Former Army Nurse Reunites with a Former Patient at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial

The Vietnam Women’s Memorial is a site known for reunions and chance meetings. The 20th Anniversary of the dedication of the Memorial was no exception. During the Vietnam War, former combat soldier, Larry Sudweeks, was severely injured and spent 45 days in the 93rd Evacuation Hospital in Long Binh. When he recovered enough to be evacuated back to the States, he left without having a chance to thank the nurses who kept him alive. He didn’t even know their names. Over the years he thought about them often.

Meanwhile, Annie Koch Voigt, one of the nurses who had served at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital, wondered about him, too. Most patients only spent a few days at her hospital, but Larry could not be moved and stayed there for over 6 weeks. Part of her wondered what had happened to him after he left Vietnam, and part of her did not want to know. Finally, after decades of wondering, she looked up Sudweeks and found him in California. She sent him a picture from Vietnam of him, her, and other nurses taken on Easter Sunday. In the card she sent, she described his injuries and her memories of him. As soon as Larry read it, he knew it was the nurse he had thought about so many times over the years.

They planned to meet at the Vietnam Women’s Memorial during the 20th Anniversary celebration of the dedication of that Memorial. At the memorial, Larry, his wife Loretta, and Annie hugged and Larry finally got to say “thank you.” Loretta believes this reunion gave Larry the healing that he needed for so many years.