World War II Flight Nurses: “We Were Devoted…We Just Loved Those Fellas”

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Flight Nurse Badge(Photo: Wright Patterson Air Force National Museum)
Flight Nurse Badge(Photo: Wright Patterson Air Force National Museum)

Wright Patterson Air Force Base Wednesday opened an exhibit highlighting the work of Flight Nurses during World War II.

Two veterans of what was then the U.S. Army Air Force who were on hand for the event took a few minutes to describe some of their experiences for WOSU News. 89-year-old Gene Kelly Eisenhower graduated from the air evacuation school at Bowman Field, Kentucky in 1944. She was sent to Memphis Air Base to begin flying with wounded patients who arrived from overseas at various U-S ports.

89-year-old former flight nurse Gene Kelly Eisenhower left the U-S Army Air Force in 1946 and retired 40 years later from the position of head nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Eisenhower achieved the rank of captain as a flight nurse.

93-year-old Charlotte Wiehrdt says captain was the top rank flight nurses could achieve. Wiehrdt served overseas for a year and a half, but one of her closest calls happened shortly after she arrived.

93 year old former flight nurse Charlotte Wiehrdt retired as a 1st Lieutenant. She and her husband Leonard served together in the same theater for about a year and a half. After the war, they had six daughters. He was a test pilot, a classmate of Chuck Yaeger. Charlotte Wiehrdt says she and her husband were glad to be in the military. She adds, they loved all 23 years of it.

The exhibit titled “Winged Angels: U.S. Army Air Forces Flight Nurses in World War II” opened Wednesday at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The exhibit will become a permanent part of Wright Pat’s national museum.

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