San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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November 11th, 2009
Veterans Day ’09: Navy career took Nagy around the world

by PAT MURDOCK

When young Bettye Nagy of San Antonio, was a student nurse, she had the idea of being an Army nurse, but World War II was over.

After she received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, she joined the U. S. Naval Reserves on July 3, 1956. One reason she chose the Navy was so she would be stationed outside the Lone Star State.

Then after working a while for the Texas State Nurses Association, where she says she was “bored out of my skull,” she augmented into the regular U. S. Navy in 1958.

She discovered that she “really, really liked the Navy.” In fact, she says she loved every moment of her career.

For the next few years, Bettye Nagy was stationed at naval hospitals on both coasts of the United States. From 1961 to 1964, she served as the recruiting officer for the Nurse Corps in NRS, Houston, covering South Texas and the State of Louisiana. Then in 1964, Captain Nagy was sent to the University of Washington to get her master’s degree in nursing. A tour of duty at Newport, Rhode Island followed.

In 1967, during the Vietnam War, she was sent overseas to serve at DaNang, Republic of South Vietnam, where she took care of wounded sailors and marines. She was among the first group of nurses sent to that section of South Vietnam. Much of the time, fighting was going on around DaNang and the nurses, like the troops, were always in danger.

Captain Nagy received many military honors in connection with her tour of Vietnam, including the Navy Unit Commendation medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Gallantry Cross Color and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. She was awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

After returning to the United States, Nagy was stationed at Oakland, Calif., for three years and then served a 22-month tour in Taipei, Taiwan. During her 22 years, eight months and 27 days in the Navy, she also served overseas at Subic Bay, Philippine Islands and at Yokosuka, Japan.

From 1974 to 1976, she served as head of the Professional Branch of the Nursing Division of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Washington, D.C. When she retired from the U.S. Navy on March 31, 1979, she was director of the F. Edward Hebert Naval Hospital in New Orleans, La.

Captain Nagy moved to San Marcos in 1981 to be nearer her family. She immediately became very involved as a volunteer in the local community. She is active in the Heritage Association of San Marcos and has been a Tourist Information Center volunteer for about 10 years. She delivers Meals on Wheels through her church, St. John’s Catholic Church.

In their letter nominating Bettye Nagy to serve as grand marshal of San Marcos’ 2009 Veterans Day Parade, Ellie and Harry Stuart wrote, “While women have always played an important part in the military life of our country, they do not always get the credit that they deserve for their contributions. We feel that Captain Bettye G. Nagy, U.S. Navy Retired, not only merits recognition for her own illustrious career in the United States Navy, she also would be a fine representative for all the women who served in the military and have been so dedicated to keeping our country free.”

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