And If I Perish

[chaosfilms] is optioning the nonfiction book:

“And If I Perish:  U.S. Army Nurses Corps on the Frontlines”

by Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee

I will go … and if I perish, I perish.

­                   The Book of Esther, 4:16

Band of Brothers. The Pacific. These popular miniseries depicted the stories of the men who sacrificed for their country in Europe and the East. We followed the men of Easy Company  to the frontlines, and they found a place in our hearts and memories. The men came from all walks of life – lawyers, mechanics, doctors and teachers. They were our husbands, brothers and our sons.

There is another narrative that must be told— one that’s known by the participants and few else. It is a story of sacrifice, dedication, commitment, and perseverance. It is the incredible and remarkable account of women in the U.S. Army Nurses Corps.

The nurses of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps endured the same hardships as the troops and would experience all of the dangers of being in combat zones. Days of eating nothing, but C rations or K rations; of bathing out of a helmet. Diving into a foxhole filled with muddy water to escape the shells that rained down on and around them. Working around the clock in deplorable conditions mere miles from the front. Trying to make do with improvised equipment and a shortage of medicine. There was little time to mourn the loss of young boys too wounded to save or a fellow nurse and friend killed by German bombs in the middle of the night.

Strangers in the beginning, the women quickly bonded. Like Easy Company in Band of Brothers, the women heavily relied upon each other, and often put themselves in danger to protect their sisters and colleagues.

These women were our grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and sisters. For over fifty years their stories have been untold. Few if any records were kept by the military, the Veterans Association or any historical society. After the war, women were not allowed to join military organizations such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Many never spoke of their experiences. Nor did anyone ask. There were no parades.   No mention in history books. They have been all, but ignored in radio, television and film.

And If I Perish begins with our involvement in the war and the invasion in North Africa, and extends to the war in the Philippines and beyond.

On November 8, 1942 the first Allied invasion began in North Africa. Landing alongside the forces was the 48th Surgical Hospital including fifty-seven female U.S. Army nurses. This was the first and last time army nurses would land with an invasion force on any other D-Day during the war.

After victory in North Africa, they traveled the same treacherous miles to the conflict in Italy and France, all the way to V-E Day in Germany.

More than 350,00 women volunteered to serve in WW2; over 59,000 were registered nurses who served in the U.S. Army Nurses Corps. Sixteen were killed in action, more than seventy were held as POWs by the Japanese for over three years.

Approximately sixteen hundred received awards and decorations including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart.

After victory in North Africa, they traveled the same treacherous miles to the conflict in Italy and France, all the way to V-E Day in Germany.

Authors Evelyn Monahan and Rosemary Neidel-Greenlee, nurses themselves, undertook a twelve-year mission to uncover and tell the stories of the women of the U.S. Army Nurses Corps and the many lives they saved and the sacrifices they made.   Many of these women are no longer with us. Without the authors tireless work, the nurses who served in WW2– who they were, why they volunteered for the front, what they endured, how much they gave to the cause–were destined to be lost to history.

 

And If I Perish is their story. It is our story.

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