Mason City Globe-Gazette

Mason City, IA

25 Nov 1944




Iowan Head of Nurses in Fifth Army

(Iowa Daily Press War Correspondent)

With the 5th Army in Italy, (IDPA) -- Capt. Helen E. Wharton, director of nurses of the 5th army was born in Livingston and is a resident of Iowa City.

The tall, attractive, 34 year old native of Appanoose county wears the purple heart in recognition of wounds received when the hospital ship, New New Foundland, was bombed and sunk in the Mediterranean Sea, Sept. 13, 1943.

After being graduated from Mystic high school she went to the Michael Reese Nursing school in Chicago and from there to take further nursing education at Columbia University in New York City.

From the time she finished that course until November 1942 she was assistant director of nurses at the New York State Psychiatry Institute of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center. She then joined the army as a second lieutenant in the Micheal Reese Unit in which she came oversees to land in Africa in April of 1943.

In January of 1944 she was given her present assignment, which is among the most important in the American armed forces. She regularly visits all the hospitals in the 5th army because everything which concerns nurses is her business. High ranking officers say she is remarkably energetic and efficient.

"Yes, traveling from place to place I am sometimes under fire," she admitted modestly, "but my thoughts are with all of the boys fighting our enemies and especially those who are wounded and sickened in service."

Captain Wharton has highest praise for the courage of the nurses, who come from every state in the union.

"I have known many of them to do their tasks when they were ill but would keep it to themselves so the doctors wouldn't send them to bed," she said. "I know some, who have put on leg sprints when their ankles gave out so they could continue working, and I know one, who insists upon doing what she can at her evacuation hospital with a broken neck she got in a driving accident."

"Greatest place in the world," Captain Wharton said of Iowa.

Her father is Harry B. Wharton who has charge of dental maintenance at the state university.

Cpl. James E. Chapin, Cedar Falls, a mail orderly in the 34th division, who has delivered an average of 100 letters and packages daily, excluding Christmas season for almost 2 years, believes mail call is more popular than chow call with soldiers. He also says:

Combat troopers wish their wives, sweethearts, parents and friends would write more often.

Air mail letters are preferred to V-mail because the latter are not enough.

Packages from home are seldom tied securely and with sufficiently heavy cardboard, and many incomplete addresses cause delay in deliveries.

Cpl. Tony F. Rickwa, Sioux City, a cook in the 34th division, once served gravy with shrapnel in it from a shell which burst over him while he was preparing a meal; another time he and other members of his kitchen force ducked under a truck when a nazi stuka started strafing the road, and while he was at work near Anzio a Jerry shell made a hole big enough to park a jeep in only 75 yards from him.

Pfc. Homer F. Blackburn, of Stuart, a 91st division artilleryman, recently awoke in a fox hole to find a 6 foot black snake slithering across his throat.

Sgt. Lewis Ross of Cedar Rapids, a 34th infantryman, ran out of a house and rescued a lieutenant by a nazi sniper.

Capt. Joseph P. Steig of Lake City, a 91st communications officer, with 20 men, 16 of whom wear the combat infantryman's badge, strung 860 miles of telephone wire in 27 days to front line troops during the drive to the Arno river.

Staff Sgt. Grady Lee, of Minden, in charge of his battalions ammunition train in the 88th division, has been awarded the Legion of Merit for the period between Feb. 6 and June 5; Cpl. Leo P. Dunlap, Algo, has been awarded the bronze start for digging gun emplacements with a bull dozer under fire; Capt. Kenneth C. Hoffman, Davenport, received the award for showing outstanding bravery in leading his men in the capture of an important town; Capt. Hilliard A. Tolliver, Charles City, was so decorated for administering first aid to wounded men under fire; Pfc. Dallas Harding, Indianaola, got it for capturing 20 German prisoners, and 1st Sgt Paul H. Derby, Blakesburg, already twice wounded and wearing the purple heart with oak leaf cluster, for heroic action at Mt. Castelone.

Tolliver, Hoffman, and Dunalp are of the 91st; Hardman of the 88th and Derby of the 34th.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, November 25, 1944

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