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The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project

Oral history interview with Hazel Meeks Jones, 2002

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Object ID: WV0244.5.001

Description: Primarily documents Hazel Meeks Jones’ service in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) stateside and abroad, from 1942 to 1965.

Summary:

Jones briefly describes her large family and their sharecropping in rural Georgia; her her time in nursing school, focusing on social activities and segregation; and her memory of Pearl Harbor Day. She also discusses joining the ANC; her experiences in basic training; work in surgery; and life at the station hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Discussion of her time stationed in India includes: lack of casualties received; restrictions of the base; entertaining soldiers; monsoons; and VE and VJ Days.

Post-WWII and Korean War-era topics include: her assignment as a reservist in Georgia; Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat (EENT) nursing; joining the regular army; the increase in patients during the Korean War; being stationed in Hawaii; and meeting her husband. Jones also discusses treating Dwight D. Eisenhower at Walter Reed Army Hospital; working on the neurosurgical ward in Germany; night supervisor and recovery room/ICU nursing at Womack hospital in Fayetteville; and changes in uniforms over her time in the service.

Personal topics include: life during the Depression; Jones' seven siblings in the service; explanation of service-time personal photos; and opinion on women in contemporary military service.

Creator: Hazel Moore Meeks Jones

Biographical Info: Hazel Meeks Jones (1918-2005) of Taliaferro County, Georgia, served in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) from 1942 to 1965.

Collection: Hazel Jones Papers

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Jackson Library, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Full Text:

EE:

My name is Eric Elliot and I'm with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is an interview for the Women Veterans Historical Project at the university. Today is January 30, in the year 2002. I'm in beautiful Fayetteville this afternoon, at the home of Hazel Jones.

Ms. Jones, I want to thank you for letting me come into you home and talk with you a little bit about your time in the Army Nurse Corps, and then again in the WAC [Women's Army Corps] as you continued your career in the service. I want to start with you with the same simple question I ask just about everybody, and that is, where were you born, where did you grow up?

HJ:

I was born in Georgia, Taliaferro County, near Crawfordville.

EE:

So y'all were out on a farm?

HJ:

Yes, yes. I grew up in a large family. I had nine brothers and three sisters—two sisters—making a total of twelve.

EE:

Well, now, where are you in that range? Are you in the middle?

HJ:

I'm the oldest.

EE:

Oh, okay. Well, there's pride of place, then. So had it been a family farm for a long time?

HJ:

No, not necessarily. My dad was a sharecropper, as they were called back then.

EE:

This would have been in the twenties?

HJ:

I was born in 1918, so it would have—

EE:

While you were growing up in the twenties, being a sharecropper, you probably would have been twelve when the Depression hit. Do you remember how that affected your household?

HJ:

Oh yes, I remember it very well. Those were hard years for us, but with the big farm we grew everything that we needed, so we were certainly never hungry. There were things that we would have liked to have had, but we had plenty of food. And my mother was a great cook.

EE:

That's great. I don't know, North Carolina about that time, the high schools, you graduated high school, you were sixteen. I don't know, how many years did it take you to graduate in Georgia?

HJ:

I was probably sixteen.

EE:

So you graduated in '34?

HJ:

Probably. I don't know, exactly.

EE:

Where did you go to high school?

HJ:

I went to high school in Crawfordville, Georgia.

EE:

Did you have a favorite subject when you were growing up?

HJ:

I liked history.

EE:

You liked history. Had you ever thought about being a teacher, or did you know from the beginning you wanted to be a nurse?

HJ:

I decided when one of my brothers was in the hospital and I stayed with him at night. I decided then that's what I wanted to do.

EE:

How old were you and he when this happened?

HJ:

Oh, he was about four, and I was probably eleven or twelve.

EE:

Everything turn out all right?

HJ:

Yes, yes.

EE:

Good. Family of twelve and times are tough. Did you go right into nursing school right out of high school?

HJ:

Yes, I did.

EE:

Did you get some financial help, or had to work to do it?

HJ:

No, well, we did get some help from some friends. We didn't get a loan or anything like that. Some friends helped. And back in those days it didn't take a lot of money. In fact, I'm sure my dad didn't pay any tuition. At least I don't know about it.

EE:

Where did you get your nurse's training?

HJ:

At the University of Georgia at Augusta. University Hospital in Augusta.

EE:

Now, was that a three-year program?

HJ:

Three years.

EE:

Was it three years? How long did it take you to finish your training?

HJ:

Three years.

EE:

And you lived in a dormitory there on campus?

HJ:

Yes, we lived in a dormitory. And that was back when we went to school with the black nurses, but they—

EE:

So they were housed in a different area, but you went to classes with them?

HJ:

We went to classes with them.

EE:

But now at that time, blacks probably were treated on one ward and whites on another.

HJ:

Right.

EE:

Okay. But you did share classrooms with them.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

Was that the first time you'd been to school with blacks?

HJ:

No, no. Well, maybe it was. I never really thought about that. But I remember it used to bother me a little bit in the nursing school, because they sat in the back of the room and we left the room first. And, of course, that seems strange to me now, but that's the way it was then.

[Tape recorder paused]

EE:

I guess nursing school for everybody, you're taking classes and you're working a shift same time, aren't you?

HJ:

Yes, yes, we did.

EE:

You would have finished nurse's school—well, I'm curious. That's a program you're at, University Hospital, but it's not for university degree; it's a three-year degree. Did you socialize with other college students there, or did you have time to even do that?

HJ:

There wasn't much time for socializing. I dated a few medical students. We had friends that lived near, the ones that used to buy little extra things for me.

EE:

So how far is the University Hospital from back home in Crawfordville?

HJ:

It's probably sixty miles.

EE:

So your folks didn't get up to see you very often, did they?

HJ:

No, no. Well, they weren't allowed to come for the first three months. We were on probation.

EE:

Was nursing school what you thought it was going to be? Was it harder? Easier?

HJ:

It was harder. It was harder, yes.

EE:

What was the hardest part of nursing school? It surely wasn't living with other people, because you'd grown up with twelve.

HJ:

No, it wasn't that. I had more people to miss than most people, and being away from home was very hard in the beginning. But then, of course, got busy and got over that. And then our friends would come and take me to their house once in a while, so that helped.

EE:

You must have graduated in '37. What kind of work did you do when you got out?

HJ:

I worked for a tuberculosis sanitarium in Alto, Georgia, until I went in the army.

EE:

Was that sort of like the main sanitarium for Georgia, like Black Mountain was for here in North Carolina?

HJ:

Tuberculosis is what we had, well, totally.

EE:

Yes, it was that prevalent then.

HJ:

Right.

EE:

Were you working at there all the way up until the time the war started?

HJ:

Yes, yes, I was.

EE:

Were you on duty the day Pearl Harbor happened? Do you remember Pearl Harbor day? What were you doing?

HJ:

Oh yes. I was taking my state board.

EE:

Which is nerve-wracking enough.

HJ:

Yes. I was taking my state board. I was a little bit late taking state board because I was in the hospital for a few days. So I had to go to Atlanta to take the boards because I didn't take it along with the rest of the class. So I was in Atlanta with an aunt when Pearl Harbor happened.

EE:

How did things change for you after that day?

HJ:

Well, I felt like I should join, and I did.

EE:

Did any of the other family members join the service?

HJ:

Yes. At one time, we had seven of us in the military. And everybody came home safely. One brother had an injured arm, a broken arm, but—

EE:

Still, that's a blessing that everybody got through all right.

HJ:

Yes, it was a blessing. Let's see. There was three in the army, two in the navy, and three, five—

EE:

You would have made six, and who else was there?

HJ:

One in the air force. Does that make seven?

EE:

That's seven. So your mom and dad might have had two flags out front. That's a lot of stars to put on one flag.

HJ:

Yes, it was a lot. I often think how hard it must have been for them to have that many people to worry about.

EE:

Did some of them volunteer right away in '42, like you?

HJ:

Yes. My oldest brother went in through, it was called CCC [Civilian Conservation Corps] camp then. And from there on, they just volunteered as they got older.

EE:

How was it that—did they come to you at the sanitarium and say, “We need people to sign up,” or did you just start seeing advertisements that the army needs nurses? How did you put that together?

HJ:

I've often wondered what—I wasn't real happy at the sanitarium, and I guess I just thought I would rather join the military.

EE:

Did you have any other friends who had already joined?

HJ:

No. See, Alto was kind of an isolated place, so I didn't have any friends up there that had joined.

EE:

That's probably a part of factoring in to why you were ready to make a change. You didn't have anybody you were connected with. What time of year did you join? Was it early in that spring in '42, or later on in the year?

HJ:

I'm trying to think now. When I went to Fort Rucker, [Alabama], I believe it was spring. I remember a hat that I wore. It was dumb to think about wearing a hat on the train to join the army, but anyway.

EE:

Well, I don't know. How crowded was that train? Because if it was pretty crowded, a hat might get knocked off or picked off.

HJ:

I believe it was the spring.

EE:

Had you ever traveled much outside the state before this time?

HJ:

No, not very much.

EE:

So this was an adventure in many ways for you, wasn't it?

HJ:

Yes, it was.

EE:

When you signed up, I guess it was like most folks, it was for the duration, whatever that would be, plus six months. I assume in your training you had had exposure to lots of different kinds of nursing, they kind of walk you through the different things, but you had been working at a place, I would guess, certainly less stressful than surgical nursing.

HJ:

Well, I was in charge of the operating room there.

EE:

At this—Okay, so you went immediately—at sanitarium you were doing surgical nursing?

HJ:

Right.

EE:

That takes a distinctive temperament. How did you discover that you had that in you?

HJ:

I really don't know, but I just got involved with surgery and I liked it.

EE:

You're very appreciative of the skills involved in making an operation successful when you're doing that. So when you joined, were you joining to continue doing work as a surgical nurse? Were they hiring you and saying, “Wherever we put you, we're going to put you in that specialty,” or did you know?

HJ:

I didn't know.

EE:

You were basically making yourself available for whatever they needed at that time. You went to Rucker, and how long was basic for you at Rucker?

HJ:

It wasn't more than four months. It wasn't a long training. I don't remember, exactly. Maybe not that long, maybe about three months.

EE:

What kind of things did they—Nursing's different because you've already got professional training, you're going to be using that, so what are they teaching you at basic in '42? Just military protocol, that kind of thing?

HJ:

Yes. [unclear]

EE:

Were most of your instructors there men or women?

HJ:

Men. As a matter of fact, I think they were all men.

EE:

But basic itself didn't give you any trouble, or did it?

HJ:

No.

EE:

Okay, so. And then you were assigned, as it turned out, back to Georgia, to Station Hospital, which wasn't too far from home, where you stayed for a year and a half. Tell me about the kind of work that you did there.

HJ:

We had a lot of amputees. I worked in the—I was a scrub nurse in the operating room there.

EE:

I heard from somebody, I don't know if it was about this facility or another one, maybe I think there's a rehab facility in Memphis at this time, too, where there were so many amputees that you basically have a whole ward of left leg or right leg. That has to be numbing just in the volume.

HJ:

Yes, it was.

EE:

How did you all deal with—What were your stress-breakers in those days?

HJ:

I'm not sure I can give you a good answer to that. We just realized that there was a job that had to be done, so we just did it.

EE:

What kind of hours are you working when you're in Atlanta? Is it a seven-day week, five-day week? What's the schedule like, do you remember?

HJ:

We supposedly worked eight-hour shifts, but we rarely ever was off duty at the end of the eight hours. We put in a lot of overtime.

EE:

Did you ask to be transferred out, or when did you get the word that you were going to be heading out to overseas?

HJ:

The chief nurse called me in and said that we were going to the Orient.

EE:

So the whole unit was going, transporting?

HJ:

Yes, there were several from [unclear]

EE:

This is Kalaikunda where you went, near Calcutta. Is that a field hospital, an evac[uation] hospital?

HJ:

It was a field hospital. It was a small field hospital.

EE:

So where were most of your casualties coming from?

HJ:

We didn't. We didn't get casualties. See, we were sitting there in case things changed and we got involved with Japan or China. We really didn't have any casualties coming there.

EE:

So basically it was insurance in case the front changed to the east side, you were far enough away that—

HJ:

There was one P-51 wing that we were responsible for taking care of medically.

EE:

What was the name of your unit? Do you remember the number?

HJ:

[Unclear] I want to say 372nd, but I'm not absolutely sure of that. Somewhere in my records, of course, I have it, but I'm not sure.

EE:

Did y'all have a nickname for your group?

HJ:

No, we didn't. It was not a tour that I would like to go over again, because we were limited as to what we could do. We couldn't drink the water there off-base, we didn't eat off-post, so we didn't get to see much of the surrounding territories. I didn't have a camera, either. So to tell you the truth, we sort of entertained the P-51 flyboys, but it was—that was necessary, I guess.

EE:

So you just had dances down at the club. Did you have an Officers' Club, I guess, there?

HJ:

Yes, we had a small club. It was fun in some ways, but it rained. When it rained there, it just poured down in buckets. It just seemed to last forever. Called the monsoons, of course.

EE:

So it was one of those places, it sounds like, where you were getting homesick pretty quick over there. And you went over there, I guess it would have been '43, we were figuring up, and stayed to the—probably the end of '43, and stayed to the end of the war, about a year and a half.

HJ:

Right, '45.

EE:

Do you remember—Because you've had a long career, I want just to ask you a couple more questions about your World War II experiences over there, because that's the first time, I guess, volume-wise—army nurses had been around forty years before you went in, and yet the volume, certainly, of women personnel, whether they're medical or otherwise, working in close concert with the men's service is certainly a lot larger than it had ever been before. Were your experiences all pretty professional? Did folks treat you well when you were over there?

HJ:

Oh yes, yes, they did.

EE:

And you never had any trouble, or did you, off base, whether it's stateside or overseas, by being a woman in uniform?

HJ:

No, no. In Germany, there were areas in Germany where the Americans were not too welcome. I can remember we got to be friends with a German couple. In fact, he managed the PX [post exchange] there, and they wanted to go to—I'm trying to think of the name of the town there—wanted to go there to visit his brother. And they didn't have a car, so we drove them there, and we had to park the automobile in a barn so it wouldn't be seen on the street.

EE:

So they didn't want to be associated with Americans, is what it amounted to.

HJ:

Well, that particular family, but it was the people that lived in the areas around there that they were concerned about.

EE:

You remember getting the word in India when President [Franklin D.] Roosevelt passed away?

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

What was that like?

HJ:

We were aboard ship on our way there when he died. It was as though the ship just stopped dead in the water. It was a strange feeling.

EE:

It was only a month or so before the war ended in Europe. And, of course, the war ended so quickly in Japan, everybody assumed there'd be an invasion, nobody knew about the bomb. Do you remember anything about VE [Victory in Europe] or VJ [Victory in Japan] Day?

HJ:

No.

EE:

It probably was raining.

HJ:

It probably was raining. I remember how I got the word that the war was over. I was on night duty and several of the people came in, the personnel came in to wake me, dragged me out from under my little stevenette, and we went to the club and had a glass of scotch. I don't even remember what time of day it was.

EE:

Well, if you were—I wonder how scotch mixes with Atabrine. Were you taking that for the mosquitoes, all that stuff?

HJ:

Oh yes, we had to take—was that what it was called? I don't remember now.

EE:

That's the yellow fever medicine, I guess it was. Did you have any problem with jungle rot where you were? It was probably hot and dry enough, probably all right.

HJ:

It was dry enough, I guess.

EE:

You could have probably gotten out of the service after the war. What made you stay in the service?

HJ:

I enjoyed it. I never had an assignment that I didn't enjoy.

EE:

So the work itself was good work for you?

HJ:

Oh yes. I enjoyed it.

EE:

You were still doing surgical nursing?

HJ:

Most of the time.

EE:

What were you doing when you weren't doing surgical nursing?

HJ:

Outpatient clinic.

EE:

This is what you were doing in—You went to Oliver General [Hospital] after the war. Is that associated with a base in Augusta?

HJ:

Fort Stewart. Wait a minute. I know the name of the hospital there is Eisenhower General Hospital. It was not there at this time, but that's what it is now.

EE:

Okay, I'll take a look, because it's probably had a change. I don't know if Rucker is still in Alabama. I'm not sure if it's still there.

HJ:

I'm not, either. I don't even know if it's still active.

EE:

I talked to a woman who ran the service club down there for the enlisted types, and apparently during the war it had a lot folks going through there. You were at Augusta for three or four years.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

Is this where you started learning about EENT [Eye, Ear, Nose, and Throat]?

HJ:

Yes. That's where I worked with the doctor that wanted me to change to regular army.

EE:

Do you remember his name?

HJ:

No.

EE:

We were talking before we started the tape, what was the reasoning for changing to regular army?

HJ:

I don't know. He just thought it would be better for me. I cannot think of his name.

EE:

Better in terms of career opportunities, advancement?

HJ:

I think so. Maybe it'll come to me in a minute.

EE:

So you were sitting in on EENT surgeries starting in Augusta, and learning whatever additional procedures to go with it?

HJ:

No, I did mostly outpatient work.

EE:

With EENT.

HJ:

Yes. And the same thing is true in Honolulu. I did ENT and eye there.

EE:

And that's where you went after you went from Oliver General, you went to Tripler [Hospital] in Honolulu.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

When you were there, were you doing outpatient or were you doing surgical nursing with ENT?

HJ:

Outpatient, primarily.

EE:

When you start out, I guess you're a first lieutenant.

HJ:

Second lieutenant.

EE:

Second lieutenant. And then when did you make first lieutenant?

HJ:

I don't know.

EE:

Before the war's end? Probably. You'd had three years in the war, I would have guessed.

HJ:

Well, we didn't get promoted quite as fast as they do nowadays. It took longer.

EE:

So you had to wait for an all—everybody goes up at once, basically, after you've been in a certain amount of time.

India, back to Georgia, so you're seeing relatives, I guess, when you're in Georgia again. You had a chance to see family more.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

Then you go out to Honolulu and you're there for four years.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

While you're out there, Korean War starts. Do you remember that, how it effected a change? Because I imagine Honolulu probably saw a lot of activity during the war.

HJ:

Yes, we did. The patient load increased a great deal, I remember that.

EE:

Was there ever a thought of you going to be a combat nurse, or to do [unclear] closer?

HJ:

No, no.

EE:

Were you ever given that opportunity, or you just decided you didn't care to pursue that?

HJ:

I sort of just accepted my assignments as they came. I didn't go to the chief nurse and ask for a particular assignment. I don't remember ever doing that. I guess I thought I'd just take my chances, and it worked out very well.

EE:

Yes, it sure did. You had a great career. I guess your immediate—you always had a chief nurse wherever you were. Did you ever become a chief nurse yourself in any of these places?

HJ:

No, no, I didn't. I really didn't enjoy the administrative side of nursing nearly as much as I enjoyed patient care.

EE:

You're probably not unique in that. Now, I would be remiss in not mentioning for the record that not only did you learn extra skills at Tripler, but you also found your future husband. Tell me about how you two met. The clean version, anyway. [laughs]

HJ:

He says we met on the beach at Waikiki.

EE:

That sounds romantic.

HJ:

That's almost true. We actually met at a baseball game. We were just sitting with the group.

EE:

So you were both there as spectators, not as players, then.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

Was this a military game?

HJ:

Yes, it was.

EE:

So you had never met him before. Did he work in the same hospital as you?

HJ:

We worked in the same hospital.

EE:

And he was in supply.

HJ:

He was in medical supply.

EE:

So I imagine he got his route changed. [laughs]

HJ:

He was enlisted, so that was a little bit of a problem.

EE:

Yes, that “no fraternization” rule comes in.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

So how did you get around it?

HJ:

We just didn't flaunt it in front of the chief nurse. And she liked him very much because he took care of all of her needs as far as the supplies went. So that worked out well. We really never had any trouble.

EE:

Well, now, how long did y'all date before you decided—you got married right as you left?

HJ:

We got married at Walter Reed [Army Medical Center]. I came home first. I came home in March.

EE:

March of '52.

HJ:

Yes. And he came home in August, and we got married in August. We got married in Georgia, the same church that my mom and dad were married in.

EE:

Oh, that's great. How long had y'all been seeing each other? A year or so?

HJ:

Probably a year.

EE:

Great. And then you both got assigned to Walter Reed outside [Washington] D.C. Were you continuing to do EENT work at Walter Reed, or did you go back to neurosurgery?

HJ:

No, no, I did ENT there. Primarily eye, really, at Walter Reed.

EE:

They probably had a volume such that you could do just that.

HJ:

I was nurse in charge of the eye clinic there. I remember [Dwight D.] Eisenhower coming through and he had a problem, an old lingering problem with his eyes, and I remember putting drops in his eyes and how nervous I was. [laughs]

EE:

Oh, my goodness.

HJ:

He had pretty brown eyes.

EE:

I assume you have to salute and then reach for the medicine. How does this work? Kind of put an awkward, “Sir, yes, sir.”

HJ:

We kind of left that off. [both laugh]

EE:

Well, now, was this when he was—he would have been elected president. Was this when he was president that he came to see you? Just before?

HJ:

No, he wasn't president.

EE:

Okay, he went in the fall of that year, so he was just a candidate.

HJ:

Right.

EE:

But I assume he had an entourage with him when he comes in the room.

HJ:

Oh yes. But he was a very nice man. He never—

EE:

How big of a fellow was he?

HJ:

He was tall. He was kind of average, I guess. Probably weighed 175-180 pounds.

EE:

Was that one of those times you wish you had a camera when you were at work that day?

HJ:

Oh, he came several times, because he had this old sort of a lingering iritis[?]. I think that's it. I don't want to make a statement that's not true.

EE:

But he did have lingering problems with his eyes that he came back to get checked on regularly?

HJ:

Yes. And Colonel [John Henry] King was one of the—he was the officer in charge, or the doctor in charge of the clinic—and he was well known throughout the army. So he came [unclear] checked.

EE:

This has to be one of the most famous celebrities you had a chance to run into. Have you ever run into any more? You've had a long career in the service. Did you see any other famous folks along the way?

HJ:

Not too many. Of course, we took care of so many wives of the well known, but I don't remember their names.

EE:

Right, right. You—I guess when you all were there, you lived on base in [unclear] base housing? Was there on-base housing for Walter Reed? Walter Reed is kind of urban, so I'm not sure everybody lives off—

HJ:

No, we had to rent an apartment.

EE:

I know that was difficult right after the war, finding a spot. Was it still tough in '52?

HJ:

Yes, it was, but we found an apartment that was near the hospital, so it was convenient.

EE:

Right. You were there for four years, and then you went to Fort Knox, [Kentucky], for two or so, to Ireland General Hospital, I guess, where you were again doing EENT outpatient work.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

And Bob continued to—did he get transferred there, as well?

HJ:

Yes, he worked at the, what was that called? It was just down the hill there. But he continued to work in supply, but then he got involved in computers and he was a computer programmer part of that time that he was there.

EE:

That's probably when the computer filled up a whole room.

HJ:

And had to be kept cold and cool.

EE:

Cold and clean. So that would have been in the mid- to late fifties, I guess, '56 to '58, somewhere in there.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

Okay. And then y'all got the chance to go to Germany as part of your next tour. You were telling me that you switched there. You were working in a neurosurgical center. For somebody who's not been inside of a surgical facility, that seems like a big jump.

HJ:

Well, it was the ward. I was not in the operating room. I was the nurse in charge of the neurosurgical ward where we had patients with head injuries.

EE:

And I guess, now that I think about it, if you're thinking of slings and ways to stabilize a patient from moving their head around, they're probably very similar in the types of surgeries what you had because you were dealing with head surgery before.

HJ:

We had a lot of patients that were on frames that had to be—I hope they have better ways to turn them than we did back in those days. I think it's called an [unclear] frame.

EE:

How did you like that kind of work? Was it better for you?

HJ:

Well, I liked it. It was different from what I had been doing. But I had a German—the chief[?] [Dr. Kempe] and he was so nice and I learned to like him very much.

EE:

This was at Einsiedlerhof?

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

The Second General Hospital there.

HJ:

Kaiserslautern is the larger town that's near there, and Einsiedlerhof was where the medical depot was that Bob was stationed.

EE:

Okay. So was Second General at Kaiserslautern?

HJ:

Well, it was near.

EE:

Okay, outside.

HJ:

Yes. We lived at Kaiserslautern.

EE:

So the staff was German and American?

HJ:

Primarily American. We lived with a German family for about six or eight months after we got there. We lived upstairs and they were downstairs.

EE:

Well now, did you take German while you were over there? I imagine you had to have a little to get around, didn't you?

HJ:

No. Well, I learned how to count change and a little bit of German, but not very much. Because they managed to speak—the two little girls that were in the family, they could speak English fairly well. At that time we had two dachshunds, so they took care of the dogs, the dachshunds, while I worked.

EE:

How did you find out about these—Was this a family that had been taking care of, had been taking service families in before?

HJ:

Yes, you know I've thought about that, and I just don't remember how we happened to end up at the Kleins' house, but it was—it really was not—We enjoyed it.

EE:

I know a lot of folks after the war over there were so desperate for money; they were doing a lot of things like having folks come in, living in their homes.

HJ:

Yes. We were upstairs. We didn't have a refrigerator. I remember the Army coming along and telling them they'd have to buy a refrigerator. We were keeping our milk warm by putting it in the window.

EE:

That's not good long-term, is it? [laughs] You were in a hospital long enough to know that's not going to get you healthy.

HJ:

No, but they bought a little—

EE:

This is his picture?

HJ:

Yes. That's his picture.

EE:

Looks like his name is Kempe.

HJ:

Colonel Kempe. He used to say, when we would have, when they'd call everybody out to—Bob, what did they call that little exercise we used to have to do when everybody was called out?

EE:

I think he's taking a nap.

HJ:

I think he is, too. But he was alert, and he would refer to it as alarm. He said we had an alarm.

EE:

That's a good picture. Was that a Stars and Stripes photo?

HJ:

I don't remember.

EE:

Tell me about this uniform. You were in there long enough to see some probably pretty good changes in uniforms over time.

HJ:

Yes. Well, of course, white—I never wore fatigues like they wear now. I got out before that.

EE:

So when you were in Georgia and in India, you were still wearing white?

HJ:

In India we had to wear pants, fatigues, and boots tucked in because of the mosquitoes.

EE:

And this is a picture when you first joined?

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

That's sharp. What is this insignia for here? Is this the 10th? It looks like an X on the side.

HJ:

I don't know what that is.

EE:

I assume the regulations were the same for you all, that you had to have your hair off the shoulders.

HJ:

Yes.

EE:

You were in Germany for just couple of years, is that right?

HJ:

No, we were there longer than two years. Maybe three and a half, probably.

EE:

So you came back—between '58 and '61. You came back in '61 to Womack [Army Hospital], here in Fayetteville.

HJ:

Yes. Right. We bought this house in '61.

EE:

And you were doing neurosurgery again here, or back to ENT? What kind of work were you doing?

HJ:

No, I came back here as the evening supervisor in the emergency room. I was there for about six months and they moved me to recovery and intensive care, and I stayed there until I retired.

EE:

I know, having watched ER for about ten years, evening supervisor could be entertaining at times.

HJ:

Back in those days, though, we didn't have as much help as they have now. So evening supervisor, it wasn't as much supervising done. You just worked.

EE:

And then you did that work and retired in '65 from the service and then stayed here. Did Bob retire about the same time?

HJ:

He retired before I did. He retired in '63, and I retired in '65. He went in the army before I did.

EE:

If a young woman came to you today and said, “I'm thinking about joining the service,” what would your advice be to her?

HJ:

I would encourage her to do so, although there have been so many changes, but I still think it's—

[End Tape 1, Side A—Begin Tape 1, Side B]

EE:

Right. They wouldn't allow you to be pregnant because you'd immediately be discharged.

HJ:

Right.

EE:

But now they've got to provide daycare for you while you're overseas.

You're all of three blocks from the base. I was seeing, as I turned into the street, folks getting out, backpacks at the ready, on some kind of patrol around the perimeter. There have been a lot of changes. What have been the good changes and, in your opinion, the not-so-good changes for women in the service?

HJ:

Well, I'm afraid I'm a little prejudiced. I'm not sure I would enjoy the army as much today as I did when I was in it. And I'm not sure I can tell you why, but it just—

EE:

Some people have told me that when the WAC merged in '75, '76, that “losing your femininity” a bit hurt the experience of “being a woman,” in the sense that they tried to make it too gender-neutral. Is that something you agree with?

HJ:

Well, I never really thought about it. I worked with WACs.

EE:

And you actually became—you switched—you did follow your friend's advice at some point and you switched from ANC to regular Army.

HJ:

But it was still Army Nurse Corps. I never changed that.

EE:

So you added additional—How did that work? You were both ANC and WAC at the retirement?

HJ:

No, I was never WAC.

EE:

Okay, you were telling me that you did something to your status that affected your—What was it that changed for you?

HJ:

Nothing. I didn't notice any change. And I told you earlier that I really don't know why he wanted me to change to regular army. He just thought it would be better for me.

EE:

So you never actually did change to regular army, then.

HJ:

Yes, I did.

EE:

I'm just trying to understand the distinction, because the names change a lot during this time that you're in. So you start out as Army Nurse Corps, you stay Army Nurse Corps throughout, but what does it mean, regular army? What were you before you were regular army? What were you called?

HJ:

Reserve, wasn't it? I never really thought about—

EE:

Okay. So probably when you were coming in, you're were working in Georgia after the war, you were probably ANC reserve, and then when you decided to make a career out of it, you switched from being reserve on active duty to being regular army.

HJ:

Apparently that was it.

EE:

So that was probably sometime early fifties when you made this change?

HJ:

Probably. It's when I was at Oliver General.

EE:

That makes sense, because up until '48, women couldn't be regular army, so that's probably when the conversation started, when [Harry S] Truman signed the bill integrating women into the services. You could be regular army in addition to reserve.

HJ:

Maybe that's why he thought it would be better to join regular army.

EE:

Probably half a world from us tonight there are women flying combat missions. How do you feel about that?

HJ:

I've never felt that women should want to do everything that the men do. I just don't—I think there are plenty—It might not be a very popular statement, but I've never felt that they should push to get into every single field that the men are involved in [unclear].

EE:

You went in—seven members of your family went in the service during a time of war. Do you think the country was more patriotic then than today? How are things different?

HJ:

I think they were, because I remember Pearl Harbor and what the feeling was like at that time.

EE:

Did you ever think we might lose that war?

HJ:

No, no. Bob was over there just prior to Pearl Harbor. He came home just before Pearl Harbor.

EE:

You never know when you're going to be lucky in that respect, do you? We were visiting the World Trade Center seven weeks before the attack, so it does make you stop and think.

Well, it's a sin to do twenty-three years of a life in an hour interview, but I've about done it. Is there anything about your time in service—You all have had a military life together, you are here in one of the most hallowed places you can be as a serviceman, as a veteran, right here at the doorstep of Fort Bragg where a lot of folks for many years, in the past and to come, will help protect us as a country. Is there anything about your service experience I haven't asked you about you want to get on the record for anybody?

HJ:

Not really. I just really enjoyed my years in the army.

EE:

So if you had to do it over again, you would?

HJ:

I would. I definitely would. I never had a bad assignment.

EE:

Not many folks in their work life can say that.

HJ:

No, I never had a bad assignment.

EE:

That's great.

Well, thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Jones, for being here tonight.

HJ:

Well, we thank you.

[End of interview]