fbpx

Nurse recounts the makeshift hospital where she treated injured soldiers on the frontlines of the Falklands War

When I returned from the Falklands War, I put all those experiences in a box and closed it tight for a long time. Years later, I stood at an event giving a talk when a man approached me. He looked deeply into my eyes. “I still have the nightgown,” he said. This man remembered. He hugged me and as we embraced, he cried uncontrollably. All the while, he thanked me over and over for taking care of him. My heart stirred as I heard his words.

  • 12 months ago
  • May 10, 2023
5 min read
Alicia Mabel Reynoso was one of the 14 nurses in Comodoro Rivadavia during the Malvinas War. To this day, she still carries the painful memories of her time as a nurse there. Alicia Mabel Reynoso was one of the 14 nurses in Comodoro Rivadavia during the Malvinas War. To this day, she still carries the painful memories of her time as a nurse there. | Photo courtesy of Alicia Mabel Reynoso's Nursing Team
INTERVIEW SUBJECT
Alicia Mabel Reynoso, 65, worked as a nurse during the Falklands War in 1982 at the Comodoro Rivadavia mobile field hospital. She served in a capacity to be considered “civilian Air Force personnel.” She fought for these nurses to be recognized as veterans and war heroines by the Argentine government, and won. Alicia knew she wanted to be a nurse from a young age. She completed her nursing studies at Sante Fe before joining the Air Force to serve as a military nurse. In time, she became Head of Nursing at the Central Aeronautical Hospital. However, the war caught her by surprise in 1982, and she was ordered to join the Relocatable Military Hospital that the force had purchased the previous year. Having pledged to serve her country, she felt eager to fulfill that duty.  She and the other nurses played a tremendous role in Argentine history which went unrecognized until now.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
In 1982, Argentina and the United Kingdom engaged in armed combat over the sovereignty of the Malvinas, South Georgia, and South Sandwich Islands, located in the South Atlantic. It became known as the Falklands War. On April 2 of that year, the civil-military dictatorship of General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri, Admiral Jorge Isaac Anaya, and Brigadier Basilio Lami Dozo began the landing of troops in the islands which had been taken over by England in 1833. The conflict ended on June 14, 1982, with Argentina’s surrender, causing the deaths of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers, and three island civilians.

ENTRE RÍOS, Argentina — At 23 years old, I joined the armed forces. I went into my role with little knowledge about politics or war. I could not have anticipated the traumatic experiences awaiting me as a nurse serving during the Falklands War.

My fellow nurses and I cared for the wounded, and we carried their pain with us every step of the way. When the war ended, we never fully recovered from the trauma we endured. Yet, our efforts went unnoticed. Today, I fight for recognition for the nurses who gave so much of themselves in service of our country.

Read more stories from Argentina at Orato World Media 

Traumatic memories haunt me from my time in the Falklands War

One night, after joining the military, I arrived in Comodoro Rivadavia along with the other nurses. This would become our station from which to support the war effort. We worked hard to set up our medical space inside a hanger that still stands today. Soon, the wounded began to arrive, often in the middle of the night or early in the morning. So often, sleep alluded us.

As the soldiers arrived, I could see their trauma. They appeared to have emerged from hell, arriving dirty, disoriented, and hungry. We provided medical assistance and mended their bodies. The nurses gave them baths, food, and clean nightgowns. We also talked with them. The emotional support we offered gave them a sense a relief during a terrible time, but we lived in a vacuum. The nurses received little news from the frontlines. When they arrived, dirty and broken, these soldiers shared with us a bitter truth: we were losing the war.

When I returned from the Malvinas War, I put all those experiences in a box and closed it tight for a long time. Years later, I stood at an event giving a talk when a man approached me. He looked deeply into my eyes. “I still have the nightgown,” he said. This man remembered. He hugged me tightly, and as we embraced, he cried uncontrollably. All the while, he thanked me over and over for taking care of him. My heart stirred as I heard his words.

They could not erase our efforts, but war remains shrouded in darkness

I became a nurse in the war at the young age of 23. Most of the soldiers I treated were young; drafted into compulsory service at just 18-years-old. As they laid in their beds, they cried out for their mothers. Their screams still haunt me. We did everything we could for them, even performing surgery when necessary. For so long, we remained at our station, enduring the cold temperatures and our own loneliness, as we battled fear. We took on the relational roles of their mothers, sisters, and girlfriends, helping them recover physically and mentally. At times, we even played mail carrier, sending letters out on their behalf. We took on their suffering as our own.

When the war ended, I continued to work in the armed forces, joining teams working in temporary hospitals in Haiti and Panama. Then, a personal situation happened in my life which led me to attempt suicide. When I started therapy, I was surprised to discover, my journey through the Falklands War left me traumatized. I needed to share my story.

As nurses who tended to the wounded, we felt forgotten. While I knew that after the war, people needed to move on and start over, our work became instantly invisible. To this day, I still feel afraid to talk about it, but I cannot allow my memories to die with me. To make matters worse, it seemed as though the authorities intentionally hid our contributions, so I began to fight.

I took action to ensure the nurses of the Falklands War were recognized as war heroines and veterans. We needed our efforts to come to light to help us process it. Finally, on May 7, 2021, the Chamber ruled in our favor. Despite this victory, much of the written history continues to overlook the significant contributions of women during the Falklands War. I remain incredibly proud to have fought for the visibility of the women who, in 1982, answered the call of duty for our country. The truth about the conflict remains shrouded in darkness. I will continue to fight for visibility, and for all the soldiers, nurses, and helpers who continue to live in the past, waiting to be seen. 

An old photograph of Alicia and her colleagues during the war. | Photo courtesy of Alicia Mabel Reynoso’s nursing team

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

#GlobalCooperationNow

Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.

HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $200 OR MORE

NATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $100-150 OR MORE
REGIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $50-100 OR MORE
SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT STORY: PAYOUT: $25-50
Photo Gallery (10 Photos) PAYOUT: $25
Photo Gallery (20 Photos) PAYOUT: $50

TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY
JOIN US

Related