by Lisa Tome
More than four decades after returning from Vietnam, Claire Starnes is still looking for answers.
And for the women, like Starnes, who weren't nurses, yet served in Vietnam, there is now a book which tells their stories.
One of those featured, Starnes was also responsible for compiling the book "Women Vietnam Veterans: Our Untold Stories". The book, 744 pages, has been a work in progress since 1999. The book provides first person accounts from those women, not in the nursing profession, who were stationed in the Republic of Vietnam between 1962-1973. In the event the women were deceased, Starnes and others, provided their accounts.
Starnes, who now lives in New Hampshire, formerly lived in Conowingo. She was active in local organizations and, with her late husband, Ed, raised her family here.
She is now touring the country promoting the book and sharing her story. Starnes worked as a photojournalist in Vietnam. She was in Rising Sun last week as part of her tour.
"I just found two more (women veterans)," said Starnes.
The book came about following the formation of the VWV (Vietnam Women Veterans, Inc.) in 1999. That group was started to find the women who served in Vietnam so the group could meet for conferences and education.
The book was released Veterans Day week of 2015. Since that time, she has taken the book cross country, promoting it at American Legion and VFW posts across the nation. She is also providing lectures on college campuses. She is at West Point this week.
Starnes has driven cross country with her load of books, given interviews, and hosted signings. She and the book will also be included in a major exhibition next year.
"I've devoted my life to this. It's a good feeling (to have the book published) but it's unfinished work. So many of us are dying. We're still looking for maybe 200," said Starnes. "We have the names of people we think we need. But there is a great satisfaction that women have been recognized."
There are currently more than 860 women spotlighted in the book. A second volume will come later. "The women who served in Vietnam that are not nurses there were only about 1000-1200 of us," she said.
The book is available at Amazon.com in soft cover, hard cover, and on ebook.
This may not be Starnes last book. She has been chronicling her travels regarding the book tour and that may become another book.