They Called Them Angels: American Military Nurses of World War II

By Kathi Jackson | Go to book overview

APPENDIX 9A: TALES OF AN AIR FORCE NURSE

Eugenie Rutkowski Wilkinson, of the 807th MAES, had several adventures while a flight nurse. Many years after the war, she put them together in a letter to her daughter.

We disembarked and were quartered in large tents in a bivouac area. Dinner was different from the food on the ship [which she said was "excellent"]. K-packages were distributed. After sunset, I decided to attend an outdoor movie near my tent area. It was pleasant sitting on the grass and watching the film. I don't remember what had been shown because, suddenly, all hell broke loose. Alert alarms were blasting, planes droning above, and antiaircraft guns bombarding the sky. Talk about being scared, I sure was. I started to run toward my tent area foxhole. Next thing I knew a hand grabbed my arm and a British voice yelled "keep pumping." I ran as fast as I could to keep up with him. He guided me to a Nazi bunker. I noticed he was a British lieutenant. The bunker was made and used by Rommel's people before they were rousted out of Africa. The lieutenant had made himself comfortable in the bunker. He had a cot, table, two chairs, and a large opening in one wall. It was situated in front of French antiaircraft guns which seemed to be shooting continuously. Every fifth bullet was a tracer. The lieutenant was very casual about the noise and activity. He offered me a chair, a glass of wine, and a view. It looked like the Fourth of July fireworks. I needed that drink of wine because my stomach was upset and my hands shaking. I hesitated to lift the glass until I had control of my hands. I could not believe this introduction to war.


When Rutkowski started working evacuation flights, C-47s, out of an area north of Catania, Sicily, her first flight was to Bari, Italy.

We did not work in teams as planned. There were many Americans need[ing] to be evacuated. Effort was made to remove them from the battle area as soon as possible. Flying to Bari, I was in the cabin alone. Looking out the window I saw fighter planes approaching us from the rear. It took just three leaps for me to cross the cabin into the cockpit to let the crew know about the fighters. They had seen them and had been notified that British fighters would provide escort. The escort didn't last long. The fighters were notified of a raid in Bari. They went ahead to tangle with the Nazi Luftwaffe. Our pilot descended to a lower altitude, reduced speed to give the fighters time to clear the area so that we could land. The landing was uneventful. We loaded the plane as quickly as we could with army soldiers and flew to Algiers.

-119-

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They Called Them Angels: American Military Nurses of World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Note xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Notes xx
  • Chapter 1 Uncle Sam Wants You! 1
  • Notes 6
  • Chapter 2 from Whites to Fatigues 7
  • Notes 15
  • Chapter 3 Following the Troops 17
  • Notes 21
  • Chapter 4 the Pacific Theater 23
  • Notes 47
  • Chapter 5 the Mediterranean Theater 51
  • Notes 62
  • Chapter 6 the European Theater 65
  • Notes 82
  • Appendix 6a: Rain on A Tent in Normandy 85
  • Appendix 6b: China Doll 86
  • Appendix 6c: the Gardelegen Barn 88
  • Appendix 6d: Second Lieutenant Frances Y. Slanger 92
  • Chapter 7 the China-Burma-India Theater 93
  • Notes 97
  • Chapter 8 the United States and Western Atlantic Minor Theaters 99
  • Notes 106
  • Appendix 8a: Nursing in A Stateside Burn Ward 107
  • Chapter 9 Wild Blue Yonder 109
  • Notes 117
  • Appendix 9a: Tales of An Air Force Nurse 119
  • Chapter 10 Life at Sea 121
  • Notes 135
  • Chapter 11 Camaraderie and Romance 139
  • Notes 152
  • Chapter 12 Leaving a Legacy 155
  • Notes 169
  • Appendices 171
  • Notes 182
  • Bibliography 183
  • Index 207
  • About the Author 213
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