WWII Reunion: Women In Military Medicine
As part of the National World War II Reunion held on Memorial Day weekend on the National Mall in Washington, the Library of Congress Veterans History Project sponsored several programs presenting compelling accounts of WWII history.
Speaker Biography: While living in Staten Island, N.Y., Col. Margaret E. Bailey joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1944 and received orders to report to Ft. Hauchuca, Ariz., as a 2nd Lieutenant. During the war, she cared for soldiers returning from service in Europe. Bailey remained in the service following the war and became the first African American nurse promoted to the rank of Colonel in the Army Nurse Corps. She retired after 27 years of dedicated service. Following her retirement in 1970, she served as a consultant to the Surgeon General of the United States. Currently, she is active in her church, nursing sororities, and the American Nursing Association.
Speaker Biography: In 1939, Anna (Urda) Busby resigned from Hackensack Hospital to join the Army Nurse Corps by way of the American Red Cross. She reported to her first assignment at Fort Jay, Governor’s Island, N.Y., where she underwent basic training. In 1940, Busby was assigned to transport duty in the Panama Canal Zone aboard the USS Chateau Thierry. She traveled a second time to the Panama Canal Zone as one of only two women aboard the USS Hunter Liggett. After serving at Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., Busby headed for Tripler Hospital where she would witness first-hand the “day that will live in infamy.”
Speaker Biography: Marian (Sebring) Elcano, known as “SeaBee” by her comrades, joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1943, trained in Pennsylvania, and received orders to report to Camp Gordon, Ga., as a member of the 45th Evacuation Hospital. In 1943, the unit deployed to the European Theater. They landed in Scotland, and settled in Wooton-under-Edge, England, where nurses were billeted in private homes. On D-Day(+10), Elcano moved into Normandy with the Second Evacuation Hospital. During the horrific Battle of the Bulge, Elcano’s hospital unit sustained intensive bombing at Eupen, Belgium. The semi-mobile hospital unit moved more than 20 times across Northern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes, Germany and Central Europe. Elcano separated from the Army in 1946, married, had five children and nine grandchildren. She currently serves a volunteer nurse in retirement facilities in her community.
Speaker Biography: Born and raised in Bridgeport, Ct., Martha Blackman Leierer served as a U.S. Navy ward nurse aboard the legendary USS Solace hospital ship from November 1943 to January 1945. She received orders to join the hospital staff while she was stationed in procurement at a naval medical facility in Jacksonville, Fla. The staff on board the Solace treated patients from combat zones in the Pacific and evacuated the wounded to Pearl Harbor. Leierer and her husband, Elliot (a World War II U.S. Marine Corps officer), currently reside in Dover, Pa.
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