Nurses in the Army 1954 US Army; The Big Picture TV-290

By | November 15, 2017

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On the life of US Army nurses in South Korea.

‘Americans are well aware of the great and heroic achievements of United States Army nurses. In World War II and during the Korean War, the Army nurse went through great hardship in performance of her duty — the same dangers endured by the troops which she accompanied into combat. But relatively little has been reported of the Army nurse in peacetime. Yet, she still serves — not only in the States — but all over the world. THE BIG PICTURE gives television audiences some impression of the work of an Army nurse overseas. Not only her work will be shown, but how she spends her leisure time and sometimes what she thinks and feels.’

“The Big Picture” episode TV-290

The Big Picture TV Series playlist:

Public domain film from the US National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

The United States Army Nurse Corps (AN or ANC) was formally established by the U.S. Congress in 1901. It is one of the six medical special branches (or “corps”) of officers which – along with medical enlisted soldiers – comprise the Army Medical Department (AMEDD).

The ANC is the nursing service for the U.S. Army and provides highly qualified nursing staff in support of the Department of Defense medical plans. This ANC is composed entirely of registered nurses (RNs).


The Army Nurse Corps became a permanent corps of the Medical Department under the Army Reorganization Act (31 STat. 753) passed by Congress on 2 February 1901…

During the 1898 Spanish–American War, the Army hired female civilian nurses to help with the wounded. Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee was put in charge of selecting contract nurses to work as civilians with the U.S. Army. In all, more than 1,500 women nurses worked as contract nurses during that 1898 conflict…

World War I

In World War I (1917–18) the military recruited 20,000 registered nurses (all women) for military and navy duty in 58 military hospitals; they helped staff 47 ambulance companies that operated on the Western Front. More than 10,000 served overseas, while 5,400 nurses enrolled in the Army’s new School of Nursing…

At the start of the war in December 1941, there were fewer than 1000 nurses in the Army Nurse Corps and 700 in the Navy Nurse Corps. All were women.

Colonel Flikke’s small headquarters in 1942, though it contained only 4 officers and 25 civilians, supervised the vast wartime expansion of nurses, in cooperation with the Red Cross. She only took unmarried women age 22–30 who had their RN training from civilian schools. They enlisted for the war plus six months, and were discharged if they married or became pregnant.

Due to the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the United States entered the Pacific part of World War II. Along with this military effort was the work of the Flying Tigers in Kunming, China, under Claire Chennault. Nurses were thus needed in China to serve the U.S. Army. These nurses were recruited among the Chinese nurses residing in China, particularly the English-speaking nurses that fled Hong Kong (a British colony) to free China due to the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong on 8 December 1941. The Hong Kong nurses were trained by the Department of Medical Services (directed by Dr. Percy Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke) of the Government of Hong Kong. They took up Nursing positions at the Flying Tigers (Rebecca Chan Chung 鍾陳可慰, Daisy Pui-Ying Chan 陳培英), U.S. Army (Rebecca Chan Chung 鍾陳可慰, Daisy Chan 陳培英, Cynthia Chan 陳靜渝), Chinese Red Cross (Elsie Chin Yuen Seetoo, Irene Yu 余秀芬) and China National Aviation Corporation (Rebecca Chan Chung 鍾陳可慰, Irene Yu 余秀芬).[7][8][9][10] Cynthia Chan 陳靜渝 is the elder sister of Anna Chan 陳香梅 (Mrs. Chennault).

On 26 February 1944 Congress passed a bill that granted Army and Navy Nurses actual military rank, approved for the duration of the war plus 6 months…

By the end of the war, the Army and Army Air Forces (AAF) had 54,000 nurses and the Navy 11,000—all women. Some 217 black nurses served in all-black Army medical units…
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