February 5, 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...
The troops and nurses were quartered in Rome for some time before moving into France. While waiting for further orders, Connie met a young American pilot. The pilot asked if she would like to go for a fly around Rome. She went on the plane with him. He decided to “buzz” the Vatican. Connie was horrified and said, “They will shoot us!” He smiled and said, “Oh no, we’re American. They won’t shoot us.”
When they returned to the airstrip, they were both greeted by their respective superiors who were not pleased. The pilot took all the blame for Connie. Fortunately for him, he was the son of the governor of Kansas and escaped punishment after a good scolding. Connie retained his photograph.
The next week the troops and nurses were in the Vatican hoping to see Pope Pius XII and tour the Church and grounds. As they were waiting for his Holiness, they were separated by a velvet rope. The American chaplain whispered to Connie, “Go under the rope and pull on the Pope’s cassock and ask for a blessing.” Connie said, “I can’t do that!” The chaplain said, “Yes, you can.” So she went under the rope and did pull on the Pope’s cassock. The Swiss guards glared at her. The Pope turned around and smiled, saying in English, “Are you a boy or a girl?” Connie said, “I’m a girl.” She then removed her helmet so he could see her hair. The Pope said, “What do you do?” She said, “I am a nurse.” The Pope said, “That is very important. Where are you from?” She replied, “Chicago.” He smiled, “Yes, I have been to Chicago.” After a few more friendly words, His Holiness gave her his blessing.
You might wonder if he had heard about the two Americans buzzing his facility the week before!
The troops then soon went to France. Connie said they encamped at one place and were surrounded one night by German troops, but no one fired on them. At some point, Connie recalled that while caring for a wounded French soldier, it happened that General Charles De Gaulle appeared by the bedside. She noted that he did not acknowledge her work, nor speak to her. Their next experience was in Strasbourg.