My Mom was a nurse in the 8055 MASH, Korea

A story by Pat MacPherson from 1950s

My mom, Genevieve McLean was an Army nurse and appears in this segment about the MASH units. Video courtesy of YouTube, NBC Today Show from the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

My Mother, Genevieve McLean, entered The Army Nurse Corps in 1945, after graduating from Rumford Hospital School Of Nursing 1943. She took Basic Training for nurses at Ft Devens, Massachusetts. She was stationed at Ft Williams, Cape Elizabeth for perhaps a couple years. It was after WW2, but nurses were still needed to rotate to the Hospitals for US Armies of the Occupation in Manilla, Philippines, and Japan, so she was transferred to Manilla and arrived there on Christmas Day, balmy compared to South Portland!!

Then she was transferred to Kyoto Japan, the US Army Hospital. She toured the horrible conditions Army nurses & patients suffered on the Rock islands of Corrigador when they were overrun by the Japanese. Imagine young nurses serving so far overseas for 3 years continually- no phones, very slow mail. She was brave and adventurous!

Then suddenly came the Korean War, in summer of 1950, MASH units were formed and sent from Japan. Her orders came November 1950, she arrived at 8055 MASH Thanksgiving Day (the namesake actually of TV’s 4077 MASH). It was the long freezing winter of 1950-51 with intense fighting against the Chinese. The MASH units of course were to be behind the front lines, but during Chinese advances, the MASH units hadn’t been moved fast enough, soon enough, usually happening at night.

She has quite a portfolio of slides scanned, and copies sent to the Women’s Military Memorial in Wash, DC (Arlington VA). Nurses were allowed to serve in the war zone only 6 months, you know, the weaker sex... way before we knew about PTSD among all soldiers. Transferred to Waltham Mass, Murphy Army Hospital, She served 8 years Active Duty until required to get out when I was born there.

Long story concluding, in 1988, as part of the NBC preview to the Seoul summer Olympics, a production team came to Augusta where my parents had retired, to Gardiner. The team was actually looking for Dr. Richard Hornberger, a former Army surgeon who wrote the novel, ‘MASH’. He had retired to Waterville but did not speak publicly; My Dad got wind of this, saying, "my wife was a MASH nurse!" So she was recorded on NBC-TV. To me its a tear-jerker every time I watch. I’m so proud of her and the thousands of Army & Navy nurses who served in WWII & Korea.

When I was ready for Nursing School, Mom said the Army was a good way of life, I should consider. I did, 3 years in the Army Nurse Corps, then transferred to the USAF, married a blue-suit guy & served 20 years myself.