Mary Jo Rice-Mahoney was born in 1947. Her father served as an active duty naval officer, so she grew up in various locations where her father was stationed. She attended St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Maryland and majored in nursing.
During her junior year of college, she and several classmates joined the Army Student Nursing Program. Upon graduation from college, Rice-Mahoney was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. She went to basic training at Fort Sam Houston, and her first posting in the Army Nurse Corps placed her at Walson General Hospital at Fort Dix, New Jersey. At Walson, she worked in the orthopedic ward treating patients who had been wounded in Vietnam.
In early 1969, Rice-Mahoney received orders for Vietnam. From March 1969 to March 1970, she served as a nurse in the intensive care unit and recovery room at the 67th Evacuation Hospital at Qui Nhon.
After her service in Vietnam, Rice-Mahoney briefly went into civilian nursing but then rejoined the Army and went on active duty. She served in a number of stateside postings, as well as in Tehran, Iran in 1975-1976. Rice-Mahoney then served in the Army Nurse Corps Reserve at the 322nd General Hospital in New Jersey, eventually rising to the rank of colonel, while working as a nurse and administrator at veterans hospitals in New Jersey and Connecticut.
In 1993, Rice-Mahoney went to the dedication of the Vietnam Women's Memorial in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Union County Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. She speaks about her military service to schools and libraries.
Part 1 traces her early life, college and service in Vietnam. Part 2 details her service in the Army Nurse Corps in Vietnam. In Part 3, Rice-Mahoney reflects on the Vietnam War and delves into her career in the Army Nurse Corps and subsequently her time working at veterans hospitals and serving in the Reserves.
The Rutgers Oral History Archives received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State. In the 2020-2022 cycle, this grant assisted the ROHA staff in making this oral history available to you for your use.