3-508 Memorandum for General White, G-1, February 10, 1943

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: February 10, 1943

Subject: World War II

Memorandum for General White, G-1

February 10, 1943 [Washington, D.C.]

I find indications that considerable feeling is built up in the Army Nurse Corps towards the existing state of affairs:

That their services in overseas theaters have not been appreciated on a parallel with those of the men.

That their rank is not adequate.

That while they do not admit it, they feel that the War Department unduly favors the WAAC’s.1

I think a part of these reactions has come from the fact that there were no campaign ribbons for Bataan until comparatively recently, and that there was no decoration suitable below that of a Distinguished Service Medal. There is now the Legion of Merit.

Also, that until rather recently, what the nurses did on Bataan received comparatively little publicity—I don’t quite agree with this.

I wish you would quietly look into this and present the picture to me as you see it. It might be quite appropriate to make some initial awards of the Legion of Merit to nurses who did a fine job on Bataan or Corregidor, particularly in the case of several who I understand refused to leave though given the opportunity for evacuation.2

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Marshall’s information was obtained at a luncheon on February 10 with Eleanor R. (Mrs. August) Belmont, a member of the American Red Cross central committee since 1920 and chairman of the National Council on Red Cross Nursing. He subsequently wrote to her that Nurse Corps promotions were being expedited, but the need for congressional approval had delayed them. (Marshall to Belmont, February 19, 1943, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, General].)

2. To an inquiry from Marshall asking for recommendations of Nurse Corps members to honor for their part in the Philippine campaign, Douglas MacArthur replied: “There were many Filipino nurses who performed with equal efficiency and courage. The entire fighting command also markedly and certainly at least equally distinguished itself. To differentiate between the two would make the award of decorations dependent not so much upon performance as upon sex or other differentiation.” Moreover, the destruction of unit records made it impossible to justify individual heroism awards. (MacArthur to Marshall, February 22, 1943, enclosed in Marshall to Belmont, February 22, 1943, ibid.)

Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 3, “The Right Man for the Job,” December 7, 1941-May 31, 1943 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), pp. 540-541.

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