Among the 260 World War II veterans I’ve interviewed, 22 were females. It was always a thrill to discover how these young women volunteered to serve in various military branches.
Eileen Zeissig lives near me and is featured in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. It contains 34 stories of men/women from every branch who served.
Eileen and I are planning a visit soon. She will turn 100 years old next month and may have to wait to have a party, due to Covid. That is such a bummer, but she became accustomed early in life to adjusting to what life threw at her, especially during World War II.
Her picture is also included in my book, Women of WWII Coloring Book. She is so pretty, no matter where she is!
This is an excerpt from her story.
Thanks to all of our veterans for their service.
Doris ‘Eileen’ Stuckey of Berne was on duty at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne in December 7, 1941, when she and other medical staff heard about an attack by the Japanese of the American Naval base of Pearl Harbor. “We had never heard of Pearl Harbor and wondered where it was,” she said.
Stuckey had graduated from Berne High School in 1939. She was uncertain of a career until visiting Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. “Then I knew I wanted to be a nurse,” she said.
After learning about the destruction done to so many American troops Stuckey, like most Americans, wanted to help the war effort. She joined the Army.
As a college graduate, Stuckey was commissioned as a second lieutenant. “I had to buy my own uniforms, which consisted of white one-piece dresses and white shoes,” she said. Outside of work Army nurses wore olive-colored dress uniforms.
Stuckey worked at a military hospital located at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis before being sent to Ashford General Hospital at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
The place had been an elegant resort before the war. Stuckey worked on wounded servicemen in general nursing, paraplegic, and post-op wards.
After being accepted to serve as a nurse overseas, Stuckey left the US by ship in May 1945, landing in Scotland. Germany had just surrendered.
Stuckey worked at a hospital on England’s south coast before being transferred to Reims, France, for three weeks, then across the Alps to Germany. At Bad Mergentheim, a hospital for tuberculosis patients was converted to an evacuation hospital. “We cared for wounded soldiers from the battlefield with first aid and surgeries,” she said.
She was back in Marseilles, France, in August 8, 1945, when Japan surrendered. The date became known as ‘VJ’, or ‘Victory in Japan’ Day.
Her next patients were not injured soldiers but humans much younger, as for nearly a year Stuckey cared for hundreds of French war brides and their babies whose fathers were American servicemen.
In June 1946 Stuckey was discharged at the rank of First Lieutenant. Back in Berne, Stuckey married Werner Zeissig from Fort Wayne who had spent five years in the Army Air Corps. The couple became parents to five children and lived in Decatur, Indiana.
Eileen Zeissig is proud of her military service. “It was a privilege to care for our wounded soldiers,” she said. “I only wish we could have had today’s medical technology. We could have saved an awful lot more lives.”