World War II Army Nurse Cadet: Frances Kraner Beeler

Women played an important part during World War II in the military. Here is a story from an interview I did with Frances Kraner Beeler in 2015. Frances was a sweet lady who was proud to tell me about her service with the Army.

Frances’ story is told in my books

Born To Be Soldiers: Those Plucky Women of World War II

We Defended Freedom: Adventures of World War II Veterans (Book 4, World War II Legacies)

Thanks to all vets for their service.


“As a young woman, Frances Kraner of Geneva, Indiana, desired a career as a nurse. She had grown up caring for sick relatives.

However, the 1941 Geneva High School graduate knew her family didn’t have money for nursing school. She worked in a local factory and a restaurant.

Then, in 1942, Kraner heard that the Army would pay women for nursing school if they would agree to serve a certain amount of time. She enlisted in 1943.

Following basic training, the Army sent Kraner to Fitzsimmons General Hospital in Denver. She and other young cadets attended nursing classes in the morning. After lunch, it was hands-on training. Kraner’s official title during the war was ‘Army Surgical Technician’.

Kraner learned to give shots and bandage wounds. When needed, she assisted at surgeries.

After being transferred to Beaumont General Hospital at Beaumont near El Paso, Texas, Kraner witnessed soldiers with damage done to frozen limbs. “Living in fox holes for months during the harsh winter had caused loss of circulation on fingers and noses,” she said. “The gangrene smelled, but I could stand it.”

Penicillin was a new drug that staunched infection and Kraner administered many shots of it to soldiers, as well as insulin. The needles were huge. “We used syringes over and over because it was during the war and we didn’t throw anything away,” she said.

When not working, Kraner wrote letters for soldiers.

On Sundays the medical staff could skip work detail if they were willing to volunteer to help wheel soldiers to chapel services in the hospital. They adapted a name for the line of patients in wheelchairs going to chapel: ‘Tuners Trolley.’

Kraner remained at Beaumont until the end of the war. She arrived home in December 1945 on a troop train – and promptly fell in love.

During the war, she and a childhood friend, Corwin Beeler, had reconnected. Beeler had spent four years as a plane mechanic at a South American air base.

They married and became parents to five children. Corwin worked as a truck driver for General Electric in Decatur. Frances worked at a local retirement community.

“I was always 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.”

The End  

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