We Honor Veterans Vietnam Era

It is an honor and a privilege to care for veterans facing serious illness and the end of life. Each conflict comes with its own memories and challenges as our veterans look back on their lives. Vietnam era veterans faced much different experiences as they worked in country and as they rotated home. Sometimes sharing those memories is painful and sometimes cathartic. One of these memories is shared here by the woman who experienced it.

Kathy Lee’s Story

Kansas City HospiceNew Year’s Eve, 1968. I had just landed at the 90th Replacement Center Ben Het, South Vietnam. It was over 110 degrees and I just left a snowstorm in Boston the previous day. Five days later I landed at what was to be my home for the next year, the 312th Evac Hospital. I saw individual Quonset huts lined up along a ramp. The galvanized aluminum roofs were painted white and there was a big red cross in the middle; a perfect target from the air. The crosses assisted the medevac helicopters landing with the wounded.

Lt. Kathy Lee

My schedule consisted of two shifts, days or nights, each 12 hours long. We scheduled days off, but if push came to shove and we were needed, we worked. I worked on the Vietnamese ward, triage, recovery and the malaria wards. It took me a few short weeks to get into the swing of things. It was definitely on the job training with little margin for error.  

I saw things and did things that I hope never to see again in my lifetime. There were young men with horrific injuries and incredible stamina. I witnessed pride, loyalty, and a brotherhood like no other.

“My life changed forever”

On June 8, 1969, my life changed forever.  At 0600 hours, a rocket came into our compound hitting the Vietnamese ward. I was only a few hundred yards away on the malaria ward and will never forget the sound. We all hit the floor grabbing flak jackets and helmets on the way and yelling at everyone to get on the floor. It seemed like an eternity but it was only a matter of minutes. We heard voices. Then and I looked and saw Vietnamese ward. Nothing remained –completely leveled. 

Lt. Sharon Lane

We soon discovered that one of our nurses had been killed with shrapnel to her neck. She was Lt. Sharon Lane of Canton, OH. She had only been in country six weeks, and had taken my place in the Vietnamese ward. I was only a few hundred yards away when the rocket hit. If Sharon had not arrived to replace me, it might have been me who was killed. I did not have time to really get to know Sharon very well, but we were friends.  In a place of war, friendships bond rather quickly.

Kathy and Don Lee

I still mourn the death of Sharon Lane to this day, and wonder why it was not me, but that is something I will never know. She is my hero and that will never change.  Whenever I go to The Wall in Washington D.C, I always stop by her name to “thank you for your sacrifice.” A small gesture, but a sincere one.

We Honor Veterans


Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is a proud participant in We Honor Veterans, a program of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We recognize the unique needs of America’s veterans and their families, and have programs to accompany and guide them through their life stories toward a more peaceful ending.


About Us

The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. Our vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.


  1. Sydne Dickinson on November 11, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    I wonder if this is the Kathy Lee that worked at the Kansas City VA while my husband was receiving services there. He served in Vietnam 1966-67. He felt the movie, Platoon, was a good representation of his tour. He served in the 35th Infantry Regiment as well as the 4th Infantry Division. In the movie Charlie Sheen wore the same patch on his sleeve Richard wore. After the movie came out Richard began seeking services at the Kansas City VA and there was a Kathy Lee that worked there and helped him through the system. He always spoke very highly of her. Whether it’s the same Kathy Lee or not, I’m glad she shared her story. Thank you, Sydne

    • Wanda Kelsey-Mendez on November 11, 2020 at 1:48 pm

      Yes, it’s the same person.

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