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4 The Other Alamo Those nurses ofBataan and Corregidor, what can possibly be said worthy ofthem? Col. Carlos P. Romulo, aide-de-camp to General MacArthur One late afternoon during the hottest December in the history of Bataan, twelve Pambusco buses discharged their passengers and the nurses and medical personnel got their first look at the Limay beach area. The compound consisted of twenty one-story wooden barracks with palm-thatched roofs and open, glass-free windows with lightweight palm closings that could be raised or lowered like shades. One corrugated tin warehouse stood in contrast to the long, narrow, framed barracks. These buildings, deserted and virtually empty, had once served as Camp Limay, a training facility for Filipino Scouts. The nurses claimed one of these barracks for their quarters. It was divided into small rooms with four or five beds scattered through them. "Oh, no!" one of the twenty-five nurses said in an exhausted voice. "Does this mean we sleep on the floor?" One of the medics whose bus had arrived earlier at the compound motioned toward the warehouse. "There are beds and linen in there." An army truck pulled up in front of the nurses' barracks and stopped. "The Quartermaster thought you might be able to use these;' a young corporal said as he dropped two large boxes inside The Other Alamo 39 the door. The nurses set upon the cartons like bees on honeysuckle. Lieutenant Brantley led the swarm. "Army Air Corps coveralls. All size forty-two," she said. "Remember the belts were stretched across the back from side to side. And the front is best described by the modern day adage of'hang loose'! Letha McHale got lost and wasn't seen for quite a while when she tried on a pair. On Rosemary Hogan, they looked tailor-made, a perfect fit. And the rest of us were somewhere in between. We hung loose!"l Attired in their new army field uniforms, the nurses headed for the warehouse where the medic had indicated they would find cots and bedding. It was there, but headboards, footboards, and joining bars were piled in separate stacks, and it took many trips between the warehouse and the barracks before each nurse had an assembled cot to sleep on that night. After a quick supper of field pancakes, the nurses gathered on the beach and looked across Manila Bay. The sky was bright with fingers offire reaching high into the night. The military at the Cavite Naval Base were exploding ammunition dumps and setting fire to fuel so they would not fall into enemy hands. The nurses wondered what was happening at the Army-Navy Club, the Manila Hotel, and other familiar spots. "We also wondered what was happening to us," Hattie Brantley said. She spoke in a pleasant East Texas accent. "But let me say quickly that the main theme then, there and forever after was 'Help is on the way!'We evidenced faith, hope, and trust in God, in General MacArthur, in ED.R. and in the U.S.A. In fact, anytime anyone looked in the direction ofthe bay and did not see a convoy steaming in, it was with disbeliefl And with the certainty that this convoy would arrive at least by tomorrow."2 At sunup on Christmas Day, the nurses, doctors, medics, and all available hands went into the warehouse and dug out the gear for the hospitaL They were shocked to discover how old the equipment that was to serve the casualties ofa newwar appeared. "There were old iron cots, rusty and dirty, and I'll swear they were packed in 1918 newspapers," Hattie Brantley said. 40 All This Hell Only later did nurses and medical personnel learn about War Plan Orange 3. "This War Plan Orange-3 which we knew nothing about other than the fact that it was now activated, had been talked about and planned in all departments except the medical department ,,, Brantley said. "There were surgical instruments packed in Cosmolene. They wasted an awful lot ofgood ether, cleaning those instruments, getting the Cosmolene off so that they could be used in surgery."3 Bataan was fast becoming a site ofpreparations and action. On 26 December 1941, Colonel Duckworth, known affectionately as "the Duck;' sent a request to 2d Lt. Frances 1. Nash to report to him at Hospital No. I. Nash was on her way to join nineteen other nurses and a medical team to set up Field Hospital No...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780813127446
Related ISBN
9780813121482
MARC Record
OCLC
778436177
Pages
264
Launched on MUSE
2012-02-08
Language
English
Open Access
No
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