Becoming a Nurse and Treating Wounded Servicemen

Treating the Wounded and Learning to be a Nurse

Only Losing One Patient and Advice for Future Nurses

Various Injuries a Nurse has to Take Care of


Mary Leisey was born in Honey Brooke, Pennsylvania. It was a small town of nearly 1,000 people. She enjoyed growing up in the town, everyone knew everybody. Her family owned a restaurant and a gas station. She heard about Pearl Harbor on the radio. She had just gotten home from church. Everyone was upset and disturbed. She immediately thought about her young male friends who were more than likely going to be called into service. Leisey wanted to be a teacher but her father looked at her and said, "well you’re going to get married anyways, I do not think we have enough money to send you to college." She realized that she could become a nurse and teach so she enrolled in nursing school. It was tough but she enjoyed it because it was a different experience. She also enjoyed working with patients. Her senior year they were told that student nurses would be labeled as cadet nurses and if they wanted, they could choose what kind of hospital they wanted to stay at. Their job would be to treat the wounded coming back from overseas. Leisey chose to go to Butler Hospital in Pennsylvania. It was a rewarding experience but it was tough to see the men wounded. Leisey remembers everyone being a good sport about being wounded. A lot of the men were in full body casts and, as a result, a lot of the time Leisey had to cut a hole in the cast to administer penicillin shots. These shots needed to be administered every three to four hours. There were no female patients at Leisey's hospital. All of the patients that she saw were wounded in the European Theater. Even though she was not in the Army she had to make sure her uniform was perfect. Leisey felt like she was doing something good. She ended up being able to teach. She became a school nurse and a nutritionist. She has six children and one of her children is a nurse.


Mary Leisey saw a lot of leg injuries to go with a lot of men in full body casts. She thought they were fun to be around. Some men came back with tuberculosis. A lot of men were not fed well. Leisey remembers most of the men being wounded in their limbs, however, a lot of the men were wounded in the torso from gunshots. There were multiple things wrong with a lot of people. They were very brave. Leisey's experience made her truly happy. She had to help out with bathing the wounded. They also had to administer medications both orally and intravenously. Every day they had to change bandages. One young man was very ill and developed cancer, he did not survive but he was cared for well. She recognized immediately that part of her job was to provide uplifting support for the veterans. They tried to make it feel like home. The entire staff was military. They had a lot of free time. They played softball. Leisey was married yet she never told her coworkers. To kill time and stay out of trouble she took flying lessons. She learned a lot from the men who were wounded. The man who had cancer taught Leisey a lot about being a nurse.


Mary Leisey believes that the man who had cancer was the only one to pass away under her care. Some men were going home minus a limb or two, however, they were going home. She worried about the men after they left because of the fragile mental state that most of them were in. Leisey believes that nursing work is hard work, but it was worth it. Becoming a nurse in the service is a great endeavor. If you have a yearning to help people then nursing is a great way to do it. Leisey's advice to nurses is for them to take their time with patients. Getting to know a patient can be one of the best things you can do for them. She believes that future generations should remember that cadet nurses volunteered to do what they did.

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