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1 Pacific Paradise We were young then and we didn't think too much about it. My father told me, "Don't go; there's going to be a war." But when you're young, you just don't think about that. When you have somewhere to go, the thing is to go. Lt. Col. Eunice Young, USAF (Ret.) Through the 1930s and until the last month of 1941, American army nurses waited on a long list of volunteers for assignments to the Philippine Islands. For navy nurses it was the"luck ofthe draw" that brought them to the Pacific paradise, where short duty hours allowed them to spend bright tropical days swimming and playing golf. News from nurses who had completed their two-year tour and returned to the United States resulted in a seemingly endless supply of military nurses hoping to serve in the storybook culture of the tropics. Long years of the Depression in the United States led many young graduate nurses to join the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. Military nursing looked like a good opportunity for those confronting a sparse civilian market that paid nurses on average two dollars a day, if they were fortunate enough to find employment. Nursing duties in civilian hospitals were performed mainly by unpaid student nurses, who, once they were graduated, would find the world ofprivate duty nursing seriously restricted by the ability of individuals to purchase their services. Nursing journals carried 2 All This Hell advertisements for the Army and Navy Nurse Corps.Young women who were adventurous enough to enter the field of nursing, which many parents and others did not consider a ladylike occupation, found it even more daring to enlist in the military nurse corps, which promised comparativelygood salaries, a chance to serve one's country, travel to distant places, and possible contact with cultures few civilian women would ever see. It is more than fair to argue that only the most brave young women joined the Army and Navy Nurse Corps and that only the most adventurous among these volunteered to serve in the Philippines, a group of tropical islands on the other side of the world and only hours away from Japan by air. Even if one believed that war between Japan and the United States was inevitable, there was no knowing when and where such a war might begin. War Plan Orange 3, a strategy to defend the Philippines in the event of war with Japan, was known to a select group in the War Department and to Gen. Douglas MacArthur and his top commanders in the Philippines. No one in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps had ever heard ofWar Plan Orange 3. Given their youth and their spirit of adventure and the strong belief of most young people in their own indestructibility, it is doubtful that the disclosure of the war plan would have influenced these nurses in their willingness to serve in the Philippines. After all, even General MacArthur, who had been recalled to active duty on 26 July 1941 and placed in charge of the Allied Forces Philippine Command , believed that if war broke out between the United States and Japan, it would not be before April 1942. There were signs of uneasiness that military nurses in or on their way to the Philippine Islands might have heeded, but the invincibility felt by the young, combined with the powerful defense of denial, let them pass many warning signs with little notice. Two of these signs involved the Army Nurse Corps directly. On 8 September 1939, a state oflimited emergency was proclaimed as a result ofthe war declared in Europe five days earlier. At the time, 625 regular army nurses were on active duty. The authorized strength of the regulars in the Army Nurse Corps was raised to 949. On 30 Pacific Paradise 3 June 1940, 15,770 nurses enrolled in the First Reserve ofthe American Red Cross Nursing Service and were considered available for active service whenever they were needed. In late winter 1940, the War Department ordered that the dependents of all military personnel in the Philippines be evacuated to the United States. Navy dependents sailed for home in March 1941, followed in May by army dependents. The last ship to carry dependents away from the Philippines was the USS Washington, which sailed on 14 May 1941. The number of ships leaving the United States for the Philippines increased dramatically. Militarypersonnel and supplies, which customarily arrived by ship...


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