World War II Army Flight Nurses – 24 Oct 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Dorothy White Errair (1920–2015)
807 MAES, North Africa

Dorrothy Errair née WHITE (Providence Hospital School of Nursing, Detroit, 1942) had already decided on military nursing so that she could be a flight nurse. Although she’d never been in an airplane, Dorothy thought, That’s it. That’s just what I want. She worked first for six months as an industrial nurse in Detroit to prepare herself better for “whatever I might come across in the military. And I was right,” she said, “because it was your emergency work, your emergency responses, you never knew what was going to happen the next minute.” Supplies were minimal, and in most cases a doctor was not available. Dorothy specified flight nursing when she applied to the Army, and after working as a hospital nurse at George Field, Illinois, her first duty station, from January to May, she was accepted for flight nurse training at Bowman Field, KY and graduated on 2 July 1943. Agnes Jensen was a class mate. Dorothy was assigned to the 807th MAES, as was Agnes, with initial home base in North Africa. When half of the flight nurses and half of the air evac technicians in her squadron were flown to Italy to begin transporting patients from Bari, Dorothy was not among them; Agnes was, and her experiences on the ill-fated flight will be the subject of the next Blog.


Dorothy White. (USAF Photo)

 

Dorothy and the remaining 807 MAES flight nurses essentially did double duty until their squadron mates returned. The plane had gone down in Albania, but all the crew escaped safely. After a month, the squadron knew they were alive but not when they would return. Dorothy continues the story:

So, we just looked – many times standing on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, and you’d look across, and you knew they were over there someplace. And it was like you were willing them to come home and making a bridge – a little air bridge sort of like a rainbow – so that they could climb over. But it was a very bad time for us, but we still worked so hard during that time. The work, of course, helped us to get through it. But in the back of your mind, you always knew – you just kind of had this tight feeling between your shoulder blades – that, Where are they? How are they? How are they surviving? Is everybody all right?

Their homecoming at the mess hall where the remaining squadron members were gathered for lunch was a joyous occasion.

Dorothy’s comment about flight nursing – “So I knew what I wanted, and I went after it, and I got it” – sums up her work as a flight nurse. Whether stranded in Naples with a planeload of patients, or on board with a load of psychiatric patients between Bari and Malta at night when St Elmo’s fire mimicked fire on the wings, or fashioning an oxygen-delivery system from a funnel and a rectal tube for a patient with a sucking chest wound, or faced with an aircraft in Italy that had just offloaded a cargo of mules, or with an aircraft interior covered with glossy photos of nudes, she took the bull by the horns –  or in the case of the photos, a box of Band-Aides – and did something about it. Dorothy died in 2015 at age 95.

 

To listen to my interview with Dorothy Errair, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011347

Interviewed 24 May 1986, Cocoa Beach, FL
Learn more about my interview with Dorothy Errair on the Blog for 4 July 2016.

To be continued

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 10 Oct 2020

 In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Louise Anthony De Flon (1916–1995)
816 MAES, Europe

Louise De Flon née ANTHONY (Independence Sanitarium and Hospital School of Nursing, Missouri, 1936) had a “rather varied” nursing career first in Independence where she did hospital nursing, then in her home state of California where she worked in a maternity home and at private and county hospitals, as well as in private duty nursing. She would get bored with the work, Louise said, pack her things in her car, take off, and find another job. When war was declared, Louise declared her intention to enter the military. Brothers, cousins, and nephews would be in the service, and Louise felt she couldn’t have stayed out of the military had she wanted. But initially she had to talk herself into the proper attitude to join: “I knew once you got in, you had to stay in it. When they told you to jump, you had to jump, no matter what it was. And you couldn’t say I quit.”

Orders for Gardner Field, CA came through in September 1942. After arriving on base, Louise immediately applied for flight nurse training; orders to Bowman Field, KY arrived just over a year later. “And, of course, I was so happy,” Louise said, “if someone had handed me $50,000, I couldn’t have jumped for joy more.” She graduated from flight nurse training in the same class as Jenny Boyle, Ethel Carlson, and Denny Nagle on 21 January 1944 and was assigned to the 816 MAES in Europe with Jenny. Louise’s most memorable flight was from Normandy back to England after D-Day. Germans were shelling the field, and the last patient she took on board obviously was dying. When he died over the English Channel, Louise notified the radio operator to have a doctor meet the plane; then she treated the patient like she did the others – adjusting his pillow, checking his pulse and his dressings – “and so no one knew anything”. A back injury that Louise suffered during a litter-lifting exercise while in flight nurse training cut her overseas flying assignment short, and she returned to the US in March 1945 before the end of the war. When asked if she felt like she’d missed out on activities because of her early departure, Louise replied, “No, I didn’t. I felt that I did everything everyone else did, that I accomplished what I set out to do in the beginning, to become a flight nurse, to do the work.” Louise died in 1995 at age 76.

 

To listen to my interview with Louise de Flon, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011348

 

Interviewed 23 and 24 May 1986, Cocoa Beach, FL
Learn more about my interview with Louise on the Blog for 6 Jun 2016.

To be continued

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 12 Sep 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Denny (Denzil) Nagle (1915–2015)
815 MAES, Europe

Denny (Denzil) NAGLE (Indianapolis City Hospital School of Nursing, 1940) worked first at a small county hospital, then applied for public health training at Peabody College in Nashville before returning to Indiana, where she worked in public health until war was declared. When Denny heard about air evacuation, she thought, That’s what I’m going to try to do, so she applied for flight nurse training. She arrived at Jefferson Barracks, MO a month before Ethel Carlson arrived. After about nine months, Denny was sent to Bowman Field, KY, where she graduated from the flight nurse course on 21 January 1944; Ethel was a class mate. Denny remembered the training as “really rough” but said she never felt better than she had with all that exercise. Denny and Ethel were assigned to the 815 MAES after graduation and were sent to England to await D Day.

Denny Nagle (left) and flight nurse colleague. (Author’s Private Collection)

Denny was quiet and reserved, but her twinkling eyes suggested her warmth and friendliness. It was more a desire to help than a vast store of memories that led to the interview. She often glossed over events, rather than give her own perceptions of them, and to fill in the details, she gave me a five-page typed account of her experiences as a flight nurse that she had written shortly after the war. One vivid memory did come to mind, however. Not long after the invasion of Belgium and Holland, Denny and her medical technician were sent on a special mission to Brussels to air evac patients out on two planes. When their plane landed that night, it ran off the runway and tipped over on the wing just enough to touch it. No real damage was done, but it and the other plane had to be checked the next morning, so the crew stayed overnight. Denny thinks she may have been the only American woman in “this back door Metropolis of the Holland invasion”, amid a “milling mass of troops” and  gathering of glider pilots awaiting transportation back to England. To her “it came nearer to realization of war and strain and what our boys were going through than one cares to remember”. She concluded: “Next morning as we left the air strip, overloaded and flax [sic – she meant flak] holes in bottom of ship, our flight for safe return appeared in hands of something more than pilot or the plane.” Denny died in 2015 at age 100.

 

To listen to my interview with Denny Nagle, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011356

Interviewed 23 May 1986, Cocoa Beach, FL
Learn more about my interview with Denny on the Blog for 8 May 2016.

To be continued

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 22 Aug 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Blanche Solomon Creesy (1918–1992)
822 MAES, 830 MAES/North Atlantic

Blanche Creesy née SOLOMON (Kings County Hospital School of Nursing, Brooklyn, 1940) worked in gynecological nursing before entering the military. She did not want to be sent overseas in the Army with a group from her hospital, nor did she want to join the Navy, because the nurses she knew who had joined were sent to Brooklyn Navy Yard. So she waited until the Army pay reached $150 a month and joined. Her first assignment at Kearns Army Air Base, UT about 10 miles from Salt Lake City, was not a desirable duty station, so Solomon put her name on every overseas roster, but to no avail. When she signed up for air evacuation duty, however, her application was accepted. At the end of January 1944, she was at Bowman Field, KY for the class of flight nurses that graduated on 11 March 1944; Alice Krieble was a classmate. Blanche was assigned initially to the 822 MAES, then to the 830 MAES as a flight nurse on the North Atlantic route in Air Transport Command planes.

Blanche’s first tour of duty was at Harmon Field, Newfoundland, where she flew with patients whose air evac flight had originated in Scotland, back to New York. She then was transferred to the Azores, where she air evac’d patients whose journey began in North Africa or France, to Bermuda on their way to the United States. Blanche recalled working hard as a flight nurse, adding, ‘but I think most of us played hard, too, in our free time’. She died in 1992 at age 73.

 

To listen to my interview with Blanche Creesy, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011341

 

Interviewed 23 May 1986, Cocoa Beach, FL
Learn more about my interview with Blanche on the Blog for 24 Apr 2016.

To be continued

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 1 Aug 2020

 In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Sara Ann Jones Sharp (1915–2002)
812 MAES, Pacific

Sally (Sara Ann) Sharp née JONES (Temple University School of Nursing, Philadelphia, 1936) worked initially at Mount Sinai Hospital, then at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital after earning her nursing diploma, followed by private duty nursing for several years. During that time she was a member of the Civilian Air Patrol. When war was declared, Jones entered the Army, but ‘went with the Air Force’, because she wanted to be a flight nurse. Her first assignment was at a station hospital in Richmond, VA. Eight months later she was sent to Bowman Field, KY for flight nurse training, graduating on 1 October 1943. Jones was a squadron mate of Jo Nabors and Elizabeth Pukas in the 812 MAES assigned to the Pacific.

For Sally, who was a pragmatist, flight nursing was ‘just a job to be done’ – but one she enjoyed. She was ‘absolutely’ glad she’d made that decision. One of her flights out of Saipan was featured in ‘Flight for Life’, written by Patricia Lochridge for Woman’s Home Companion in January 1945. At the end of the war, Sally had hoped to fly into Japan to bring out the POWs as a fitting conclusion to her flight nurse duties overseas, but the nurses in her squadron were told that they had been flying long enough. New flight nurses made the coveted trips instead, while Sally and her squadron mates waited in Hawaii for orders returning them to the States. Sally died in 2002 at age 87.

 

To listen to my interview with Sally Sharp, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011358

Interviewed 21 May 1986, Winter Park, FL
Learn more about my interview with Sally on the Blog for 2 Apr 2016.

To be continued

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 18 Jul 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Mary Newbeck Christian (1915–2012)
805 MAES, Alaska

Mary Eileen Christian née NEWBECK (Providence Hospital School of Nursing, Detroit, 1937) worked as a hospital nurse in surgery, and eventually as an industrial nurse after her graduation from nursing school in 1937. During that time she was a member of the Aerial Nurse Corps of America, a civilian flight nurse organization founded by Ohio pilot Lauretta Schimmoler, with a chapter in Detroit. Because of that experience, Newbeck entered the military with the understanding that she would go to flight nurse training and was in the first class of nurses to graduate from formal training at Bowman Field, KY on 18 February 1943.

A pleasant surprise awaited Lieutenant Newbeck at Bowman Field – two former ANCOA members from Detroit Company A were on base. Captain Leora Stroup, the former Company Commander, was now director of flight nurse training for the Army Air Forces School of Air Evacuation, and Lieutenant Margaret Gudobba was in the second class of flight nurses that graduated on 26 March 1943. The local Louisville Courier-Journal of 2 March 1943, always eager for details about the flight nurses, made much of the “Three Aerial Nurse Pioneers Reunited At Bowman Field”.

Eileen Newbeck (far left) with Leora Stroup and Margaret Gudobba, all former ANCOA nurses, at Bowman Field. [AMEDD Photo]

After flight nurse training, Newbeck was assigned to the 805 MAES with duty station in Alaska. She was delighted with her assignment, for she always had wanted to see Alaska, and Uncle Sam had paid for the trip. And best of all, she said, she met her husband there. Mary died in 2016 at age 97.

 

To listen to my interview with Mary Christian, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011343

 

Interviewed 21 May 1986, St. Petersburg, FL
Learn more about my interview with Mary on the Blog for 10 Mar 2016.

To be continued

 

 

 

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 28 Jun 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Dorothy Vancil Morgan (1911–2000)
805 MAES, Central Africa

Dorothy Morgan née VANCIL (Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing, Wenatchee, Washington, 1936) did some private duty nursing after completing her nurse training, moved to Seattle, and worked in different types of nursing before taking a job at a railroad hospital in Alaska. On her voyage by ship from Alaska back to Washington State, Pearl Harbor was attacked. Vancil applied to the military as soon as she returned to the US but had to take a three-month course in pediatrics before she was accepted for military duty in 1942. Her first assignment was at Hamilton Field, CA, where she heard about air evacuation, applied for flight nurse training, and reported to Bowman Field, KY in the fall of 1943, a year after entering the military. She graduated from the flight nurse course with Lee Holtz, Adele Edmunds, and Sally Sharp on 26 November 1943 and was assigned to the 805 MAES with duty in Central Africa, where she flew patients to Brazil.

Dorothy’s most vivid memories of flight nursing overseas were of the contrasting colors, the musical sounds of the grass cutters with their scythes, and the smells – the odors – of Africa. She had gone overseas with such thoughts about how she was going to be Florence Nightingale, Dorothy said, and found that she spent much of her time providing moral support to her patients, “which meant a lot to them”.  When her tour of duty was up in Africa, Dorothy flew on stateside air evac missions. She left the military after the war and joined the Reserves. Married to a flight surgeon by then, Dorothy decided not to return to active duty for the Korean War. She died in 2016 at age 88.

 

To listen to my interview with Dorothy Morgan, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011351

Interviewed 15 May 1986, San Antonio, TX
Learn more about my interview with Dorothy Morgan on the Blog for 22 Feb 2016.

To be continued

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 6 Jun 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Jenevieve Silk née BOYLE (1920–2017)
816 MAES, Europe

Jenny (Jenevieve) Silk née BOYLE (Milwaukee County Hospital School of Nursing, 1942) arrived at Jefferson Barracks, MO around the same time as Denny Nagle and Ethel Cerasale. Because in Wisconsin “nurses were a dime a dozen”, Boyle was afraid she would not find work after receiving her nurses diploma, but was asked to stay on at the hospital where she trained. She worked in clean surgery for women for a year before going into the service. Boyle knew nothing about military life, but she heard on the radio that the Army Air Corps Surgeon General’s office wanted flight nurses. She did not really know what a flight nurse was, except that the job would involve flying in airplanes. “It was something completely new, but, you know, at age 23, I was ready for a new adventure,” she said. Boyle, Nagle, and Cerasale all were sent within their first year of military service to Bowman Field, KY for the flight nurse course and graduated on 21 January 1944. Boyle was assigned to the 816 MAES for duty in England in preparation for D Day. Her most riveting memory of her first trip across the Channel to pick up patients for air evac – worse than losing an engine or ground looping – was the sight of “hundreds of dead young men laid out with parachutes over them”. It made a lasting impression, but Jenny thought the war was necessary.

Jenny mentioned that she hadn’t had occasion to talk about her years as a flight nurse in World War II because no one had asked her about that time of her life in about 40 years. Although she agreed to the interview, she discounted any possible contributions she could make to my study of how nurses cope with war or even to a history of flight nursing in World War II. Jenny needed more reassurance and guidance than other women I’d interviewed, but what she did talk about, especially spontaneously, was valuable. Jenny was intelligent, eloquent, and articulate, as when she shared her stark realization that “no matter how right you are or how wrong you are in your endeavor for the war”, so many soldiers had died. She didn’t dwell on it, but she still saw that scene in Normandy so many years later. Jenny died in 2017 at age 97.

 

To listen to my interview with Jenny Silk, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011357

Interviewed 8 May 1986, Tequesta, FL
Learn more about my interview with Jenny on the Blog for 22 Nov 2016.

To be continued

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 16 May 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Ethel Cerasale née CARLSON (1921–1998)
815 MAES, Europe

When Ethel Cerasale née CARLSON (Englewood Hospital School of Nursing, Chicago, 1942) saw the Army nurse who came to her nursing school to recruit nurses for the military, the “gorgeous … absolutely the most beautiful” uniform made an immediate impression on her. Carlson already knew she wanted to be a flight nurse, and she heard that if she applied for military service through the Red Cross Reserve, they would help her find the type of duty she wanted. She graduated from nursing school in 1942, gave the Red Cross her application in February 1943, joined the Army, and two months later was sent to Jefferson Barracks, an Army post near St. Louis. She was selected for flight nurse training at Bowman Field, KY and graduated from the course on 21 January 1944 with assignment to the 815 MAES and initial duty in England. Because of illness, Carlson was sent back to the US before the end of the war, but not before celebrating with members of her squadron in France on the day that Paris was liberated.

Ethel (lower right) with members of her squadron.
(Author’s private collection)

What struck me on meeting Ethel was her infectious smile, which I had remembered from photos taken in World War II. Ethel was easy to interview. She was very spontaneous with a bubbly personality, and, as in my interview with Jo Nabors, we could have talked for hours. But we talked only for about two hours on tape. Our break for dinner was a long one, but fortunately Ethel shared my enthusiasm for finishing the interview that night. While Ethel had a lot of information to share, she actually had little to say about her actual flying experiences. She was, she recalled, too busy having fun and getting into trouble, and she didn’t do a lot of flying. Her tour of duty overseas was cut short because of a medical condition that required her own evacuation as a patient back to the US before the end of the war. Ethel died in 1998 at age 77.

 

To listen to my interview with Ethel Cerasale, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011345

Interviewed 7 May 1986, Satellite Beach, FL
Learn more about my interview with Ethel on the Blog for 10 Jan 2016.

To be continued

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 26 Apr 2020

In Memoriam
World War II Army Flight Nurses

Jenevieve (Jenny) Boyle Silk, who died in June 2017, was the last living of the 25 World War II US Army flight nurses whom I interviewed in 1986 for what became Beyond the Call of Duty: Army Flight Nursing in World War II. I clearly remember each of my interviews with these remarkable women and still can picture them and hear their voices when I think of them.

Twenty of these interviews are now digitized and available as audio recordings on the Imperial War Museum website. Access the interviews here:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/search?query=judith+barger&filters%5BwebCategory%5D%5BSound%5D=on&pageSize=&pageSize=

 

My short remembrances are in the order in which I interviewed these former flight nurses.

 

Josephine (Jo) Malito Nabors (1920–2015)
812 MAES, Pacific

Jo (Josephine) NABORS née Malito (Saint Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing, Youngstown, Ohio, 1941) stayed on as a staff nurse at Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital after graduation. Having written to the Army Nurse Corps about joining, she heard nothing until the end of that year, and she entered the military right after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Jo had dreamed of being an Army flight nurse before the program even existed, never thinking that war might be declared. Her first assignment was at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi. After a year and a half on station, Jo signed up for flight nurse training in hopes of going to Europe; her orders for Bowman Field, Kentucky came through in the summer of 1943 for the class that graduated on 1 October 1943. Her 812 MAES was sent to the Pacific, however, with Elizabeth Pukas as chief nurse. Jo married immediately after graduation and flew under her married name, Nabors. Her new husband, also in the military, was stationed stateside throughout the war.


Jo Nabors featured in Honolulu newspaper clipping. (AFHRA)

Jo’s was my second interview out of state. She met me at the airport, then took me to my motel where I interviewed her at her request, rather than drive us to the small town where she lived. Stylish, very friendly, and with a strong mothering instinct toward me, Jo was very articulate and talked easily. At the end of the interview, she let me know how much she’d enjoyed our visit, in part because I’d put her immediately at ease when I wasn’t afraid to talk about myself and to answer her questions. That, she said, made her more comfortable chatting about her own experiences as a flight nurse in World War II. Jo died in 2016 at age 95.

 

To listen to my interview with Jo Nabors, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011354

Interviewed 1 May 1986, Girard, OH
Learn more about my interview with Jo on the Blog for 20 Dec 2015.

To be continued