Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 19, 2013

Women have served ‘close to combat’


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— This letter is in response to Smokey Shott’s article about women in combat in your paper Tuesday, Jan. 29. He said, “Women played important roles in the military, but were not directly involved in combat, or even close to combat.”

It is the “even close to combat” that I wish to write about. There were 60,000 women who served in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II (Europe and South Pacific). I was one of those women. I served with the 162nd Station Hospital in the South West Pacific theater of war.

 During the 18 months I served in the South West Pacific, I was in three different combat zones. I have three battle stars on my ribbons to prove it and my uniform is in the Those Who Served Museum in Princeton.

During World War II, 16 Army nurses died as a result of enemy action; 67 nurses were taken as prisoners of war (South West Pacific); 1,600 were decorated for bravery under fire as meritorious service. One of our nurses caught a stray bullet in the calf of her leg. We fixed her up like the other patients we took care of and she was back working with us in a matter of hours. I am very proud to have served in the Army Nurse Corps in World War II.

Former 1st Lt. Floriene A. Austin

Mrs. Robert A. Austin Jr.

Bluefield, Va.