January 29, 2017
Heroes are often not seen or known. Good deeds are often not recognized, nor or they necessarily dramatic. I share this story with you to remember that simply doing the right thing can be heroic.
Connie's Story continues...
After initial training, they were shipped to North Africa for deployment. Connie remembers being near what was ancient Carthage. She also mentioned that one day while training, she got out of line and ran up on a hill overlooking the troops to see a building that intrigued her. She heard a voice say “Stop!” She kept moving. The voice again said “Stop! Or I will shoot!” She stopped and looked down at the drill sergeant. He said to her, “I want you to walk back exactly in the steps you just took. You are walking in a mine field!” Connie froze and then walked back in exactly the same steps. She then got a stern lecture that the Army had taken the trouble to bring her half way around the world and did not want their nurses to be blown up!
The troops moved fairly quickly across the Mediterranean Sea to Sicily. When they disembarked on shore, they were under fire from German airplanes. She said at that time, the pilots could not have seen the difference between soldiers and nurses as they were all in similar uniforms. Connie watched the nearest airplane overhead and said “Run!” when it was turning around to fire upon them.
As they feared being strafed by the German airplane overhead, Connie began to pray out loud, especially the “Hail Mary”. When she paused in praying, one nurse said, “Keep praying Connie!” She and some others nurses ran towards a fox hole near some trees that acted as cover. Connie jumped in first. Soon the others followed, including one nurse who weighed over two hundred pounds and who landed right on top of ninety-five pound Connie!
Connie never claimed to be a perfect person. She remembers missing role call one time as she was still asleep. Her officer found Connie asleep in the barracks and reprimanded her. Connie woke up suddenly and spoke back harshly. She was told she would be reported to the superior officer for disrespect. When speaking to the superior officer, she was asked what happened and what was said. Connie recounted the incident. The superior officer asked, “What should we do about this?” Connie told the superior officer that the other nurse should be removed not her! The superior officer simply smiled and said, “That would be enough for now.” Nothing was done about it.
When Connie was attending soldiers who were facing death, and when a chaplain was not present, she would ask them what faith they were and prayed with them. She remembered often saying the “Lord’s Prayer”, or “Our Father”, and the “Act of Contrition” with them. She tried to make the soldiers feel at peace at such a moment with words of God’s love.
Connie said she remembered General Patton addressing the troops. They continued into Italy and arrived eventually in Rome.