Keeping the Legacy of Carol Ann Drazba Alive

Hidden History

(WBRE/WYOU-TV) When you think of the Vietnam War, the brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives probably come to mind.

      Yet, many women served too as nurses.

 In fact, one of the first women killed during the Vietnam War —- was from Lackawanna County.

     Eyewitness News Reporter Brianna Strunk has her story.

Kim Onda Atkinson found herself drawn to a woman she’s never met — or known.

It all started when she noticed this plaque — while attending nursing school at Scranton State General Hospital.

“And she was always stuck in my mind,” Said Kim Onda Atkinson.

The woman pictured on the plaque is Second Lieutenant Carol Ann Drazba of Dunmore — a former nursing student at Scranton State.

Kim’s nursing instructor — Anne Domin — just happened to be Carol’s best friend.

“And so we did a lot of things together that girls would normally do” Said Domin.

After Carol graduated from nursing school —- she boarded a ship in 1965 to volunteer as a nurse in the Vietnam War.

The 22-year-old worked from this field hospital treating and saving, injured soldiers.

“She aspired to be a good nurse and she wanted to get married!” Said Domin.

But Carol would never get that chance.

In February 1966 — after a long shift — she boarded a helicopter with six others.

It crashed and burned — for reasons still unknown.

Nobody survived — including the pilot and another nurse, Elizabeth Jones, who were set to get married and had the wedding dress on board.

“Unfortunately it wasn’t recognized as being killed in battle and they didn’t get any recognition or purple hearts” Added Atkinson.

Carol’s remains returned home in a plain wooden box.

“Where was the flag, where was the honor, where was the dignity?” Noted Atkinson.

Eventually, Carol would be properly recognized.

In 2014, this bridge in carol’s hometown of Dunmore was named in her honor.

Two years before that — Kim lead efforts to build this memorial outside the Gino Merli Veteran’s Center where Scranton State General Hospital once stood.

“Every time I go by the area, there’s someone sitting on the bench. We have a lot of Vietnam Veterans just sit there and contemplate” Said Atkinson.

Johnnie Williams is one of the men Carol saved in Vietnam.

For decades he sent flowers to be placed at carol’s grave.

“He called her ‘his angel’, and he still calls her ‘his angel'” Added Domin.

  Carol is buried – along with her parents – in this Scranton cemetery. She would be 76-years-old today, and loved ones believe – if she was alive – Carol would still be helping others.” 

“I think she would still be nursing. I think she’d be doing it in some capacity” Noted Domin.

Anne still clutches on to these letters Carol sent during her seven months in Vietnam.

A promising friendship left unexpectedly unwritten.

And Kim, the once curious stranger, vows Carol’s legacy will live on.

“She won’t be forgotten, not in this area,” Said Atkinson.


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Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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