An Oral History of Kathy Reynolds, Army Nurse Corps Veteran
Kathy Reynolds (born August 7, 1942) served in the Army Nurse Corps at the 249th General Hospital in Asaka, Japan, from 1968 to 1970 in the neurosurgical intensive care unit. The interview, conducted on November 4, 2020, begins by discussing Ms. Reynolds’ childhood and schooling in Buffalo, New York. Reynolds’ early years were shaped by sports, the death of her father due to a heart attack, and her nearly seven years living in a convent as a Sister of St. Joseph. The central part of the interview focuses on Ms. Reynolds’ time in Japan. She speaks in detail about her experiences on the job, as well as her and her “tribe’s” social life outside the hospital. While Ms. Reynolds does not understate the strain of the job, the stories about specific patients are mostly positive in tone. Ms. Reynolds recalls life outside the hospital with fondness. She lived with seventeen friends in Tokorozawa, Japan, and had opportunities to travel throughout the country. After her time in Japan, Ms. Reynolds returned home briefly to Buffalo, NY, before moving to the California Bay Area. There, Ms. Reynolds earned a Master’s degree in Nursing and worked in various private cardiac nursing positions as well as at the 352nd Combat Support Hospital, where she met her current partner Lesley Watts. Ms. Reynolds shares memories of LGBT social life in San Francisco during this time in her life. In 2001, Ms. Reynolds moved back east to be closer to family. She currently lives in Woodstock, VT, and is retired. Throughout the interview, Ms. Reynolds foregrounds her values of maintaining a close-knit community, humor and positivity in the face of hardship, and staying true to herself.
Listen to the full audio recording here.
Read the full transcript below.