Freedom Fighters: Amy Amerson - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Amy Amerson

(KLTV) -

More than 59,000 nurses served in the military in World War II, working closer to the front lines than they ever had before.

Amy Amerson was in nurses training on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Like other Americans, she was horrified by the attack and as soon as she graduated, she took steps to serve her country.

Amy said, "I contacted the Red Cross and told them I wanted to go in and they made arrangements for me."

Amy went into the Navy and it wasn't long before she was on a boat, headed for the South Pacific. However, getting there safely turned out to be a challenge.

She said, "it was an old banana boat that we went on with 86 nurses, two doctors and the crew of the ship and no escort

Japanese planes and submarines made the crossing especially dangerous.

"We woke up at 6 o'clock in the morning with all these planes diving in and all like that and it liked to have scared us to death," she said.

Amy's ship wasn't hit in the attack, but others weren't so lucky.

"We were going from the Christmas Islands to the Fiji Islands and we picked up some survivors from another shipwreck when we landed on the Fiji Islands," Amy recalled.

From Fiji, Amy's group was transported to New Hebdrese Islands, a thousand miles south of Guadacanal where fierce fighting was going on. The hospital was soon flooded with the casualties of the battle.

Amy said, "They come in on stretchers, etc. And you take each stretcher as it comes in.  The doctor decides if it's an emergency or what have you, make the decision right there what to do about the patient."

It wasn't only bullets and bombs taking a toll on the soldiers, Malaria spread by the ever present mosquitoes, took their toll as well.

"There's only two of us on there that's alive," Amy added.

Amy was discharged from the Navy in 1945 as a Lieutenant. She continued her career in nursing in the private sector for another 40 years, retiring in 1983. Yet, it is her time serving our country in World War II that Amy Amerson remembers best.

"I did what I wanted to do and I felt that that was what I should do and I was just glad that I went," she said.

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