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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project


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Wanda Wills (b. 1918) of Sparta, North Carolina, was a nurse in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) from 1940 to 1946 and 1948 to 1964.


Wanda Wills was born in 1918 in Sparta, North Carolina, the oldest daughter of a tobacco farmer. She attended a one-room schoolhouse and then graduated from Sparta High School in 1935. She then completed the three-year nursing program at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1939. Afterwards, she remained at Sinai and briefly worked in obstetrics.

In March 1940, Wanda Wills was sworn into the Army Nurse Corps (ANC). Her first assignment was at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where she worked in the psychiatric ward. She was transferred in 1943 to McKinney, Texas. There she treated soldiers returning from the South Pacific.

After being accepted for field hospital duty, she was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for overseas training. There she was assigned to the 78th Field Hospital. Christmas Eve, 1943, her unit shipped out for Europe. They landed in Scotland and traveled south to Banbury, Oxforshire, England, where they organized for stationing in Verdun, France. After a few months of preparation, they followed the Third United States Army south to Verdun. Within a period of six months she was stationed in Belgium and Germany. Her unit was stationed in Halberstadt, Germany, for VE Day. There they cared for displaced persons. Her unit was then sent down to Giessen, Germany, to be shipped to the Pacific Theater. The war ended in the Pacific, however, before they were able to ship out, and they were sent to the 100th Dispensary, a SHAEF [Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force] outfit, in Frankfurt, Germany. In 1946, she was discharged from the ANC at Fort Bragg.

Wills stayed a part of the ANC reserves, and received her certificate in public health from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She reenlisted in 1948 and was stationed at Forbes Army Air Force Base in Topeka, Kansas, and later transferred to Savannah, Georgia. She was then sent overseas with the 857th to Milden Hall, England, where she served as chief nurse. When she returned to the U.S., she was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, for two years. There she was the charge nurse of the general ward. After this, she was sent to Ben Guerir Air Base in Morocco. Upon return to the U.S., she was stationed at Castle Air Force Base in Merced, California, where she served as chief nurse. She retired from the ANC in 1964 as a lieutenant colonel. She was awarded a Bronze Star and a commendation medal.

Wills was married in 1959 to a soldier she met at Castle Air Force Base. She helped to raise his three sons. She is a member of the Military Officers Association of America.

Transcript available in repository

Willis recalls service to county," The Allegheny News (Sparta, NC) 11 July 2002; "WWII nurse lived her Florence Nightingale dream," The Clemmons Courier, n.d.