You Betcha I'm a Proud Army Mom

Ramblings of an Army mom and probably some rants about the world at large. These are my ramblings and rants and no one else's. Just so you know...

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

War Angels

Always in war there are the wounded. There are also the ones who tend to them. From the Revolutionary War to the present, there have been courageous women who have stepped onto the battlefield to give aid to those who fell in battle. These woman became known as "war angels" or "angels of the battlefield" to the soldiers who have known their touch and care.


Thirty Thousand Women Were There

"In 1901 and 1908 the establishment of the Army and Navy Nurse Corps opened the door for women in the military but ever so slightly. It wasn't until the United States got involved in World War One that some parts of the government got serious about using woman power.

As the Army stumbled around bureaucratic red tape
trying to figure out how to enlist women the Navy simply ignored the War Department dissenters and quickly recruited women. Nearly 13,000 women enlisted in the Navy and the Marine Corps on the same status as men and wore a uniform blouse with insignia. The Navy's policy was extended to the Coast Guard, but personnel records from World War I contain scarcely any references to the Coast Guard Yeomanettes. A handful of them apparently were employed at the diminutive Coast Guard headquarters building in Washington. Nineteen-year-old twin sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker transferred from the Naval Coastal Defense Reserve to become the first uniformed women in the Coast Guard. With the war's end the Coast Guard Yeomanettes, along with their Navy and Marine Corps counterparts, were mustered out of the service.
These were the first women in the U.S to be admitted some military rank and status."

The April 1917 entry of the United States into the First World War brought a great expansion of the Nurse Corps, both Regular and Reserve.
In 1917-18, the Navy deployed five Base Hospital units to operational areas in France, Scotland and Ireland, with the first in place by late 1917. Also serving overseas were special Navy Operating Teams, including nurses, established for detached duty near the combat frontlines. Some of these teams were loaned to the Army during 1918's intense ground offensives and worked in difficult field conditions far removed from regular hospitals.
During the war, 19 Navy Nurses died on active duty, over half of them from influenza. Three of the four Navy Crosses awarded to wartime Navy Nurses went to victims of the fight against the deadly 'flu.
By the time of the Armistice on 11 November 1918, over 1550 nurses had served in Naval hospitals and other facilities at home and abroad. Shortly after the fighting's end, a few Navy Nurses were assigned to duty aboard transports bringing troops home from Europe.

From Base Hospital No. 10, Paul B. Hoeber later wrote:

"Upon their arrival, sixty four American nurses were faced with a 2,000 bed hospital. The first hard experience came when an exceedingly large convoy of patients, overwhelmed by Mustard gas, and the picture of intense suffering, poured in on them in great numbers... 600 in less than 48 hours, and it was repeated for many a night."

Nurses Memorial

"Against a background of evergreens, the heroic size white marble figure looks out upon the Army, Navy and Air Force nurses who so valiantly earned their right to lie at Arlington. The granite statue of a nurse in uniform, sculptured by Frances Rich, honors the nurses who served in the U.S. armed forces in World War I, many of whom rest among the hundreds of nurses buried in Section 21 -- also called the "Nurses Section."

On July 13, 1970, Navy Capt. Delores Cornelius, deputy director of the Navy Nurse Corps, requested authority to install a bronze plaque over the existing inscription on the Nurses Monument. The inscription at that time simply read "Army and Navy Nurses." Authority was granted Nov. 20, 1970, to place a 12-inch-by-18-inch bronze plaque over the carved inscription.

The inscription, in raised letters, on the plaque reads:






Col. Anita Newcomb McGee, as president of the Society of Spanish-American War Nurses, is credited with directing the efforts that culminated in erection of the monument dedicated to the memory of those brave women volunteers who nursed the wounded and sick who died of tropical plagues in the Spanish-American War.

Dr. McGee founded the Army Nurse Corps and was the only woman with the rank of assistant surgeon of the U.S. Army. At the request of the surgeon general, George M. Sternberg, Dr. McGee was given the task of passing upon the qualifications of those who sought appointment as contract nurses in the Spanish-American War. Dr. McGee helped write the bill creating the Army Nurse Corps and also established the Nurses Reserve which proved so valuable in World War I. Dr. McGee was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in 1940."

Modern Nurse Corps

The Nurse Corps continues as a prominent part of the Navy medical establishment. As of 2005, the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps is Rear Admiral Nancy J. Lescavage. Currently, it consists of officers from the rank of Ensign and higher. The Nurse Corps has a distinctive insignia of a single Oak Leaf, on one collar point, or in place of a line officer's star on shoulder boards. Nurse officers are commissioned through Navy ROTC, and Officer Indoctriation School.

The Army Nurse Corps consists entirely of commissioned officers. All members of the Army Nurse Corps are required to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree or better prior to receiving a commission. Members of the Army Nurse Corps work all around the world at all echelons of the Army. The Chief of the Army Nurse Corps is a major general.


I just changed the bandage on another wounded leg
And though he suffered silently, his eyes did softly beg
For a way to make some sense of the pain I know he feels
And though his leg will slowly mend, his heart may never heal.
He’s just a child caught up in the crossfire in the street.
He never imagined in his life, that soldiers he would meet.

I just gave a soldier a shot in his right arm
I would have used the other one but I see that it is gone.
He had manned a turret in a Bradley on that day
The explosion caught him by surprise and tore his arm away.
I try to tell him that I’m proud. He’s done all that he can,
But he isn’t listening to me, he’s watching my two hands.

I do this every single day, some days are worse than others
Like the day that side by side, two critical wounded brothers.
I think of how their parents feel, to know the sacrifice
That both their boys will soon be gone, they had to give their life.
I miss my family very much, never been this far away.
I realize, though, how small the price that I have had to pay.

The days are long, the work is hard and I don’t get much sleep
But cannot for a moment drop the vigil that I keep.
I have to do what e’er I can for these women and these men.
My heart is full of sadness for the misery they’re in.
I wage a battle of my own, brought on by my emotions
I must keep a lighter side when I want to cry an ocean.

I have to tell them it’s alright, when I’m really not so sure
Some are hurt so badly that their future’s quite obscure.
I have to look at sights I never thought I’d have to see
And thank the Lord that in their place I’ll never have to be.
So when it gets the best of me and I think that I chose wrong
I realize that I’m really blest and right where I belong.

David E. Dunham Copyright 2006

(used with permission)

(Linked to the Carnival of Blue Stars #7 ~ Thanks, Beth!)