The first woman killed in the Vietnam War was remembered Saturday afternoon as a statue in her honor was unveiled in Scranton.
More than 45 years after she died in the service of her country, a permanent memorial to Army nurse Second Lieutenant Carol Ann Drazba was dedicated in Scranton.
There were hugs and tears as family and friends honored the first woman killed in the Vietnam War and hundreds turned out to pay tribute.
“Oh, it`s wonderful, just can`t imagine after all the three years that we`ve gone through, that it`s finally here. So it`s wonderful. What a tribute, what a tribute,” said Drazba’s sister, Joanne Katula of Spring Brook Township.
“We`re just so grateful for this day, that Carol gets the honor that she`s due. She was our hero,” added Anne Domin, Drazba’s best friend and nursing school classmate.
A Dunmore resident, Drazba, 22, and six others died on February 18, 1966, in a helicopter crash in southern Vietnam.
Family and friends said she volunteered to serve during the war, all to help wounded soldiers.
“The reason she went to war is because when she was stationed in Fort Huachuca in Arizona, that’s where the boys were training to be pilots and they said to her, ‘Come and take care of me when I get shot down.’ Carol was a very wonderful, adventuresome person, so she volunteered to go, never had a thought about dying there herself,” said Domin.
“She wanted to go over there and help our boys over there and she did it. It`s just too bad it ended so shortly, but at least she did some good,” added Katula.
The statue of Drazba stands near the Gino Merli Veterans Center and the site of the former Scranton State Hospital, where she trained as a nurse.
“This is sacred ground. This is where she started, she was educated. She walked through the doors on the exact spot that she`s standing on,” said Kim Onda Atkinson, with Friends of the Forgotten.
The memorial to Drazba and other Vietnam veterans was a three-year labor of love by Friends of the Forgotten, a veterans group that raised more than $80,000 through community donations.
“She`s forever memorialized. She`ll never be forgotten, we made sure of that today,” added Atkinson.
The Lackawanna County commissioners also proclaimed June 16, 2012 as 2LT Carol Ann Drazba Day.
As one of just eight women killed in Vietnam, Drazba will always have a place in history.
Memorial pavers at the site are still available for purchase.