Christina A. Sharik

THE ANGEL OF ÐIÊN BIÊN PHÚ

Her name was Genevieve
She was a nurse and
her men called her an Angel –
I doubt she felt very much
like one –
I imagine that she felt tired,
and sad, and sick and hot
and scared
And yet
she stuck it out, and cried,
and tried, and in her
heart she wept for them
and bled for them
and cared for them the
best way she knew how.
She is remembered as
The Angel of Ðiên Biên Phú, now.
But then, she had arrived on the
last Medevac
her 40th – and it was their gain.
For she would soothe their
souls, not just their pain.
And when she smiled, the
sun shone through the rain
She was their Angel.
She was the light,
she was everything that
was right, and true –
She was the Angel of Ðiên Biên Phú.

Author’s Note: French losses were horrendous: 1726 killed, 1694 missing, 5234 wounded. When the garrison surrendered, 10,863 men – and one woman, a nurse, were marched into captivity, interspersed throughout the withdrawing Viet Minh columns, so that the victors should not suffer bombing on their way home.

The woman was the “Angel of Ðiên Biên Phú”, Genevieve de Galad-Tarraibes, a nurse who arrived on the last, ill-fated medevac flight. That was her 149th medevac, including her 40th to Ðiên Biên Phú. Fortunately for her, she was released to the Red Cross along with several hundred seriously wounded prisoners within days of the surrender. She was given France’s highest decorations, including some during the fighting. She was also made a private in the 13th Demi Brigade. [From Ðiên Biên Phú – 1954]

Mademoiselle Genevieve de Galard-Terraube
“Mademoiselle Genevieve de Galard-Terraube, French Airborne Nurse, by her ministrations to the sick and wounded Ðiên Biên Phú, inspired and heartened the entire free world. Her service to her comrades, marked by the courage of a woman in battle and by the devotion of a nurse to her sworn duty, has been unsurpassed in this century. Her supreme fortitude in hours of peril, her unfaltering dedication to her mission reflected the greatness of spirit manifested on many fields, in many centuries, by the soldiers of France.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower