A searing account from former Army nurse Smith of her tour of duty in Vietnam and its devastating personal aftermath. Joining the Army ""to see the world,"" Smith was a gung-ho supporter of the war, and an initial period at an Army base in Japan with all the comforts of home did little to dispel her enthusiasm. In fact, the ""warriors' air of bravado and cocky self-assurance fanned [her] notions about war"" even as she ""was drawn to the strong kinship among them, a sense of family."" And this closeness would make her stint in Vietnam even worse, because the men she liked, and sometimes loved, often were killed, lost in action, or horribly wounded. Hospitals she served in, like the Third Field Hospital in Saigon, were nightmarish places of inadequate supplies and equipment, squalid living quarters, and men with wounds so terrible that it was difficult at times for Smith not to show her own horror and dismay. The local Vietnamese were exploitative and resentful, nothing seemed to work, and the war was obviously not going well. Her tour over, Smith returned to the US, but had difficulty adjusting to her family, old friends, and new jobs. Peter, whom she had met in Vietnam, asked her to marry him, but terrified of losing him--he was a professional soldier--she turned him down. In the years that followed, Smith went to graduate school and moved to San Francisco, but was troubled by often debilitating memories and flashbacks. With the help of a veterans' support group, she finally exorcised her memories and recovered sufficiently to attend the 1985 dedication of N.Y.C.'s Vietnam Memorial, where the warmth of the crowd's welcome was a ""long-awaited dream come true."" No false heroics, no patriotic gloss, only the Vietnam War in all its grim reality.