NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – On this Veterans Day, News 2 spoke with two women who served as nurses in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
One of them was Patricia Knapp.
Aside from her roles as wife and mother, being a member of the U.S. Navy is one of Knapp’s greatest honors.
“I just loved every bit of it,” she told News 2. “You make so many good friends and you just see so many things.”
Her room was decorated with patriotic emblems and war memorabilia; an ode to her time as a petty officer second class.
She joined the Navy at 20-years-old and was stationed all over, including Seattle and the Aleutian Islands, but she mostly flew with soldiers.
“I was in the plane all the time and I had to keep it clean, I had to take care of anybody who was sick, which was a lot,” she said. “There was always about 45 passengers. I just enjoyed everyone on there.”
Knapp says she holds Veterans Day in both reverence and gratitude.
“At first, I cried a little bit this morning because I have so many that are not here anymore,” said Knapp. “But I think it’s absolutely wonderful because so many remember it. Even little kids come along and bring you something to eat. I just love everything about it.”
A few doors down, fellow Navy nurse Bettie Eberhardt Fuller says she enjoyed her time in the service but it was also very difficult for her.
She had joined when she was 21.
“After Pearl Harbor was bombed I was sent immediately to the U.S. Naval Hospital in San Diego where they were bringing in the burn cases from Pearl,” Fuller recalls. “That was probably one of the most horrible things I’ve ever experienced.”
However, she does look back at the time fondly.
“I enjoyed it and it was wonderful to be able to take care of the men and their wounds,” she said.
Both women didn’t know each other in the service and once they left to have children, they never returned to nursing or to the Navy.