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:
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:
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