Episode 157: The story of Valerie Andre, presented by Charles Evans
November 1, 2023 | Hosted By: Jason Quinn
In this episode of The Real ResQ, Charles Evans joins the show.
Evans is author of Helicopter Heroine: Valérie André – Surgeon, Pioneer Rescue Pilot, and Her Courage Under Fire. He sits down with host Jason Quinn to provide a history lesson on Valerie André.
André is a surgeon and pioneer rescue helicopter pilot who flew 128 rescue missions from 1951 to 1953, primarily in Vietnam, during the French-Indochina War. She saved the lives of 168 wounded French soldiers.
During the war, André volunteered to be an airdropped medic, parachuting into remote French outposts. On one mission she parachuted into Laos, where she not only treated French soldiers, but also native Lao people, and captured enemy Viet Minh soldiers. She became known as “the woman who came from the sky” by the Lao people who knew her.
André also served as both a rescue helicopter pilot and chief medical officer during the French war in Algeria.
She was also a major force in bringing gender equality to the French military medical corps in the 1960s and 1970s. She was promoted to the rank of brigadier general (U.S. equivalent) in 1975 and full general in 1981, the first woman in the French Army to attain that rank.
She also became a force for change in the French military by addressing the lack of women in the French Army’s medical corps (Service de Santé). She worked tirelessly within the French military system and through the French legislature to increase the number of females in the service.
André celebrated her 100th birthday on April 21, 2022. The civilian heliport that serves the entire region of Paris was named in her honor on March 8, 2022, which was also International Women’s Day. She lives in Issy-les-Moulneaux, which has been her home for over 50 years. Enjoy!
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