This week I acquired a packet of photos and papers some soldier in the 142nd General Hospital had accumulated while serving in that outfit.

This week I acquired a packet of photos and papers some soldier in the 142nd General Hospital had accumulated while serving in that outfit. [1] My guess is that his name is one of the 47 on the paper shown here. [2] His stripes indicated he reached the rank of Technical Sergeant by war’s end in August 1945. [3] The unit was activated at Ft.Riley, Kansas in 1941 with 450 members and sent to the South Pacific in 1942 ---eventually serving in New Zealand, Lautoka, Sambeto and Suva in the Fiji Islands as the 112th Station hospital. In preparation for the invasion of mainland Japan, they were reconstituted in Calcutta, India as the 2000-bed 142nd General Hospital.[4]

In 1941 in the ramp up to WWII there were only 1000 nurses in the Army Nurse Corps. They were an all-volunteer corps ages 22-30, graduates of American schools and all were commissioned officers. [Notice in photo [6] nurses stand beside doctors in formation]. No draft was ever needed and by the end of the war 54,000 nurses had served in the army and 11,000 in the navy. A much larger number of male medics served as practical nurses handling routine care under the direction of nurse officers. Of the 670,000 wounded soldiers and sailors who made it to a field hospital staffed by nurses and doctors, 96% survived.

The departure of civilian nurses going into the service left civilian hospitals back in the States severely short-handed. Volunteer Red Cross ‘gray ladies’ filled that void during the war and post-war provided the nucleus of the newly-created position of Licensed Practical Nurse. [My grandmother became one of the first LPN’s in Oklahoma then.]

If you seen M*A*S*H ,you know the work of the 142nd except they had C-47 transport planes rather than helicopters for med-evac. The shower [5] was formed by leaving barrels of water exposed all day in the sun creating warm showers identical to one I used every night when working on a farm 1951-2. [They left mud between your toes.]

Photos 6-14 are self-explanatory. These pictures are 75 years old, and folks in them are gone now, but if you recognize any of them, tell them I have some precious mementos for them.