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Slide Presentation 5

Army Nurse Corps History Home > Army Nursing History in Pictures > History of the Army Nurse Corps, Slide Presentation with Narration

HISTORY OF THE ARMY NURSE CORPS
(Slide Presentation with Narration)

WORLD WAR II

The U.S. officially entered WWII as a combatant following the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. 56,793 nurses

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would serve with 32,500 of them overseas. This was the largest

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group of nurses ever to be in the Army Nurse Corps. Army Nurses served in all parts of the world. They landed

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in North Africa on the day of the invasion, with the staff of the

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48th Surgical Hospital. In Jan 1944, Army Nurses waded ashore on Anzio Beachhead in Italy following troop landings just five days

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earlier; six Army Nurses at Anzio later lost their lives as a

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result of enemy bombing attacks. The first two evacuation hospitals, with their complements of nurses, landed in Normandy on 10 June 1944, four days after the invasion there. The wartime experience brought innovations which revolutionized medical services. In Europe, during the major battle offensives, Army Nurses assisted in developing the concept of a recovery ward for immediate post-op nursing care.

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Air evacuation of patients from the combat zone by fixed wing aircraft brought patients to definitive treatment quickly.

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The flight nurses helped to establish the incredible record of only five deaths in flight per 100,000 patients transported.

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The rigors of wartime service brought uniform changes to the Corps, as well. Although by the time of the invasion of Normandy, nurses were authorized to wear fatigues, back in 42,

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nurses in the Philippines adapted to jungle conditions by scavenging for surplus Army Air Corps uniforms. Flight nurses were particularly eager to switch to a more serviceable pants uniform. They achieved the change only after a fateful flight with the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps. Delighted to experience

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her first flight, COL Florence Blanchfield boarded a plane used at Bowman Airfield, Kentucky for flight nurse training. Dressed in the popular pink and green dress uniform, she donned the required parachute. The more experienced flight nurses assured her it would not need to be laced into position (from back to front between the legs) unless trouble occurred in the flight. Shortly into the flight an engine faltered and the pilot directed all aboard to prepare to jump. That feat required a rather indelicate maneuver of the parachute straps which even the Chief of the Corps could not accomplish gracefully wearing a skirt. A few tense moments later, the engine miraculously restarted in flight and the excursion ended with a smooth landing at the Air

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Field. Flight nurses soon were wearing a handsome slack uniform with an Eisenhower type jacket.

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Thousands of nurses distinguished themselves in service during WWII.

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Sixty-seven Army nurses stationed in the Philippines became prisoners of war in May 1942, with the Allied surrender of Corregidor; most remained POW's for three years. Three years later, in 1945, a nurse in Europe would suffer the same fate, by being taken POW by the Germans. Sixteen nurses died overseas as a result of enemy action. The Army decorated approximately 1,400 nurses in WWII.


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