801st MEAS (Medical Air Evacuation Squadron)
5th Air Force
U.S. Air Force
I was teaching flight technicians and flight nurses at the School of Aviation Medicine, in Texas, when on September 15, 1950; I received orders to report to the 5th Air Force in Japan. From 1946 to 1948 I had served with the 801st MEAS in the Philippines and Occupied Japan.
My trip home, to Alabama, to visit my folks was quick and short. On the 19th of September, I left Brooklyn Air Base in Mobile, Alabama. It was a non-stop flight—nine hours and fifteen minutes—to Fairfield Susan Air Force Base [renamed to Travis Air Force Base in 1951] in California. Upon my arrival in San Francisco, I was taken to the Bachelor Officers Quarters—this is where the women stayed. There were twenty-one other flight nurses here, one of whom was my friend Kay MacDonald from Prince Edward Island; we had taught together at the School of Aviation Medicine. We all would be joining the 801st.
With stops in Hawaii, Wake and Midway Island’s, we landed at Haneda, Japan, on the 5th of October. After processing the following day, we were taken to Tachikawa (Tachi), where we checked in at the 801st Headquarters.
From Tachikawa I flew down to Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan, where I stayed in the small town of Ashyia. The town was near the Itazuke Air Force Base.
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In September of 1950, Major General William Tunner arrived in Japan. At that time, two out of three casualties were taken to Pusan by truck or rail. From there they were transported to Japan by ship. However, after Tunner’s aircraft delivered supplies to the troops in Korea, they frequently returned to Japan empty; this didn’t make any sense to him. So, he stressed the use of aircraft to evacuate the wounded to Japan—the 801st carried out this mission.
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My day started at 4:30 AM, and after breakfast I gathered supplies for the trip. I was picked up at 5:30 AM for a 6:00 AM take-off. We would hitch a ride to Kimpo, which was about twelve miles south of Seoul, with either the 6th or 22nd Troop Carrier Squadrons. Getting to Korea was no problem, since planes were flying to Kimpo twenty-four hours a day.
When we landed, Staff Sergeant Horace Waters—the medical technician—and I would walk to the Air Evac Quonset hut to check with the Medical Administrative Commander about the patients that we would be taking back to Japan.
After arriving in Japan, the patients were offloaded into ambulances and taken to the 118th Army Hospital, which was located about an hour’s drive from the airfield.
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Some days when we landed the injured would be waiting at the Quonset hut, and other days we would have to wait hours for their arrival. So, rather than wait one day, I wanted to go where these wounded men were coming from. I was able to hitch a ride in an empty ambulance, and the driver was more than happy to have someone riding with him. On our way to Inchon Harbor, we passed through “no man’s land.” This was an area considered extremely dangerous, and only those with a specific purpose were allowed in there. When we arrived at the harbor, patients were being lowered from the hospital ship Consolation; as I watched I was amazed how the Navy medics moved these wounded men. Like clockwork, the patients were lowered into small boats, where they were brought ashore to the waiting ambulances. On our trip back three of us rode in the front seat as the ambulance moved slowly over the rough roads.
Before loading the wounded, the Medical Administrative Commander would hand me a manifest that listed name, and condition along with comments such as ambulatory or litter, arm or leg in cast, taking nasal oxygen, or patient with IV.
After all the cargo had been offloaded, Sgt. Waters and I quickly converted the cabin into a hospital ward. Waters unrolled the litter straps that were attached to the cabin walls and fastened them to the floor. The handles of each litter would be secured in the straps, with three litters in a tier. For the ambulatory patients—those who could walk—canvas seats equipped with safety belts were put in place.
Waters and I would study the manifest and determine where each patient needed to be placed. We then signaled to the administrative officer that we were ready for loading. The waiting ambulances backed up to the ramp, then the ambulance crews carefully carried the litters into the plane; the ambulatory patients boarded last. I checked each patient’s dog-tags with the manifest as they came aboard.
Regulations required, during take-off and landing, all medical personnel are seated with their seat belt fastened—unless a medical situation required their attention. Such a case would be to hold an IV apparatus or to administer oxygen to a patient.
When we landed at Itazuke, ambulances were waiting for their precious cargo. After these men were loaded into the box-looking ambulances that displayed a red cross, they were taken on a sixty minute journey to the 118th Army Hospital.
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I recall on the 13th of October—a Friday—getting up at 7:00 AM to fix breakfast for the girls that were flying that day. It wasn’t very often that several of us were there to eat breakfast together due to our schedules. However, that day we enjoyed eggs, bacon, toast, jelly, tomato juice and coffee.
The day before, Kay and I had flown to Kimpo where many patients were waiting. She returned to Itazuke, on the same plane we flew over in, with thirty litter patients. Staying behind with the remaining wounded were Waters and myself; we waited for the next cargo plane.
Knowing it would be a while before we left, I asked several of the men when was the last time they had eaten; they had not eaten in the last eight hours. There were twenty men on stretchers and six ambulatory, although hungry, each was happy to be leaving the war—none complained of hunger.
I asked Waters to look after the men while I went to find something for them to eat. Asking for a few volunteers to go with me, I headed to the mess hall. As we entered, I asked to speak to the mess officer; surprised to see a female, a baby-faced sergeant looked up. I explained to him that I was a flight nurse and we had wounded men waiting for a plane to Japan that were hungry. Then I went on to ask if he had any food to give them.
With a proud look on his face, he said he did and we could have all we needed. However, he explained he didn’t have enough mess kits. By this time, those eating in the mess hall had heard us talking and everyone wanted to help—a clear indication we were all in this conflict together.
Within fifteen minutes a group of soldiers were serving hot rations to the wounded men. Due to the shortage of mess kits, some improvised by using toothbrush holders and sticks of celery as utensils; others were loaned forks and spoons from soldiers in the mess hall. After everyone had finished, the smiling mess hall workers picked up everything and returned to the mess hall. Ninety minutes later we were in the air.
During our flight, some of the men told me stories of their horrible experiences; others played cards while some slept. After landing, the patients were taken to Osaka General Hospital.
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The air was crisp with a touch of autumn weather as we loaded a group of United Nations soldiers, not all of whom spoke English, onto the C-46. One was an ROK soldier with a cast on his left leg, so we placed his litter in the straps where his leg could extent out into the aisle—for easy access to care. You could tell by his facial expressions that he was in a lot of pain.
After everyone was secured, the plane was cleared for take-off. As I looked around the cabin everyone seemed to be comfortable, except the young Korean soldier. For his pain, I thought about giving him a shot of morphine, when it occurred to me that Kim spoke some English and might be able to translate for me. Kim was a young Korean boy who worked at our base, but I’m not sure why he was on the plane. I asked him to speak to the young man about his pain. As they talked, I noticed the patient rubbed his stomach. Kim said that he hurt there—he was hungry. I was extremely thankful for this information, because I was about to inject him with Demerol—when all he needed was food.
I immediately plugged in the hot cup and heated up a cup of water; then I dropped in a cube of bouillon and broke up some crackers in it. For an empty stomach, this was ideal food. As he ate his second cup his expression gradually brightened, which gave me a warm feeling.
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One night at the base club, I was talking with some of the C-119 pilots as they were reliving some of their cargo drops. I interrupted, asking if one of them would take me on a drop mission, because I wanted to watch men jump from a plane and watch their parachutes open. They looked puzzled at each other, glanced at me, then laughed. Realizing I was serious, one of the pilots with a devilish grin whispered, “Shall I call you in the morning?” Both of us knew what we were planning to do was not “kosher.” I wrote down my name and phone number and handed it to him. He told me that he would call early the next morning—I could hardly wait.
We usually took-off around 6:00 AM, so early to me meant before 6:00 AM. I laid out my clothes so I could get dressed quickly when he called. When I woke the clock read 8:00 AM. I missed the call; I had overslept. My first thought was the C-119 must already be in the air, dropping troops. After drinking a cup of strong, black coffee, I collected enough courage to walk to the Air Evac Quonset hut, located near the flight line.
When I arrived, the news I heard almost knocked me off my feet. Right after their take-off one of the engines went out. The pilot then tried to radio the tower, but his radio was also out; then another engine failed. Finally, the pilot had to make an emergency landing in a field, damaging the plane to the point it was no longer capable of flying. The following day the crew made it back to the base—safe and sound.
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As Sgt. Waters and I flew to Kimpo, this time there was a passenger on the plane. He worked in the motor pool at the airfield. After we arrived we learned it would be several hours before the plane would be ready to transport the wounded. So, I walked over to the motor pool and the guy on the plane was standing next to a jeep—with the hood raised. I explained to him that I would like to see what Seoul looked like now that it had been retaken by the Marines—he honored my request.
It was a pleasant, sunny day as we passed people working in their rice paddies. We slowed as we crossed the Han River on a one-way pontoon bridge. As we crossed I looked down and in the distance saw the bodies of Koreans that had died weeks earlier, lying on the riverbank.
As we drove around the city, I carefully surveyed what was around me. Whole blocks of houses, and stores, that laid in ruins. When the Marines were fighting their way into the city, the North Koreans burned many of the ancient temples, shrines, and buildings that were hundreds of years old.
Gradually the locals were beginning to return, scratching around all the the debris looking to save anything of value.
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It was early October and Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, was in the hands of the U.N. Forces. When we landed there in a C-47, at least fifty patients were waiting to be evacuated; however, the C-47 only had a capacity of twenty-seven. Most of these men were brought in by ambulances, but some were flown in by helicopters.
By this time General MacArthur had become so optimistic with the northward advancement of the U.N. troops that he believed the North Korean Army was all but destroyed. So, the radio news carried his announcement to the troops that they would be home for Christmas.
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As we took-off at 5:00 AM from Itami, the cabin of the C-46 was full of fifty-five gallon drums of fuel headed for K-28—the airfield at Wonson. After our arrival we unloaded the cargo and we headed south to Kimpo. Here we picked up ammunition and flew it to Pyongyang. Once the ammo was unloaded we took on wounded. Most of which were on stretchers; three were in serious condition.
One had shrapnel near his lung, and was thought to be bleeding internally. Another had a severe head injury with a great loss of blood, and the other had a fractured pelvis.
The ambulance crew lifted each stretcher to two men that were standing on the hood of a truck; they in turn lifted the stretcher into the plane. This is how we loaded the plane when there was no ramp. The patients were grimy with dirt from combat, and had a look of bewilderment.
Air evac planes had first priority for take-off, but on a busy airfield this didn’t mean much. However, if a high-ranking official had an urgent mission, he was allowed first departure. Thank goodness our pilot received immediate clearance for take-off, because darkness was approaching and there were no runway lights.
To accommodate the patient with the head injury and the one with shrapnel near his lung, the pilot flew below three-thousand feet. As we ascended the cabin cooled and the patients slept as we flew over the Sea of Japan. Three hours later we landed in Itami, where ambulances were waiting. The wounded men were taken to Osaka General Hospital.
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Darkness was falling as ground flares marked the runway at Wonson when we landed with medical supplies, and drums of fuel. As the plane doors opened, the ground crew yelled up to us that there was a hot birthday dinner waiting for us in the mess hall; it was the Marine Corps birthday—November 10th.
We hopped into a jeep and headed for the mess hall as the ground crew unloaded our cargo. Upon entering I couldn’t help but notice the paintings that hung on the walls. They were strange, and I soon learned they were Russian characters. The Soviets had occupied the building not too long before U.N. forces took over the airfield. We were served steak—cooked to our liking—crunchy French fries, peas, and bread and butter. For desert we had warm apple pie with plenty of milk and coffee.
As I ate my steak, and peas, visions of my brother Jack’s enjoyment of the Marines annual birthday events danced in my head. Jack was a Marine through and through; having fought in the Second World War, and now Korea—years later he would serve in Vietnam. He passed away in 1969, at the young age of forty-six.
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On the 27th of November, our cargo to Pyongyang was unusual—socks. As the soldiers marched over frozen ground, in the bitter cold, their feet would perspire causing their socks to become wet and freeze to their feet. So, to help protect their feet, a new policy was instated for the men to change their socks twice a day.
The dirty socks were flown back to Japan, where they were washed and returned to Korea—to be worn again.
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It was now the 28th of November, and while we were waiting on the airstrip in Pyongyang, I wrote my mother.
There were only twenty-one days left before Christmas, and it wasn’t looking good for our boys to be home for the Holidays. It was just weeks earlier that MacArthur had rashly made this promise to the troops. One of the patients told me that MacArthur hadn’t said which Christmas.
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We were supposed to have landed in Pyongyang; however, the pilot had been told that by the time we arrived the airfield could be in the hands of the Communist forces. So, the pilot received instructions to circle the area several times, looking for signs of fighting, and to use his best judgment about landing.
All crew members wore a patch on their jacket, which stated the code of the Geneva Convention. Written in English and Chinese, it gave in detail the definition and treatment of a Prisoner of War. But, for the most part, it stated each person was to be treated humanely.
The thought that we might be flying over enemy controlled territory was very scary. From the air everything appeared quiet; we saw no troop movement on the narrow roads. So, the pilot decided to land.
It was during the return flight that I met the famed Life photographer—David Douglas Duncan. He was in Pyongyang hoping to get a story; the military strategists had predicted the takeover of the capital city of North Korea would be a bloody occasion.
As the plane took-off, David and I were setting next to each other on the canvas jump seats. When the “No Smoking” sign was turned off David removed his Zippo lighter from his pocket, lighting a cigarette. Staring at the planes metal floor, he told me he had missed his story. He said that he had come for the action—people killing each other. And in doing so, he had failed to photograph the bombed out buildings, destroyed homes, the deserted streets, or the displaced people—the true ravages of war.
After landing, and unloading the plane, I never saw Duncan again.
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Several days later, with an empty plane, we flew to Wonson. As we exited the plane, we saw supplies being burned—to prevent the enemy from getting them—all around the airstrip. As we listened to the distant gun and mortar fire, flakes of burned material floated in the air.
Being hungry, we decided it was time to eat the C-rations that were aboard the plane; so, we had ourselves a picnic. We heated the C-rations, which turned out to be pork sausage and gravy. There were some burning coals lying on the ground, and they served as our centerpiece.
As we were enjoying our picnic, wounded soldiers began to arrive. They came by ambulances, trucks, carried by litter bearers, and some were walking; these men were too exhausted to talk. We soon had the plane loaded and off we went.
The heaters began to warm the cabin once we reached cruising altitude, and the men slowly drifted off to sleep. None of us realized that when we left, the Chinese were only a few miles north of the airstrip.
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The 12th of December was the first day I had not flown in three weeks. My days began as early as 4:00 AM and ended as late as 1:00 AM the following morning.
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I had been rotated to Tachikawa for five weeks when Captain Jamie Palm and I flew to Yong Po—near Hungnam. We had some time to kill as we waited our turn for patients; so, we caught a ride in an ambulance to Wonson Harbor—the source of our patients.
Most of the guys we were to evacuate had been treated aboard the Consolation; the hospital ship anchored in the harbor. An LCM (landing craft medium) transported recently wounded soldiers to the ship and brought back those that were to be evacuated by plane. Not only were we amazed at how the Navy men handled the wounded, but the variety of ships anchored offshore—an Army transport, an aircraft carrier, a battleship, and many other smaller craft.
A few days later I made the last flight into Yong Po; the airfield was completely evacuated that day as part of the U.N. withdrawal to South Korea.
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The Armed Forces radio continually aired Christmas programs with Fibber McGee and Molly, along with Amos and Andy; plus, a variety of other Christmas music. Several of the girls thought we should leave our tree up until New Year’s; so, we waited later to put it up so the needles wouldn’t dry out. Loretta and Jamie bought some lights and decorations in Osaka, so we decorated our house and had a tree decorating party on Christmas Eve. Even the Marines who lived next door came over and helped decorate.
During the early morning darkness on Christmas, I ate a bowl of oatmeal while I dressed. I put on a pair of slacks and wool shirt over my pajamas, then my thick, padded flight suit. Next on were the heavy wool socks and my brown, high-topped boots. Then for the finishing touch, I put on my fur-lined hat and gloves. Now I was ready for the flight to the Frozen Chosin.
As our plane flew high over the Korean hills, I looked down and saw the fresh sprinkling of a light snow on the ground. This reminded me of mother as she sprinkled confection sugar on her baked cookies at Christmas.
We soon landed, and quickly brought the wounded aboard. During the flight, several of the men told me of their recent ordeals; I gladly listened as they graphically spelled out the horror of war. Sgt. Waters and I passed out comic books to those well enough to read; I felt like Santa Claus with his bag of toys.
That Christmas Day, in 1950, was like none I have ever experienced.
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Today, when I think of the bitter sub-zero air that swooped in after we landed at Hagaru-ri, I shiver. As we sat there, the plane grew steadily colder as we loaded the wounded. There were so many of them that they were being flown out as fast as the planes could land, load, and take-off.
The short, makeshift runways were too dangerous for the larger C-54’s, so the men were being evacuated in C-46’s. As soon as Waters had checked to see that all the litters were secure, and I had made myself familiar with the conditions of the men, we were ready for take-off.
As we taxied down the bumpy runway, I announced there was no smoking until we reached level altitude. And that the heaters would warm them up in a few minutes. I then asked if there were any questions. A Marine asked if I knew the score of the Notre Dame – Army football game. Not having kept up with football scores, and not wanting to look like a dummy; I told him I didn’t know about that game, but Navy beat Army.
All the Marines laughed, and cheered. Being a former Army nurse, I said “I don’t think it’s good that Army got whipped.” It was instances like these that made me glad that I was a flight nurse. I had the best job in the world.
* * * * * *
On our flight from Taegu, Korea, to Itami, Japan, the air was smooth and we had nice weather. Aboard was a mixed load of patients; three Frenchmen, one Turk, one U.S. Marine, along with thirteen other U.N. servicemen—sixteen being litter patients.
The U.S. Marine had a crushed chest and was receiving oxygen, and plasma. I monitored the flow of plasma in his ankle vein to be sure it wasn’t flowing too quickly, and to be sure it wasn’t spreading into surrounding tissue.
I had to administer a shot of morphine for an Army PFC, who had an abdominal laceration that was causing him severe pain. One of the Frenchmen was given a dose of sodium amytal, after which he rested comfortably. We partially inflated the Mae West life vests to use as pillows for those lying on the stretchers, so they could be more comfortable.
Finally, we landed at Itami, and as the Frenchman was being taken off the plane, he reached over and touched my ankle—to get my attention. As I looked down at his smiling face, he patted his chest in a way that made me know he appreciated the care he had received.
After all the men had been unloaded, and taken to Osaka General Hospital, the crew returned to Ashyia—our home base.
* * * * * *
After an airdrop, north of Pyongyang, I was on a return flight that was carrying a group of men that had escaped from behind enemy lines. Their heavily bearded faces made them look shaggy and distraught; however, they were happy to be alive. As I listened to their stories, and watched their expressions, I saw the spirit of the American fighting man come alive. This is the story one of the young men told me.
I don’t know how many days and nights the ten of us tried to break through enemy lines.
Swallowing to choke back emotion, he paused for a moment; then slowly continued.
After a while, there were only five of us left. Being tired, hungry, cold, and frostbitten, we reached a farmer’s shed; frightened and exhausted we crawled in.
The following morning, I woke up and there stood a Korean farmer staring down at us. I thought to myself that we had had it, but he was friendly to us and brought us food. Being able to speak some broken English, he said he would go get us some help.
We weren’t sure where he was going—maybe he was going to get the enemy—but there wasn’t anything we could do except wait.
Three days later, in the afternoon, we heard someone shout, “Are any Americans here?” Were we ever glad to see a bunch of GI’s walking toward us.
His feet were so badly frostbitten that it looked to me that they would have to be amputated. However, he thought in a different way; he didn’t want to return to the States, he wanted to get well enough to return to his unit. He added, “Just think. Those GI’s risked their lives to save us five guys.”
All I had heard of the North Korean Army was of their barbarism. Just the day before, I heard stories about how they and the Communist Chinese had killed several hundred Allied prisoners in cold blood; then to hear the story of the kindness shown by the North Korean farmer.
The young man could see I was upset and he began to tell me that the Chinese and Russian Communist warlords were forcing their will on the Korean people. I was so surprised, I couldn’t speak.
I learned a lot from this young man—whose name I can’t remember. However, I would bet my last dollar that if he had his feet amputated he learned to walk, and moved ahead with his life.
* * * * * *
On the 5th of December, I wrote my mother telling her that the 801st had evacuated men with wounds, and frostbite, from the Koto-ri and Hagaru-ri area. The inadequate airstrips were entirely surrounded by enemy troops, and were subjected to hostile fire. Over a period of a few weeks, one-hundred thirty-one flights had airlifted men to medical care, and safety.
* * * * * *
The Marine squadron we had been flying with was suddenly called back to Hawaii. So, being without planes to evacuate the wounded, there was no reason for the 801st to remain at Itami. At 3:00 PM on a Tuesday, we learned of our moving. Having spent most of the night packing, we left Itami at 7:30 AM on Wednesday morning headed for Ashyia.
Soon, I was flying again from Ashyia to Pusan.
* * * * * *
It was now February, 1951 and even though our evac work continued, it had somewhat changed in character. We were moving Chinese Prisoners of War to prison camps in the south—it was the humane thing to do. Their wounds were infected, and often full of white, squirming maggots. The wounds that had been bandaged smelled foul and needed changing. Many of the men were starving. And since they could no longer fight, the Chinese had sadistically left them behind—to die.
We were also evacuating our own men who had been prisoners, and escaped. These men had managed to survive by eating twigs, and drinking muddy water. And without the use of maps, were able to find their way to friendly troops.
* * * * * *
It was March 15, 1951 and we were oblivious to the fact that Seoul had been recaptured for the fourth time, by UN forces.
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I was flown to Tachikawa to teach medical technicians, which was a change of pace from my daily routine. Lt. Colonel Allen, my CO, had asked me to teach a mini-course to the men who had recently been assigned to the 801st. These were medics who had not been trained in air evacuation techniques.
After their training, they were assigned to units where they were needed.
* * * * * *
It was Easter time and the world-renowned evangelist E. Stanley Jones spoke at the base chapel. He was in Japan on a six-week tour, preaching to Americans and speaking to the non-English speaking Japanese who worked at the base. For Easter I made hot cross buns and we ate them with ham and eggs—what an enjoyable breakfast.
A week later, Lt. Colonel Verena Zeller—Chief Nurse of the U.S. Air Force—was in Japan. She was part of a team that was inspecting the facilities in the Far East Air Force; I had a part in introducing them to the members of the 801st MAES. The team was headed by General Armstrong, the U.S. Surgeon General, and consisted of General Swartzenberg, Chief Surgeon of the Air Force, Colonel Ben Strickland, head of the School of Aviation Medicine at Gunter AFB, along with six physicians.
When Lt. Colonel Zeller asked me if I would like to return to SAM—to teach—I could hardly believe my ears. Having been here less than a year, and not the usual two-year period, I knew special arrangements would have to be made before I could return to the States. Colonel Strickland carefully pointed out the necessary negotiations within the chain of command that were required for me to be reassigned.
Even though I respected the “bird colonel” insignia he wore, I thought of Ben as a friend. When I lived at Randolph, I knew his wife and two daughters. Just the thought of returning to school gave me something to dream about.
I was accompanied on a special evacuation flight—from Teagu to Tachikawa—by General Armstrong, Dr. Henderson, and Colonel’s Strickland and Zeller. On this Sunday we had a mixed group of patients including soldiers from France, Greece, Turkey, and several American paratroopers that had been injured in an airdrop.
The patients were eager to talk about their experiences, and give their views to the group. However, my time was consumed with those patients who needed tending too.
* * * * * *
On the 11th of April 1951, I was teaching at Tachikawa when President Truman released General Douglas MacArthur from his command. After their defeat of the Second World War, MacArthur treated the Japanese fairly. This is why, on that misty, gloomy day, people lined the narrow streets as he droved to Haneda to leave their country forever. I was among them, joining in their sadness.
* * * * * *
It was June and we were busy flying. In one day I flew four short trips—an eighteen-hour day. We were picking up patients that had been treated at a M.A.S.H. unit. On our last flight we had nineteen litter and six ambulatory patients. These men had broken arms, legs, and fingers; conditions that would take time to heal. One patient had a fractured pelvis, and was in tremendous pain.
On the tenth, the news reported about the increased use of air power against the enemy suggested the war would get worse before it got better. The day before, with a load of K-rations, we landed in a forward area near the fighting. After the cargo was unloaded, we took aboard seven soldiers that had been injured in a truck accident.
The following day our load consisted of thirty ambulatory Marines. We were able to serve lunch during the flight, which was provided by the mess hall. During the past ten months, air evac services had definitely improved.
* * * * * *
Finally, I received orders reassigning me to Gunter Field, in Montgomery, Alabama. During the next two weeks I packed my belongings, said good-bye to my friends, and was on a plane heading to Alabama. I wasn’t alone; the plane was loaded with wounded men who told of their experiences. As I listened, I again came face-to-face with the horrors of war.
We had a stop at Hickam Field in Honolulu, so I wired my aunt and uncle who were there on vacation. They were there to meet my plane, and as I ran to meet them, I felt the firm hand—of a customs inspector—on my shoulder. Before I was allowed to talk with anyone, I had to go through customs.
After a five day stay, as their guest, at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, I boarded a plane bound for the School of Aviation Medicine in Montgomery.
I reported for duty in June of 1951, and within the year I met an Air Force officer—my future husband. In September of 1952, we were married. We wanted to begin a family, and at that time a nurse could not have a dependent under the age of eighteen. I reluctantly resigned my commission.
I was always happy that I had followed my father’s advice, and joined the Army Nurse Corps. My eight years of service, in the Army and Air Force, enriched my life.