Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Andrew Buchanan


On March 8, 1965, the United States became formally embroiled in a conflict which would forever change the face of the nation. For the following eight years, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers would be sent half a world away to fight in a war that was questioned by many, and misunderstood by most. When depicted in film and literature, the experience of the Vietnam War remains focused on one category: the American soldier. Almost no accounts exist which focus on one of the most vital groups within the United States military: the officer’s wife. This thesis aims to shift the focus from the familiar stories of the combat veterans to the unheard stories of the women they left behind.

Throughout the era of the Vietnam War, the officer’s wife represented one of the most complex positions within both military and civilian societies. Caught between the traditional role of the officer’s wife, which dates back to before World War II, and the swirling social and political changes of the 1960s and 1970s, the officer’s wife stood at an intersection of powerful social change. While their husbands deployed to Vietnam, these women remained at home, with heels on the ground, holding down the fort. Some wives completed college degrees, some rented houses and worked for the first time, and a handful even protested the war. Had it not been for the efforts of these wives, the United States military would not have been able to function in an effective manner. Drawing on over ninety oral history interviews conducted by the author, this thesis will bring to light the incredible, and largely unheard stories of these officers’ wives.



Number of Pages

164 p.

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