Read Veterans Day article in Rapid City Journal by Tom Griffith (on Veterans Day 2015)
(Photo below by Duke Doering on 11-10-15 when Marcella spoke at the EAFB's SD Air and Space Museum)
Lakota US Army Nurse for D-Day and Battle of the Bulge Casualties
Sitting quietly at a table with her daughters, I find Lakota elder, former U.S. Army nurse and Normandy invasion veteran Marcella LeBeau.
“We climbed down a rope ladder into a landing barge and landed at Utah Beach…and camped at a cow pasture there for a time,” Marcella remembers. “And then later went up to Paris, France and were temporarily stationed in…108th General Hospital. And then we went from there to Liege, Belgium…where we had a 1000-bed tent hospital. And we took care of soldiers from 3 different campaigns there. One of them was the Ardennes which is also the same as the Battle of the Bulge.”
“Are there any things from your time in World War Two that...when you’re around now something will spark a memory back to those days?” I ask . “Sounds, smells, comments…whatever?
“Well…one of the things that is embedded in my memory is…uh…we were very busy on our ward…patients coming and going all the time,” Marcella explains. “Some of them being transferred back to the United States. One night we had a…a…a soldier that came in. He was a prisoner of war. And I can remember his look. His skin stretched over his bones and…that vacant stare. And…just, uh…it was such a…an impact on me I can’t, uh…remove that from my memory.”
Story and photos by Jim Kent, SDPB, on May 13, 2015, at WWII veterans luncheon in Rapid City.
See also the Cpt. Walter E. Marchand's "D-Day Doctor's Diary" about about leading men ashore as battalion surgeon at Utah Beach--and Wayne Brewster's memories of a first-wave D-Day landing on Omaha Beach.
If you want to read more about nurses on the frontlines, read some of the original writings of Florence Nightingale, who ministered to the British during the Crimean War (1853-1856). Go to the end of the Wikipedia entry about her to find some links.
Another great read is by a fellow English writer Florence Farmborough, described elsewhere on this site.
As a young Red Cross nurse during World War I, Farmborough later published her photograph-rich diary, the current title being With the Army of the Tsar: A Nurse at the Russian Front in War and Revolution, 1914-1918.