WWII medical support units provided a literal lifeline to the casualties of the war. This story is in recognition of all the medics who experienced their own kind of war taking care of the sick, the injured, the wounded, and the dying.
One of the many medical support units in WWII was the United States (US) Army 24th Evacuation Hospital which was activated on June 15, 1942, at Fort Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan. On January 21, 1944, after extensive preparation for overseas movement, the unit sailed on the Queen Mary from New York City, New York, and arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, on January 29, 1944. The evacuation hospital complement was then stationed at Cheddar in Somerset, England, awaiting the invasion of Europe.
The 24th Evacuation Hospital landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on June 12, 1944, six days after D-Day. The unit followed US military operations through France and then in Leopoldsburg, Belgium, and in Uden and Nijmegen, Holland, it provided medical support for Operation Market Garden in the fall of 1944.
In an oral history interview for the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, in September 2011, 24th Evacuation Hospital nurse Lieutenant Josephine Pescatore Reaves tells the story of two patients in the hospital in Nijmegen, Holland, who were seriously wounded. The two patients, members of the US Army 101st Airborne Division, were John Kubinski from Ohio and Nick Patino from New York. This is the story.
Josephine’s story is representative of the medical units in WWII that were responsible for saving many lives. They also had to deal with the deaths of many young men. During her interview Josephine shared with me, “I shed quite a few tears … when the boys didn’t see me.” If the families of those lost in WWII had known that their loved ones did not die alone but were in the hands of caring people, it may have offered them some solace in their grief.
There are two other stories on this website about the US Army 24th Evacuation Hospital and Lieutenant Josephine Pescatore. The posts are “WWII Camp Shanks, New York: And a Visit by Archbishop Spellman,” story link https://www.ww2history.org/war-in-europe/wwii-camp-shanks-new-york-and-a-visit-by-archbishop-spellman/ and “An Afternoon in Paris after Liberation: And a Letter from a Parisian Lady” link https://www.ww2history.org/war-in-europe/an-afternoon-in-paris-after-liberation-and-a-letter-from-a-parisian-lady/.
The photograph in this story is used with the permission of Josephine Pescatore Reaves. The oral history video is used with the permission of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.
A valuable website with extensive information on many of the US medical support units in WWII is the WW2 US Medical Research Centre at https://www.med-dept.com/unit-histories/.