Friday, November 20, 2009

Bedpan Commando

I do not normally make it a point to watch the History Channel, but their new series WWII in HD is truly amazing. The History Channel has gone to great lengths to find unbelievable footage and awe inspiring survivors to tell the stories of those who bravely fought in WWII. While most of the narrations come from men, one woman from Wautoma, Wisconsin was included. June Wandrey was a First Lieutenant in the Army Nursing Corps and fought in the war for three years. She was described in her bio as “a fun-loving young woman with a fierce sense of independence that is decades ahead of her time.” Upon the U.S. entering WWII, June was among some 70,000 women who enlisted to help fight the Nazi’s and care for the sick and dying. As a nurse she saw the most horrific side of war and was often the last person to speak to so many fathers, sons, husbands and lovers. Her struggle to preserve her sense of self was challenged by all the brutalities of war and seems to be an experience that she is still trying to overcome.

June’s story is one that is not often told. Women’s roles during WWII have mostly been confined to “Rosie the Riveter”, and while that proved to be the jumping off point for women in the work place, June’s story of total emersion in the war deserves just as much attention and contemplation. If you are interested in reading June’s entire story check out her book Bedpan Commando: The Story of a Combat Nurse During World War II and go to to for more details on the WWII in HD project.

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