WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 14, 2012) -- Women veterans
of what is often referred to as the "Forgotten War" were welcomed to
the Women in Military Service to America Memorial, March 9, to
celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.
Former Marine Corps Sgt. Daisy Losack asks all women veterans to stand and be recognized March 9, 2012, as female Korean War veterans were honored at the Women in Military Service to America Memorial. From left to right: Cathy Drake, Eleanor Porter, Losack, Patricia Johnson and Kathy Taylor. Photo
by J.D. Leipold
When President Harry S. Truman ordered U.S. forces into
Korea in 1950, the entire complement of women in the armed
services numbered just 22,000, of which nearly 7,000 served
in the health care professions. The remainder held line
assignments throughout the service branches.
in the Korean War when Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals were
first introduced. MASH units are credited with reducing
deaths from battle wounds by 50 percent compared to World
War II figures. Helicopters were also first introduced to
evacuate wounded while also sustaining the force with troops
Though nurses and medical specialists
were the only women permitted into the combat theater during
most of the war, women serving stateside were assigned to a
variety of nontraditional jobs. They could serve as police,
parachute riggers, pharmacists and engineers.
keynote remarks to the audience of Korean War women
veterans, Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Purser, who serves with the
deputy chief of staff, G-2, said her current rank and
position weren't simply a representation of hard work, but
were directly related to the women veterans in the audience.
"This event serves as a long overdue opportunity to
share my appreciation to those present who influence women
service members in their personal and professional
journeys," she said. "To all of you, on behalf of all women
serving in our military, thank you for paving the way to
allow us the honor of serving our country."
look to the future, the coming years promise to be very
exciting for women in the military as additional barriers
are removed and women continue to assert themselves and are
afforded opportunities and positions that are critical to
our nation's defense," she said.
The main event
followed with Army Nurse Corps Historian Lt. Col. Nancy
Cantrell leading a panel discussion with five women Korean
War veterans from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force
who each described a particular memory from their war
Cathy Drake joined the Army Women
Nursing Corps in 1949. After basic training and
commissioning, she went to work in 1950 as an operating room
nurse with the 8055 MASH, which the television series was
loosely based on. She met her husband who served as an 8055
"The main thing about being in a
combat zone was the living quarters," Drake recalled with an
easy sense of humor. "We were all in tents. In wintertime
when we bathed, we'd all just go into one big tent, soap up
and hope the water would come on," she recalled. She added
that sometimes there' would be one of the doctors or
corpsmen in there by mistake who got the wrong time, "but we
didn't pay attention to it."
Army vet Eleanor Porter
joined the physical therapy program with the Women's Medical
Specialist Corps in 1952. Stationed at Fort Sam Houston,
Texas, she worked with burn patients, those with traumatic
head injuries and amputees.
Porter met her husband
while treating him. He lost both legs to wounds suffered in
"The reason he does so well now is because he
had such a good physical therapist," Porter joked after 58
years of marriage. "If you see him you won't think he's a
double amputee. He walks beautifully."
She and her
husband have been active with the Amputee Coalition of
America, helping to inspire servicemen and women to move
forward with their wounds.
"We have visited with
amputees twice a week for the last seven and a half years at
Walter Reed before it was closed," she said. "When a young
fella has just lost his legs and we'd walk into their room,
we hope they'll think, well, if that old geezer can do it,
so can I."
Daisy Losack, a Marine Corps sergeant and
supply clerk during the Korean War, had seen a female Marine
on a recruitment poster. That's all it took for her to
follow in the footsteps of her father and four brothers by
joining the military.
"I learned by women serving in
the military, we relieved a serviceman to execute his job to
protect our country," she said. "I am so proud to have been
able to serve my country in this capacity and I am still
trying daily to make the Marine Corps proud of me."
She met her husband at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Also a Marine,
he had survived the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Over the
years the Losacks have spoken at schools across the country
about their Korean War experiences.
Army Nurse Corp
historian Lt. Col. Nancy Cantrell said the Korean War set
the pace for trauma care today.
"With each war, we
saw a little improvement and expansion in the role of
women," Cantrell said. "Women had been mostly limited to
personnel and medicine, but the Korean War was a wake-up
call for women in that those roles were really beginning to
expand in the civilian world. They really were the pioneers
of trauma care and nursing."
Col. David J. Clark,
executive director of the Department of Defense 60th
Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Program, ended
the ceremony noting that, "today the Republic of Korea
serves as a force for good in northeast Asia, a bastion of
democracy and a staunch ally of the U.S., with an economy
that's an envy of the world."
"None of this would
have been possible without your sacrifices and those of your
fallen comrades, so on behalf of those in uniform serving
today and an eternally grateful nation, thank you," he said.
"We are standing on the shoulders of giants."
By J.D. Leipold
Army News Service
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