Flight Nurse

[National Archives and Records Administration]

Soon after D-Day, Virginia Russell, from Bear Creek, flew over the English Channel where there were so many sunken ships, it looked like you could walk across it. Russell was a flight nurse on C-47’s that picked up wounded soldiers from the battlefield and flew them to hospitals in England. Her job was to bring a little bit of home to them, she says, but her work was often difficult. One patient from a tank division was burned so badly and covered with so many bandages, there was only a slit in his mouth. Another time, she discovered a German soldier was among the wounded on board, and she struggled with what to do. An American soldier later “straightened her out” by recounting the kindness of a German doctor to his unit. Perhaps one of her most difficult experiences occurred when the cargo plane she was riding in crashed on takeoff. One of the crewmembers didn’t make it in spite of Russell’s efforts to save him. “You had to keep going,” she says.

Virginia Russell, Nurse, 810th Air Evacuation Medical Squadron from Onslow County, NC.

Videos

In this excerpt, hear about a special London “musical” from veteran flight nurse Virginia Russell.