, he doesn’t see me.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

He went by close enough I could have hamstrung him. They did tell us, “Do not aggress the aggressors. These marines will hurt you if you lay a hand on them.”

BK:

Right.

JK:

But I—had it been in a real situation I could have hamstrung the guy.

BK:

Right.

JK:

—very easily.

BK:

Never walk again.

JK:

Right. Because I mean he was right there, and it would have been a very simple thing to hamstring him. So I move on to the next tree, and by this time it’s starting to get a little darker. A deuce and a half pulls up [a member of the family of United States Army M35 2 ½ ton cargo trucks], guy climbs out, and takes a whiz.

BK:

[laughs] Jeez.

JK:

Okay then.

He gets back in his truck. He leaves. I move on down the way. This time I’m getting tired. I wait for a Marine to walk by and I stood up and went, “Excuse me!” He about jumped out of his skin. I said, “I’m tired now. Can I go home? You can have my card.”

He’s look at me like where, “Where did you come from?”

“That tree.”

“I just walked by that tree.”

“I know. I was there.”

So he takes my card and I walk home.

And they had us pulled up in formation afterwards—yadda, yadda, yadda—they had this guy pointing out that you can’t light cigarettes. They had a guy up on a hill about two hundred—three hundred yards away—

BK:

You still could see the—

JK:

—and you could still see the flash of the light.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

So they said then, “Anybody got any questions?”

Me, I raised my hand.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I’d just like to know who the SOB was who took a whiz in the tree three feet in front of my face.”

If the guy would have held his place nobody would have known, but he turned bright red and edged around behind his deuce and a half. [laughs]

BK:

Excellent.

JK:

So at that point everybody knew who it was.

BK:

Right, right. That’s a great story. Did you feel that the army treated you fairly with pay, promotion, and assignments?

JK:

Yes, absolutely. One of the good things that they did while I was there was that they began to do pro-pay—professional pay scale for CRNAs. So that a CRNA got an extra amount of money above our pay grade. I actually made—I had more take home pay from the army from the get-go than I was making civilian side.

BK:

Really? Wow.

JK:

Yes. Partly because I was getting paid crap in Burlington, but also because a lot of what your pay in the army is—is not taxable. Your allowance for quarters and such is not taxable, so that helps your take-home pay.

What I do not think is good—and what I think is a national shame—is the fact that junior enlisted have to subsist on food stamps. And in Germany—now the guys who live in the barracks that’s not true obviously, but their families—where you’ve got a PFC for instance who’s married with a kid or two kids—they’re eligible for food stamps. That is a fighting shame! And in Germany there are no food stamps!

BK:

So what do they do?

JK:

There is a little dance. They can’t—for instance, Deb worked in the shop on Leighton Barracks. They can’t give away outdated food. So what she would do was she would call the chapel, and tell chaplain or the chaplain’s assistant that, “We’re going to be getting ready to put day old bread out in the dumpster in about five minutes.” They would get it on a pallet, out, and then they would have to go to the bathroom.

BK:

Right.

DK:     —or we would take our break.

JK:

Right, and when they would come back it would be gone.

DK:     “Oh, it must have jumped in the trash can!”

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And then what they would do was that they would call the First Sergeants, and the First Sergeants would come and collect it and pass out bologna, bread—basic food—to the soldiers’ families. The army takes care of its own in that sense. It will not let them go hungry, but the fact that it’s having to do that kind of dance is a national shame.

These guys put their lives on the line for this country, and we can’t feed their families? That needs to be put up on billboards and driven into people’s—we have people sitting at home going, “I need some help! Yeah, I could work but I’ll pay a hundred and twenty dollars for my braids and my fingernails, but I’m not going to go work.” And we’ve got people in the military risking their lives, and we’re not feeding their families. That is immoral.

DK:     The Marines have made it so that until you hit E-5 or E-6 you can’t marry. You will be dishonorably discharged if you marry during that time.

JK:

You are not to marry. But you see even that—to have to tell somebody that—we’re not supporting the people who have provided our freedoms. And there’s something that I want you to read that I have hanging up on my wall on the way out.

BK:

Okay.

Who are your heroes or heroines during the time that you were in the military? Were there certain people that you admired?

JK:

Vince.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

Without any question, Colonel Willy Pollard [JK corrected later: Lieutenant Colonel] —finest officer I ever worked with—he was my lieutenant colonel in CAS Cubed—without a doubt. And I think—

DK:     LaRoy Slaughter?

JK:

Yeah. LaRoy Slaughter, and Bobby Scherb. Bobby Scherb was my chief nurse in the 47th.

BK:

S-h or S-c-h?

JK:

S-c-h-e-r-b.

BK:

What was your adjustment to civilian life like?

JK:

Horrible.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

Horrible. In the military PCS [Permanent Change of Station] people say—first of all, there is all that networking—“Oh, you came from Fort Sill? Did you know? When were you there?” —Duh, duh, duh—you get this automatic networking. And they go, “Oh, okay, we have this job, this job, and this job that needs to be done.” It’s usually social networking and not so much work—work is work. But you go into—if you go—if you are religious, you go into the chapel—“Can you do this, this, this?” You know, “We have jobs that—these three or four jobs, which one would you like to do? Come to dinner.” You have a sponsor when you move to a new place, who helps you get settled, who helps you find housing, who works you through the system in that particular spot.

When you come into a civilian setting, everybody’s got their friends, they have settled lives. “Oh nice to meet you—welcome.” and they go on about their business. It took me eight to ten years to break into Greensboro.

BK:

So you came here directly from—

JK:

It’s not that I didn’t have—I had friends here sooner than that, but to feel a part of the community in the army takes three to four months. On the civilian side it can take three to four to five years, and that is a shock for somebody coming out of the military. You are used to being welcomed and a place made for you. Now, you’re expected to participate in that place, but a place is made for you. It’s like coming into a dinner party and a spot is made for you; as opposed to your having to walk around and find a place where you can squeeze in.

BK:

Right, very different.

JK:

Yeah.

BK:

Any other adjustments?

JK:

Well, I went back from being—the same thing that got me medically discharged made it unwise to continue in anesthesia. So I went back from—well, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back to being a “nancy nurse.” I never thought that I had the CRNA’s attitude until I had to face the idea of going back and nursing and not being one. So I went and taught at Ragsdale [High School, Greensboro, North Carolina] for a year, taught Spanish.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

That convinced me real quick. Now it was funny, because the kids picked up very quickly on the fact that I was ex-military. But they never picked up on the fact that I was a nurse, which I thought was kind of funny. Fairly soon on somebody said, “What were you, in the army or something?”

I said, “Yes.”

So their silence goes on. The next day somebody says, “What were you in the army, a sergeant or something?”

“No, I was a major.”

One of the little junior ROTC [Reserve Officer Training Corps] voices pipes up. It goes, “That’s one of those people everybody has to salute!”

“No, not everybody, just most people.”

So it goes on and a few days later—of course, they love to get teachers off track anyway, and this is a way of doing it—“When you were in the army did you have to shoot a gun?”

“Okay, let’s got some terminology correct. In the military a gun is a piece of artillery, like a cannon. I think what you’re asking is did I have to fire a weapon. And the answer is, every year or six months I had to qualify with either a nine mil[limeter] pistol, a .45 caliber pistol, or an M-16 rifle. And before you ask, I always fired expert. And to answer your original question, yes, I have shot a gun—a 105 howitzer. Now, moving on.” I had a lot less problems out of that class after that.

BK:

I can imagine. So after your year teaching you did nursing?

JK:

I went back into nursing. I spent nine months at The Evergreens [nursing home in Greensboro, NC]—it’s hard too—because here’s another piece—you come out as an CRNA—an ex-CRNA. They look at you and they go, “Why aren’t you still in anesthesia?” And you explain it to them and then they still don’t like the idea. “Something wrong with you.”

It was hard to break into the system there. I worked there and then I got a job at Cone [Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital, Greensboro, North Carolina].

BK:

In anesthesiology?  

JK:

No.

BK:

Okay.

JK:

The side effects from losing two feet of small bowel is that you have chronic and sometimes very unexpected diarrhea. You cannot get—leave quickly enough in the OR. You cannot say to an anesthetized patient, “Don’t need any changes in any of your settings. I’ll be back in five or ten minutes.” And surgeons get a little testy if you contaminate their OR.

BK:

I see. So what did you do?

JK:

I went back to being “Nancy nurse”.

BK:

A nancy nurse.

JK:

I went to—worked at Cone on 3700, which at the time was cardiac telemetry and the elective angioplasty unit. Then I moved in ’99 to women’s labor and delivery. OB was basically my first love outside of anesthesia, so I went back to birthing babies.

Unlike Butterfly McQueen [who played an inexperienced servant named Prissy called upon to help Scarlett O’Hara to bear Bonnie Blue after the burning of Atlanta, protested, “I don’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ no babies.”], I can’t say “Miss Scarlett, I don’t know nothing about birthing no babies.”

BK:

Yes, you do.

Oh, okay. So would you recommend the service to young women?

JK:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

BK:

What would you tell them if they asked?

JK:

I would tell them to expect to work hard. It helps if you go in with the idea that life is an adventure. My platoon in basic got tired of hearing that, I think, but oh well. Life is an adventure and there is not a better place to do that really than army—or military of some variety.

I like the army, because you move around more than you do even in the navy or the air force. And from a medical point of view, the billets are better. The air force hospitals are too little and a lot of places you have one- or two-man billets, like in anesthesia—at the hospitals they’re too little. Navy you get stuck out on a ship in the middle of the ocean for nine months at a time. Yeah, it’s with five thousand other people, but none the less it’s the same five thousand other people and you can’t go anywhere.

So I think the army was certainly, obviously, my way to go. I think the military is a good life, and without the military we would not have this country.  And we would not maintain this country without the military—the 1960s and early ‘70s nonsense notwithstanding. The way this country treated the returning veterans from Vietnam is a national shame as well. Those mostly young men but some young women, as well, who served in Vietnam—the young men were drafted, by and large. They didn’t ask to go to Vietnam. It wasn’t their intention. They were put there by orders. They did what they had to do to survive in a hell hole. And they came back to people throwing eggs at them and spitting on them and calling them baby killers.

This is a blot of shame on this country. We can’t change it, but the young people of today need to learn to look at veterans and say, “thank you”, whether they agree with the wars the politicians have fought or not. They need to learn to say “thank you” to those veterans.

Deb’s godfather flew Chinooks [Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy lift helicopter] in Vietnam.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

And it was his second tour in Vietnam. His first tour was in EOD [Explosive Ordinance  Disposal] which is explosives ordinance disposal. So he goes in with a Chinook to a marine fire base that was under heavy fire. The Hueys [Bell UH-1 Iroquois]—which are the little helicopters—wouldn’t go in, because the small arms fire was too heavy. Win took his Chinook in, loaded it up with a bunch of wounded marines, goes into a hospital—is flying in the CH-47, or whatever, to the hospital—“I’m coming in with wounded where do you want me to land?”

He’s got some stupid twit on the other end.  “On the helipad.”

“Are you aware of what type of aircraft I am?”

“You’re helicopter, land on the helipad.”

“Okay!”

He blew the roof off of two of the buildings with the backwash. But those are the people who have risked their lives. And like in his case, for the lives of the other soldiers. They’ve risked their lives with the idea that—in one fashion or the other—that they’re either keeping the country safe or they’re at least keeping their buddies safe.

We look at the stuff that’s going on in Iraq—all the stuff that’s going on with Abu Ghraib [A scandal involving military personnel abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq]. You take untrained soldiers who are watching their buddies be killed—I’m not justifying what they did at all, please understand that. I am not justifying what they did. But I can understand it at the same time. They were inadequately trained, inadequately supervised and put in a bad situation and bad stuff happened. But it doesn’t change the fact of whatever you think of that war—and I have my own thoughts on that, one way or the other—but these are guys who are doing their best to follow the orders they are being given by the politicians in the country.

BK:

So what are your thoughts about Iraq and Afghanistan? You don’t have to say—just—I mean it’s—

JK:

At this point, Afghanistan has a high potential for being another Vietnam. Vietnam, we should have never had gotten into. Vietnam, we could have won militarily if the politicians had stayed out of it. The military won the battles and the politicians lost the war in Vietnam. Afghanistan is a quagmire. We either need to get [Osama] Bin Laden or we need to get out. And we need to set a timeline. If we don’t have him by such and such a date, and we damn well need to not publish it!—and then get out.

So far as the Middle East is concerned, they’ve been shooting at each other for hundreds of years. The problem with all of this is it is a religious war and we don’t recognize it. We’re too damn stupid to realize it’s a religious war. And as long as we don’t realize it’s a religious war, they’re going to win it. We’re not willing to fight it on their terms. And I do not mean by that with their methods.

I’m reading a book [most likely, They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It or Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America] now by a lady named Brigitte Gabriel—Brigitte Gabriel [said with heightened pronunciation] —she’s from Lebanon originally, so she’s familiar with the Middle East mindset. She lays out pretty clearly the issues of radical Islam. And that what we look at as radical Islam is actually, as she puts it, “Islam straight”. It’s what their religion actually says. It’s straight up, taking it literally—that’s what it says.  The problem with that is increasingly the point of view that where you have moderate Muslims, they don’t speak up, and they don’t speak up because the people who say this quote, unquote, “straight view”—straight as in not watered down—will retaliate. And so, the people in power are the ones who are going to retaliate, so they’re not going to speak up. And so essentially the people we have to deal with are these folks.

And words matter—back to me as a linguist—I’ve heard people say, “But Islam means peace” —the word.

No, it doesn’t! Islam means submission. Now, that’s peace to the Muslim who submits to the will of Allah. It’s not if you’re not Muslim. So, I think we need to get out and let them shoot at each other all they want to, and quit shooting at us.

The chaplain who went to Bosnia—one of our good friends who was a chaplain in Germany, went to Bosnia—a peace loving soul—spent six months in Zagreb [Croatia] with the hospital there—he came back. I said, “What do you think ought to happen there?”

He says, “I think they oughta [sic] ring the place with artillery pointed in.”

“Are you saying, shoot them?”

He said, “No, just don’t let them come out!” 

DK:     Anyone can go in—nobody comes out.

JK:

Nobody comes out.

BK:

Got it.

JK:

That’s the best thing with the Middle East. When they quit shooting at each other, they can come out. Oil is the issue. So we need to be working more on getting non-Arab-oil-dependent. One of the things I do is that I won’t buy from gas stations that use Arab oil. You can get on the internet and find a list of who those companies are. Why put money in the pockets of the people who bombed the World Trade Center?

Do you know, it took me five years to look up the casualty list from the Pentagon?

BK:

Wow, did you know some of the people?

JK:

I knew a good number of my folks from CAS Cubed had the potential of being in that. Not only did I know Vince Brooks—who showed up on TV—but one of my CAS Cubed people—the engineer was who I left off—was in the—was the commander of the engineer brigade where the guy was lobbing grenades into the sleep tents of his own people. And he blipped on the TV. You know, they did this like five second thing from him. “Why would I know an engineer?” Then they bleeped on him again, and the next time I realized who it was. So my CAS Cubed classmates have gone on and done well.

BK:

How do you feel about women in combat positions?             

JK:

They should not be there. The army has made a bad mistake. When I first went in there were three circumstances. There was Combat Arms: infantry, artillery, and armor. There’s combat support: which is things like transportation, signal corps—transportation is what that girl was—they rescued from the hostage situation—Lindsey [Jessica Lynch was a member of the quartermaster corps, who was captured during the American led invasion of the Republic of Iraq] or whatever her name was. Then there’s combat service support, which is like the medical corps people. I don’t think women belong in even combat support units.

Now, why?

First of all it’s a matter of acceptance of the fact that physically, women don’t do the same things that men do—basic recognition of physiologic differences. I can’t—even when I was 17% body fat, leg pressing 400 pounds, and bench pressing 120—okay—part of my warm up for a workout was a tilt board like this, feet up and a hundred sit-ups.

BK:

Wow.

JK:

Okay, that was a warm up. I could not bench press the same amount as a guy could. Hello, we have different hormones. Now that’s not to say that we’re ruled by our hormones, but it’s an acknowledgment of reality. I can’t carry as heavy a pack as a guy can.

Now, does that make me less worthy? Less capable? Less worthy? No—less capable in a strictly objective fashion, yes. I am shorter than my daughter: objectively, I can’t reach as high as she can. Does that make me a less worthy person? No. Does it mean I can’t reach things on the top shelf? The reality is yes, unless I go get a ladder or something.

This translates into combat situations in ways that can cause unnecessary exposure to danger of your fellow troops. Not willingly, not deliberately, but I also think there is built in—hard wired—into men a tendency to want to protect the female of the species. And I think that has the potential of raising its head at a bad time. Under stress, we go back to instincts. I don’t think women belong out there. The other reason is that particularly considering the enemy that we are fighting now, they’re going to see that as a soft spot and they’re going to go for it. I see no reason to hand them potential targets. I just do not think it’s a good move.

I think it’s philosophically forcing a situation that rationally shouldn’t be. I mean, philosophically, women and men are equal. And in God’s eyes men and women have equal dignity. Physiologically, we have different functions—thank God—literally. I get to be a mamma—men don’t. Trust me, watching men go through pain, there’s a reason why God didn’t make them have the babies. No, I don’t think—I do not think women should be in combat positions. I really truly don’t. I know that is an unpopular attitude particularly among women—many women—these days. I don’t think—I was there. I’m capable of being that way. Women have to be trained for it no matter what.

There’s a saying that “ultimately, everybody is a leg.” Legs are infantry. In the ultimate moment, everybody is a leg. That’s why even if you’re a pacifist, you got to learn how to shoot. As a nurse you may need to know how to protect your patients because you’re being overrun by whoever.  You’ve got to protect yourself, or at the very least you’ve got to know how to protect patients. That was always my answer to nurses that say, “Why do I have to learn to shoot? I’m a pacifist.”

“You’ve got to learn how to protect your patients.”

But to—if you put on a uniform, you need to know how to fight. But to put a woman as your primary place—as your primary front line—which is what putting women in combat situations is—I don’t think is wise. If you’ve got to do it in a pinch—we’re not in that kind of pinch and I don’t like it, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I think its denying physiology. It’s denying reality. We are not—we are not slaves to our physiology in the sense that we aren’t run by our hormones. But, I just don’t think we’re thinking it through on a rational basis. I think our philosophy is running our thought processes rather than our reason.

BK:

Okay. My last question is, “Would you consider yourself a feminist?”

JK:

Define “feminist.”

BK:

It’s however you define it, I don’t think there is any hard or fast definition.

JK:

Do I consider myself—do I consider that women are of equal dignity with men? Absolutely. Do I think there should be equal pay for equal work? Absolutely. Do I think that women should be denigrated for making the choice of staying home and being a mother? Absolutely not!  And that’s what most “feminists,” in quotation marks, do.

BK:

Those are all of my questions. Is there anything else that you wanted to say that we haven’t come across?

JK:

Hooah!

BK:

Well, that’s a good ending. Well, we’re going to look at some pictures. Do you want to take a break? We’ve been doing this for—

[Recording paused at 2 hours, 41 minutes, and 5 seconds]

[Conversation regarding the donation of photographs redacted]