Break Out of War

Treating the Wounded

War's End and Reflections


Jean Lotter was born in December 1923 in Seattle, Washington. She and her twin sister, Irene, grew up in Kent, Washington on a dairy farm. The family lost the farm early in the days of the Great Depression [Annotator's Note: The Great Depression was a global economic depression that lasted from 1929 through 1939 in the United States] and moved into town. They ran a small grocery store which featured a cafe and they lived in the back. When all the men left for the war effort manpower was needed to work the cannery in the area. British soldiers were brought in, and they lunched at the cafe. When World War 2 broke out, all the businesses and homes were required to black out their windows so the that enemy would not see the light. Lotter first heard about the Pearl Harbor attack [Annotator's Note: The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941] over the radio. She was stunned by the event, but she knew America would get through it. Lotter and her sister continued to work, until she decided to join the service because they needed medical help. She was sent to Des Moines, Iowa for basic training. Jean tried to get into the WAVES [Annotator's Note: Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service; United States Naval Women's Reserve] because her brother joined the Navy, but was rejected because of a heart murmur. The twins went into the WACs [Annotator's Note: Women's Army Corps; women's branch of the United States Army, 1942 to 1978] for the medical corps. Lotter heard about women joining the service from male servicemen who came into the cafe. Lotter and Irene discussed joining with a recruiting officer before joining. After they signed up, she was put in a troop car and sent to the train station. During basic training, some of the girls cried at night because some of the physical activities were difficult. She lived in a barn and slept on a bunk bed. Lotter felt so appreciative that she was able to stay with her sister during her whole service experience.


After Jean Lotter finished her WAC [Annotator's Note: Women's Army Corps; women's branch of the United States Army, 1942 to 1978] basic training, she and her twin sister, Irene, reported to Fort Sam Houston, Texas for medical training. Then they were sent to Cambridge, Ohio to train in physical therapy techniques, and then stationed at Madigan General Hospital at Fort Lewis, Washington. Lotter and her sister liked to play little tricks on the new patients to make them laugh. They would not tell the patients they were twins, so the patients would get confused when they saw one and then saw the other in another room. Lotter and her sister treated wounded veterans Monday through Friday. They borrowed their family car on the weekends and brought soldiers skating and to Mount Rainier National Park [Annotator’s Note: near Seattle, Washington]. Lotter and her sister slept at the hospital in a ward while they treated soldiers. On a regular day, she would get up, eat breakfast, then head to the clinic to treat patients all day. Most of the veterans had a great sense of humor. She often treated patients with appendage difficulties. She used heat lamps and massages to treat them. Both sisters played on the US Army Madigan General Hospital baseball team. Her team was invited to play in a tournament in California and they came in second place. Lotter played in the outfield. Sometimes she wrote letters to soldiers she knew overseas.


Jean Lotter served as a WAC [Annotator's Note: Women's Army Corps; women's branch of the United States Army, 1942 to 1978] at the Madigan General Hospital at Fort Lewis, Washington giving patients medical attention. Towards the end of the war, they received less patients and thought that it was about time to quit. At the end of the war, Lotter was discharged as a sergeant. She met and married her husband, an Air Force Veteran, at the cafe [Annotator’s Note: her family owned and operated a grocery and cafe] postwar. Lotter’s most memorable experience of World War 2 was Americans pulling together in one big effort. It was great that more women were involved in the working world. She is proud that she is a veteran and for all of the military out there today. Lotter believes there should be institutions like the National WWII Museum [Annotator's Note: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana], and that we should continue to teach World War 2 to future generations because it is important to love one’s country.

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