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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 1, 2019 09:27 AM
From: Senator Judy Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Recognize all Pennsylvania Nurses serving during WWII
I plan to introduce a resolution recognizing all Pennsylvania nurses who served with honor and distinction during World War II, especially those who served in Bataan and Corregidor.

As you may know, the week of May 6th through May 12th is set aside each year as a time to celebrate and recognize the nursing profession. While the event formally honors all nurses across this Commonwealth, Pennsylvania nurses who served during World War II as members of the United States Army and Navy Nurse Corps deserve special recognition. World War II saw the service of 59,000 or more American nurses.

On December 8, 1941, the story of these nurses started while stationed in Army and Navy hospitals across the Philippine islands. The nurses provided continuous care for the wounded during an attack, with little sleep and food while enduring bombing by Japanese Zeros. In late December, the nurses were transferred to Bataan due to the Japanese invasion of Manila. In Bataan, the Army nurses established two hospitals. Hospital #1 performed 187 major surgeries in a 24-hour period during a fierce battle and was bombed twice, resulting in numerous causalities. The nurses in Hospital #2, the first open-air ward since the Civil War, endured contaminated water, dwindling supply of food, disease and minimal medical supplies while providing care. Each hospital was built to accommodate 1,000 patients but by the end of March 1942, treated over 5,000 patients with minimal staffing.

In the spring of 1942, the nurses were ordered to the Island of Corregidor for the safety of the Malinta Tunnels, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The tunnels served as an air raid shelter, a warehouse for food and ammunition and housed a hospital set up by the nurses. It is noteworthy that in spite of being ordered to Corregidor, many of the nurses refused to leave their patients, despite knowledge of personal risk that may have occurred. The nurses reluctantly left their patients only under the condition of a direct order to evacuate.

On May 6, 1942, U.S. Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright IV surrendered to the Japanese and the nurses became prisoners of war. A total of 77 Army and Navy nurses where captured and transported to the Santo Tomas Interment Camp in Manila. The nurses created a hospital to care for their incarcerated community and themselves.

The ‘Angels of Bataan’ as they were referred to by the men, or the ‘Battling Belles of Bataan’, survived in captivity for nearly three years without losing a single nurse and were liberated by American forces on February 3, 1945. Several Pennsylvania nurses: Major Adele F. Foreman of Masten, Captain Clara L. Mueller of Philadelphia, First Lieutenant Anna E. Williams of Harrisburg, Commander (honorary) Margaret A. Nash of Wilkes-Barre, and Captain Ann A. Bernatitus of Exeter, along with their fellow nurse comrades, are deserving of praise and honor. The standards the nurses maintained form the foundation of the proud and distinguished profession of nursing. The nurses exceeded what was expected of an officer of the U.S. Army and Navy, served our country bravely and deserve our utmost thanks and respect.

Please join me in recognizing all Pennsylvania nurses who served with honor and distinction during World War II, especially those who served in Bataan and Corregidor, by cosponsoring this measure.

Introduced as SR107