Rhona Knox Prescott was born in June 1941, in New York City. During her last year in nursing school, she realized that she could use the skills she was learning in the military and joined the Army Nurse Corps.
Her first days in service were at nursing school in New York. After passing the National Council Licensure Examination, Prescott got her nursing license and went to San Antonio, where she received basic training alongside other female nurses.
After basic training, she went to El Paso, Texas, where she spent one year helping dependent family members at the William Beaumont Army Medical Center with routine surgical needs. Prescott then went to South Korea, where she worked on children who needed amputations.
After 13 months in Korea, she went back to the U.S. to complete the six-month Maneuver Captain’s Career Course at Fort Sam, Houston. This put her on the path to become a chief nurse.
Prescott later went to Fort Benning, Georgia, where she took an operating room course and gained technical and administrative skills. In an interview with the Veteran’s History Project, she stated, “This would lock me into the Military Occupational Specialty that I had been working in all along.”
Afterward, Prescott went to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where she worked on dependents in the operating room. She also taught operating room techniques to corpsmen training to become medics.
Prescott later served in Vietnam, where she worked on neurosurgical and chest cases in the operating room at the Saigon General Hospital. She transferred to the 616th Medical Clearing Company, at a remote hospital in An Khe, Central Highlands, where she worked as the acting chief nurse.
Prescott then went to the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Qui Nhon where she co-supervised the operating room with another nurse who became her friend. Prescott decided to leave the military shortly after this. She requested to resign twice, but instead, went to the Artillery Training Center at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where she worked in the operating room for a few months.
Prescott felt disrespected upon her arrival at a civilian airport in San Francisco. During this time, she felt “invisible” and struggled with her mental health. She later officially left the military as a captain. She also ended her nursing career and married, having children.
With the help of the GI Bill, Prescott earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work. After specializing in psychiatric social work for three years, she became a licensed clinical social worker and received diplomate status. Prescott worked at several VA hospitals alongside other Vietnam Veterans before retiring in Florida.
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