World War II Army Flight Nurses – 26 Dec 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.

 

Jocie French (1911–1995)
811 MAES, Europe

JOCIE HUSTON née FRENCH (Levi Memorial Hospital, Hot Springs, AR 1939) worked first in a doctor’s office, then in a veterans hospital before joining the army in 1942. But when war was declared, as Jocie recalled, “nobody wanted to stay in Veterans [Hospital]. I had everything packed.” Her chief nurse said that because of the freeze placed on staff, no nurses could be taken from the Veterans Hospital to serve in the army, but the doctors told Jocie otherwise: “’Oh, you pay no attention to that. You start writing letters, because this is no place for you during war.’ So I did. I got in at the time that I was supposed to.”

Jocie  was assigned first to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for two months, then was sent to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to help open a new hospital, where she heard about flight nursing, quickly signed up, and was accepted. But it was six months before nurse staffing was adequate to release her to attend the flight nurse course. Finally in June 1943 Jocie was on her way to Bowman Field with the class that graduated 13 August 1943. She crossed paths with Grace Dunnam, who was preparing to take her 806 MAES nurses to England. But Jocie’s squadron, the 811 MAES, destined for England as well, had to wait at Bowman Field until December to travel overseas “for there was no place for us”.

When asked if any particular patients or air evac trips might have been more difficult than others, Jocie shared a time “we were getting a load of patients, and the flight surgeon was at the scene. And he said, ‘Well, now, this boy’s jaw is wired together, and the weather is going to be bad going back. If he gets sick, you’re going to have to clip these wires.'” Jocie continued:

My stomach began churning, because I’d never clipped wires, and I didn’t know what would happen to the patient’s mouth if I did have to. And we had no ground contact once we got in, but we were allowed to give morphine. That was all we had – I mean, they didn’t have the modern drugs – and we didn’t have to have a doctor’s order to give it [morphine] if we felt it had to be given. So I thought, Well, I’ll just give you an eighth of a grain of morphine. I did, and the blessed little fellow slept all the way over, and everybody else on that plane got sick.

By the end of the flight she wished she’d given all the patients morphine.

Asked if she had any advice to pass along to nurses who might serve as flight nurses in wartime, Jocie replied, “Oh, gee. Most certainly to learn everything you can before you go. But I would still say, ‘Go,’ I really would.” She gave the example from a flight in a plane carrying blood and medical supplies to France. Just as they got to past the coast of England, the crew chief or perhaps the copilot

came back and said, “Get into a parachute.” And he was getting into one. We’d lost an engine. And so you asked me did I ever feel inadequate. I kept thinking, Do I get out of this parachute before we hit the water? Because I knew we had been gone long enough to be over the Channel. Or do I hit the water with the parachute? … So then is when I really wished I’d remembered a little more. But fortunately we had just gotten over the Channel, and there was a base right in England on the Channel, and the pilot turned around and went back there.

Jocie was happy as a flight nurse; her philosophy was that “we had a job to do, so we did it the best we could”. But, she mused, ” f I ever came back in a second life, I would like to go now and fly in the big planes.”

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

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011349

Because of a malfunctioning tape recorder, the interview has poor sound quality.
It gets better as the interview progresses.

 

Interviewed 18 Jun 1986
Learn more about my interview with Jocie on the Blog for 4 Sep 2016.

To be continued

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 6 Dec 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.

 

Brooxie Mowrey Unick (1920–2005)
816 MAES, Europe

Brooxie Unick née MOWREY (Garfield Park Community Hospital School of Nursing, Chicago, 1941) began her nursing career working at a psychiatric hospital but decided that she wanted a chance to travel, so she applied to TWA for work as an airline hostess. She had passed the first two interviews in Chicago and was waiting for word about going to Kansas City for the final interview when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Brooxie explained:

And while I’m waiting for this final interview, December 7th came along. And so I kept waiting and got through the holidays. And in January, in the mid-West, you always get the doldrums because of the weather. So I got to thinking about it, and I remembered the letter I’d had from the airlines saying, “We’re awfully sorry. We have to change our program, because the armed forces need registered nurses now.” They wished me all kinds of luck. So I got to thinking, The armed forces need me? Okay.

She was just being patriotic, Brooxie said; she hadn’t heard about flight nursing at the time. Brooxie applied for military service, joining in 1942. She was given two choices for initial assignment, one in Michigan and one in south Texas. Since Brooxie wanted to travel, she chose the Texas base, which happened to be an Army Air Corps field. An assignment near Dallas followed six months later, during which time Mowrey applied for flight nurse training, was accepted, and traveled to Bowman Field, KY in November 1943, graduating from the flight nurse course on 21 January 1944.

As a member of the 816 MAES, Brooxie joined Jenny Boyle, Louise de Flon and Frances Crabtree to travel with the squadron to England prior to D-Day. Once overseas, the flight nurses initially had little to do, so they were sent in pairs to bomber bases – mostly to B-17 and B-24 squadrons – “with the idea that – it sounded grand – in an emergency, become familiar with the plane, so if you had to use the plane for evacuation, you could”. At those bases the flight nurses attended the early morning pre-flight briefings, then worked in the base medical facility until time for the planes to return. Brooxie picks up the story:

And then when the planes came in, we’d also be on the flight line. And then as soon as most of the planes were in, one of our jobs – we got, at least I got a kick out of it – would be after their initial debriefing, they would get a shot of whiskey, and I would like to pass out the whiskey. And it seemed to give them a lift by doing it. … they’d reach for the glass, and it was kind of a double-take when they saw who was there.

Brooxie recalled a memorable mission during the Battle of the Bulge when first weather, then German strafing delayed take-off with patients.

And I was standing there alone in the door of the ship talking to one of the crewmen, and the Germans came over to strafe again. And I was thinking, Hey, we’re lined up nose to tail. And I don’t know what’s in all those supplies along the side. If it hits one of them, I’d better get out of here. So, I jumped out, and I was running for an open field. But I remembered at the time reaching in my pocket and taking gloves out, because I thought, Now, when I get out there, I’m going to hit the dirt. And I don’t want to hurt my hands. And when they finally did bring the patients back, we just got them on as fast as we could so we could get out of there. And it was the next day.

When asked if she thought her training had prepared her for her flight nurse duties, Brooxie quipped, “Maybe in small ways. But it didn’t work out. … There was a lot of nice theory, but it doesn’t always apply.” But Brooxie, like her flight nurse colleagues, found a way to make it work out. As she put it:

Well, it was a case of the situation was there – you had to make the most of it. You certainly weren’t treated to silk sheets or anything – you didn’t expect it. At least I felt I was doing a credible job and all. A lot of people can win a war besides shooting a gun, and the ambulance drivers, the clerks that take care of the paperwork – which, unfortunately has to be done. But everyone has a point. And I can’t think of anything I would change.

 

To listen to my interview with Brooxie Unick, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011368

 

Interviewed 25 May 1986, Satellite Beach, FL

Learn more about my interview with Brooxie on the Blog for 14 Aug 2016.

 

To be continued

World War II Army Flight Nurses – 14 Nov 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.

 

Agnes Jensen Mangerich (1914–2010)
807MAES, North Africa

Agnes Mangerich née JENSEN (Grace Hospital School of Nursing, Detroit, 1937) worked at Henry Ford Hospital for about two and a half years until she joined the Army in 1941. The military was recruiting nursing students “like mad,” Jensen said, so she decided to give Army nursing a try for a year. She joined ten months before Pearl Harbor was attacked and was assigned to Fort Benning, GA, where she was given some training in anesthesia. Agnes did not learn about flight nursing until she was already in the military. She and another nurse saw something posted on the bulletin board about nurses for air evacuation and decided to change their ward “from the floor to the sky – Let’s join air evac.” Agnes applied, was accepted, and left for Bowman Field, KY in May 1943, graduating from the flight nurse course on 2 July 1943 with Dorothy White as a classmate. Slated for the 809 MAES while at Bowman Field, Agnes volunteered to join the 807 MAES, which was short of nurses, to start flight nursing sooner. The 807 MAES traveled initially to North Africa before relocating in Sicily.

Recovering from a bout of dysentery, Agnes could have stayed in quarters the day she and half of the squadron’s flight nurses and enlisted medical technicians were loaded on a plane to fly from their duty station at Catania to two bases in Italy to set up air evacuation from those locations; Agnes was among those going to Bari. They never made it, for their plane encountered stormy weather, a radio malfunction, and German anti-aircraft fire. When their fuel ran out, the pilots had to make a forced landing in Albania behind enemy lines.


Agnes Jensen (right) and flight nurse colleague at 26th General Hospital, Bari, Italy
after return from Albania [USAF Photo]

Agnes recalled the moment she resigned herself to the inevitability of the situation: Well, we’re either going to hit a mountain or run out of gas, one or the other. She was scared but, because sleep always had been her forte, she glanced at the others, settled into her bucket seat, and thought, This is it, … Well, what the hell. I’d rather be sleeping. The crew chief was injured on impact, but the downed crew members all survived the landing. They spent the next several months evading the Germans while making their way to Allied territory, where the crew were taken by boat to Bari, Italy – Agnes’s original destination – for medical checks at the 26th General Hospital before returning to their squadron. Agnes wrote about their experiences in Albanian Escape: The True Story of U.S. Army Nurses Behind Enemy Lines (University Press of Kentucky, 1999). She died in 2010 at age 95.

To listen to my interview with Agnes Mangerich, click on the link:

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/80011352

 

Interviewed 25 May 1986, Cocoa Beach, FL
Learn more about my interview with Agnes on the Blog for 24 Jul 2016.

To be continued

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