Pearl Harbor Stories

  • Dec 1, 2000

In honor of the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we present excerpts from "Pearl Harbor, the Korean Conflict, and COL Mildred Irene Clark," [PDF] Imagining in Time, AANA Journal, 2000;68(6):487-490. 

Pearl Harbor, the Korean Conflict, and COL Mildred Irene Clark
...COL Mildred Irene Clark [was] an Army nurse anesthetist who became chief of the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) in 1963...and whose service encompassed World War II, the Korean Conflict, and part of the Vietnam War. Clark had been commissioned in the ANC in 1938 and was subsequently sent to the Jewish Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa, where she got her anesthesia education under the venerable Hilda Saloman, CRNA, a past-president of the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) (M.I. Clark, CRNA, BA, written communication, 1992).
....In 1940, after completing her anesthesia training, 2LT Clark received orders to Hawaii. While on pre-embarkation leave, she made arrangements to go to the Mayo Clinic and learned to use pentothal, under the tutelage of Florence McQuillen, CRNA, and John Lundy, MD, becoming a pioneer in the use of that drug within the Army3(p16) (M.I. Clark, written communication, 1992). In February 1941, she sailed from New York, through the Panama Canal, to Hawaii. She was assigned to the Army Hospital at Schofield Barracks, where she shared the anesthesia workoad and call with one other nurse anesthetist.3(p240)

Eagles came to rest on the shoulders of COL Mildred Irene Clark, CRNA, BA, when she was promoted to colonel and named chief of the Army Nurse Corps on September 1, 1963. Doing the pinning on the left is COL William H. Moncrief, Jr., MD, MC, a long-time friend, and on the right is Army Surgeon General LTL Leonard D. Heaton, MD, MC.
Vivid memories of Pearl Harbor

About Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, Clark wrote: "Loud explosions awakened me and I heard planes overhead. I opened the door and saw planes coming through the [Kole Kole] pass in the mountains between Honolulu and Schofield. The large bright insignia of the rising sun was boldly on the side of each plane. They flew so close I could hear the radio communications between the pilots. In one minute I dressed and ran to the hospital.
"The hospital was hit, even though the hospital building had a large red cross painted on the roof....Casualties were arriving on stretchers as I reported to the operating room, with ambulance siren wailing in the background. In a short time, the nine operating rooms were extremely busy, while patients waited for care in the corridor. I kept hearing planes overhead, but we were too busy to be afraid or to ask what was happening. All day and into the evening I went from one patient to the next without sitting down or having a cup of coffee. Someone brought fried chicken in but few of us felt hungry, as we had seen too much death and were involved with the most serious wounds and bravest of men. Patients had arms and legs amputated, severe chest and spinal wounds, abdominal and cranial wounds. Many wanted to go out and fight back. Some wanted a prayer said or to hear the 23rd Psalm, and we obliged them along with the surgical procedures....Sometime near early morning following the attack, several of us had the opportunity for a quiet moment to talk to each other and exchange our limited knowledge of what had happened."3(pp16-17) 
Clark stated that rumors were abundant, and that there was anticipation of a Japanese invasion of the islands and conversation centered around what one would do in such a case.3(p17),4(pp184-185) It was some time before they knew with certainty that the Japanese Navy had left the area.

Read Full Story [PDF]

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