Leila Morrison, a veteran of World War II, shared her story of being a combat nurse with the Army Air Corps at ESA’s Annual Leadership Convention in Denver, Colorado. The story of a WWII vet is rare to find these days and she is proud to tell her unique story at the age of 95.
Though Leila lives in Colorado now, her stories begins in Georgia where she grew up. Her father always told her she was too small to be a nurse, but after he relented and let her give it a try she found she had an aptitude for nursing and helping others. She was so outstanding in fact that the nursing school asked her to stay on as an instructor.
Leila joined the Army Air Corps when recruiters came to the school and she and several of the other nurses started training. She said, “I felt a strong sense of duty and I was proud to serve.”
Training presented a whole new adventure for Leila. She traveled all over the country, sleeping in pup tents in the Texas scrub. She also met her future husband while she was in Texas for training, fondly referred to as “Tall-Dark-And-Handsome”, though she would not agree to marry him until after the war was over saying, “Everything was so unsure during the war.”
Leila was then shipped out to Europe. Arriving first in England, she assisted with the 118th
Evacuation Hospital. Then, after receiving additional training, headed to the front lines on the main continent.
Leila was part of the medical unit that treated the Battle of the Bulge and were among the first to enter the concentration camp Buchenwald shortly after it was liberated. “I won’t tell [you] the details of the things I saw. The conditions were deplorable. They were too deplorable.” said Leila
Hot showers and warm clean sheets are something Leila doesn’t take for granted even at 95. She and the other nurses bathed out of their helmets with cold water for a year or longer. Even now she still flinches when she hears loud noises and scenes of the boys she treated play in her head when she hears the national Anthem. She is very proud to have served.
We thank you, Leila, for your service.
If you are interested in learning more about service projects you can do on your own or with a group to support and honor active military, veterans, and their families, get ideas and inspiration on our Hope For Heroes Page