Helen Siragusa shares her story this week as a World War II Navy Nurse. She entered the Navy in January 1945 and left in August of 1952 and stayed in the Reserves for three more years. She had just begun nursing school when Pearl Harbor happened. Her brothers joined the Navy and she walked past a recruiting poster regularly. By the time she graduated she was ready to join the Navy.
She served at St. Albans Naval Hospital in Long Island from 1945 to 1950. She graduated from nursing school in October and applied for the Navy. She was at her first training in early January. It was at Long Island, she went through six weeks of training to learn about being in the Navy. Then she was assigned to St. Albans Naval Hospital. She worked in the hospital and did not want to be assigned to B-11, the quadriplegic and paraplegic ward. Because of the stories she heard. But she did end up getting assigned there and actually enjoyed it and stayed there for three years.
Off to Cherry Point
Then she was transferred to Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina from 1950 to 1952. She caught malaria and had to be transferred to Philadelphia to see the best heart doctor. The military tried to discharge her then but she wasn’t ready to leave. She was able to go back to Cherry Point and was placed on light duty for three months. And then at a follow-up evaluation three months later she was given clearance to go back to normal duty. It was also back at Cherry Point where she met her husband.
They both got out off active duty at the same time and got married shortly after while both continuing to serve in the Reserves. She stayed in the Reserves until she got a letter that stated if she had children under the age of 25 she could no longer serve. Since she was about to be a mom to her third child so she knew that she had to leave. One thing she discussed was the community and belonging she had felt while serving. And she said, if I was asked to go back today at 98, I would do it.
If you want to learn more about the history of World War II and the women who served I recommend checking out these books at my affiliate link.
What my Grandma Did! by Erin Miller