Registered Nurse Mary Barkei served with the Navy Nurse Corps during World War II. She was initially stationed in the United States, but in 1944 she received orders to go overseas with Naval Mobile Hospital No. 10. While sailing to her new post, she wrote to her mother, “Never as long as I live will I forget or regret this trip. Now after nearly a year and a half of so called Navy life, I may have a chance to do what I came in for.” Her mobile hospital was located on Banika, part of the Solomon Islands.
Despite its mobility, the hospital included eighteen surgical wards, twelve medical wards and a clinical laboratory. Naval Mobile Hospital No. 10 could treat 2,000 patients at a time, and only 15 of the 10,000 patients admitted between March 1944 and June 1945 died while at the hospital. Mary returned to the United States in October 1945.
Mary’s Navy Nursing Corps cap, with the same insignia as that worn by Navy men. Gift of Mary Barkei Marler, The National WWII Museum Inc., 2000.185.
Soldiers suffering from trench foot exercise at a base hospital in France under the supervision of Capt. Edward Bendittz, Worcester, Mass and 1st Lt. Muriel Woolhouse, St. Paul, MN, 03/03/1945
Wounded comrades, Russian front.
“Then you have our corpsmen,” he continued. “They had to carry twice as much gear just for medical supplies for us. Then if somebody gets wounded, you can’t hold them back from running to the front or running to that individual. I’ve tried, and you can’t.”
Corpsman Wike trying to save the life of a wounded Marine on Hill 881 North in 1967
The hill battles lasted for 12 days and nights.
Navy Hospital Corpsmen saved the lives of countless Marines in combat, and a lot of Corpsmen were killed while giving medical treatment to Marines. When they heard “CORPSMAN UP!” they were there, exposing themselves to enemy fire.
A US medic giving care to a wounded SS soldier
Wounded German soldiers in a Red Cross Fi 156 Storch.