This next story in my weekly series of excerpted stories of veterans from my books is about a young woman who wanted to help sick people but had no funds. The war helped her achieve her dreams of being a nurse.
Stories from females who volunteered to join the military are few among my total of 260 interviews. Each woman is to be admired for volunteering her efforts.
What are your thoughts about these women who served our country from 1941-1945?
Did you know any of them?
Has someone from your family served in the military? If so, share information as you know it.
My blog is dedicated to World War II. Be sure to read the dozens of other stories here.
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Frances Beeler’s short video was just posted on 1/27/22!
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Thanks to all veterans reading this for your service. And thanks to your families as well for their sacrifices!
Frances Kraner Beeler
In 1942, Frances Kraner of Geneva, Indiana, heard an Army recruiter tell about the need for medical staff, especially nurses. The Army would pay for the woman’s education in return for a certain commitment of time in the military.
Beeler had desired a career as a nurse, but knew her family didn’t have money for the training. Beeler seized her opportunity and enlisted in the Army.
Following basic training, Beeler was sent to Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver where she attended nursing classes in the morning and hands-on nursing after lunch.
Beeler learned to give shots and bandage wounds. She also assisted in surgeries. Beeler reveled in every experience. “I had my nose right in the middle of what was happening,” she said.
After a transfer to Beaumont General Hospital at Beaumont, Texas, Beeler was appalled at the serious war wounds that included damage done to frozen limbs on soldiers’ hands and feet. “Living in foxholes for months during the harsh winter had caused loss of circulation in soldiers’ extremities,” she said. Sometimes when redressing a bandage, a dead toe would fly off of a patient’s foot.
Beeler administered many shots, using the same syringe repeatedly, due to the need to conserve. An exciting new drug, penicillin, helped to stop infection.
Some patients at the hospital included German soldiers injured in battle and taken as prisoners of war. When their injuries had healed, they were assigned to clean hospital wards.
Beeler and other members of the medical staff were not allowed to talk to the German POWs who were under the watchful eyes of American guards. At first, Beeler was uncomfortable in their presence. But as the POWs worked hard and didn’t cause disturbances, the staff gradually relaxed. “They took a lot of work away from us to free us to help soldiers,” said Beeler.
On Sundays available medical staff volunteered to help soldiers to chapel services in the hospital. “We called the line of patients in wheelchairs ‘The Tuners Trolley’,” said Beeler.
When friends from home sent roses for her 22nd birthday, she shared them with staff and patients. They, in turn, sang to her which she enjoyed.
Beeler remained at Beaumont until the end of the war. Back home, she married Corwin Beeler, a soldier who had spent four years in the Army as a plane mechanic at a South American air base. They became parents to five children.
“I was glad to have the opportunity to serve my country as a nurse,” she said. “I may not have helped to win the war, but I helped.”