Jasper County

Miss Dorothy Cumming


Iowa Girl Lends Ear To Youths

She's on Duty in Pacific -- 8000 Miles Away By Leonard Welch

Noumea, New Caledonia -- Miss Dorothy Cumming, Newton , Ia., always had a deep interest in people and in particular in helping them.

That is how she happens to be 8,000 miles from home and at a Red Cross camp near here.

After graduation from Grinnell college, Miss Cumming, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Cumming, went to Mitchellville, Ia., where for a year, she taught music.

With the declaration of the war, she went with the army as a hostess at Fort Meade, S.D. There she remained for a year until a cavalry unit at the camp was sent overseas.

"I had become so well acquainted with the boys that I felt out of place being left behind," Miss Cumming said. "I had the choice to two things if I was to make my contribution to the war effort. I could have gone to work in a war plant and I could have helped the boys overseas."

"Some people are fitted for work in war plants. I am not and so I felt I could do more good by helping the servicemen. I joined the Red Cross and eight months ago I was sent over here with Miss Dorothy Fraser, Rochester, N.Y."

"We are the only two assigned to this unit, which serves surrounding marine camps. We are the only two Red Cross workers ever assigned to a marine corps unit overseas.

"Previous to our assignment all recreational activities were taken care of by the navy. Sending Miss Fraser and myself over was in the nature of an experiment and it has worked out so well that I understand other Red Cross workers are to be assigned to marine camps."

"We get a chance to see these boys before they go into action and when they come back" Miss Cumming continued. "The boys are pretty 'cocky' when they go out and usually a little unsteady and often emotionally upset when they return."

"Many of the boys seek an outlet for their emotions. They come to us and just sit and talk. When they get a chance to unburden themselves alone they tell of the fear that faced them before battle. They tell us that anyone who says he wasn't afraid is a liar or a fool."

"Sometimes they break down and cry in the midst of their stories and we cry right with them. When it is all over, the marine feels better and we fell better because he does."

"Listening to the marines as they get rid of the tings that are bothering them is just one of our many jobs, and it s privileged to serve them."

The two Dorothys are almost sisters to the boys in camp and are treated as such.

"Around camp the boys often use language that wouldn't be spoken in front of a sister but when they are in the clubs or we are around their conduct is exemplary," Miss Cumming said.

Sending messages of inquiry for the service men concerned with the welfare of his family at home, tracing, tracing missing letter and packages and delivering sad news are among the duties of this unit.
Miss Cumming has two brothers, Andrew, 24, an instructor in the naval air corps, and John, jr., 22, who recently received a medical discharge fro the army.

Within the next few weeks Miss Cumming expects to be transferred to an advanced Red Cross unit.

Source: The Des Moines Tribune, Feb. 14, 1944 (photo included)