McPherson Buzz Owner Jennifer Flood
On Tuesday night, the crowd at the McPherson American Legion gathered to hear from two female Vietnam veterans, Kathy Nicholson and Sheryl White. This was the first all-female Veterans Story Night. The only other female to speak at the Legion was Teri Hansen in May of 2019.
Per usual, Dan Hervey greeted the crowd before the two women took the spotlight to share their experiences. Even Hervey introduced the night’s speakers and serves as the regular host of Veterans Story Night.
The stories began promptly at 7 p.m, preceded by dinner prepared for the audience, free of charge, paid for by the event sponsors. Sponsors for Tuesday’s event were Carlton Spencer with Alliance Agency, Inc., Doyle Davidson with McPherson Realty Exchange, and Bob and Kathy Nicholson.
Kathy Nicholson described that she and White joined the United States Army following graduation from high school under the “Buddy System.” The Buddy System allowed new recruits to join the military together and be assured that they would stay together through basic training and hopefully on to their stations. While many people did not end up staying together for that program, Kathy Nicholson and White were stationed together during their entire enlistment.
“We really felt safe together, and we had a lot of fun too,” White said.
The women joined the Army during the tail end of the Vietnam War with aspirations to change the culture of the Army. Each woman wanted to be a counselor to other veterans who were returning from Vietnam. At the time, women were only allowed to be in clerical or medical positions. Both entered as medics with the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 326 Medical Battalion.
“When we arrived at Fort Campbell, they had no idea what to do with us. We were the first women to be stationed there,” White said. “We stayed in a room with a bed in it until they moved us to the WWII barracks, where we had absolutely no privacy.”
“Kathy and I experienced a lot of diversity with the military. It was tough for two young girls from Kansas to be there, but we ended up loving it,” White said.
She met her husband of 44 years at Fort Campbell. Kathy Nicholson and White have remained best friends throughout the years. While they shared fond memories, the crowd laughed with them when they said they were very glad to get out of the Army.
White now lives in Wichita with her husband. She has two daughters and one son.
“I grew up wanting to leave Kansas, but there really is no place like home and I missed it terribly,” White said.
Kathy Nicholson lives in McPherson with her husband, Bob. They also have two daughters and one son.
Veterans Story Night is once per month at the American Legion. If you would like to speak or be a sponsor, please contact the Post Commander Jim LaDuke.