JANUARY 31, 1944
WASHINGTON, Sunday—Not long ago, one of the magazines carried an article which told of the way the Air Force was trying to turn the period which its patients had to spend in hospitals from a bleak period of wasted days into one of opportunity for increased education.
At Bowman Field, Ky., near Louisville, I saw the program functioning. From the ceiling of the hospital hang little model planes where each boy, lying on his back, can plainly see them. All the way up and down the ward these little planes dangle—German, Italian, British, Russian and American models. They are rotated from day to day.
A radio man can practice his work right from his bed. When patients are able to walk around, classes are held, both for increasing their knowledge in their specific lines of work and for taking up new subjects. No boy is allowed to grow soft physically while he is in bed. Every part of his body which is not incapacitated is exercised, and when he gets around, he goes into the gymnasium where nothing is lacking for rehabilitation work, even though much of the equipment is made on the post.
The Red Cross does bedside and shop work in handcrafts and the boys have made many bracelets and small gifts for the people at home. The library is used and has current magazines and books on hand. It was quite evident that time did not hang heavy on the hands of any boy who was well enough to have his mind diverted.
The "Flying Nurses" school is at Bowman Field. The students have classes to familiarize them with the proper behavior of a plane. They hike as much as ten miles, and during part of the time they are under fire. Live ammunition is fired over them during part of their training so that they get accustomed to the noise and the sound of shells. They must learn to swim and to jump into the water with their full equipment, which is quite a trick to do properly. They practice loading and unloading a plane with patients, and finally get experience in the air before they take actual patients on flights within the United States.
Over 400 nurses have already been trained and are on duty all over the world. Only one nurse has been lost, but many of them have had exciting experiences and been decorated for bravery. One girl, who was in a crash landing, got all her patients out when the pilot and co-pilot were injured. When they were found several days later, she was taking care of everyone on the beach of a tropical island, even though she was slightly injured herself.
These nurses and many others who serve in our military hospitals will have the right to wear ribbons which denote service in many areas of the war. Their saga will be written in the future and all of us will be proud of their achievements.