By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Yamhill women want recognition for nurse cadets

Submitted photo##
A Massachusetts newspaper ran a photo when Jane Day and two of her brothers joined the service during World War II. Carol Prendergast and 
Susan Day of Yamhill are Jane s niece; their father, John, is on the 
right and their uncle, Thomas, on the left.
Submitted photo## A Massachusetts newspaper ran a photo when Jane Day and two of her brothers joined the service during World War II. Carol Prendergast and Susan Day of Yamhill are Jane's niece; their father, John, is on the right and their uncle, Thomas, on the left.
A Nurse Cadet Corps recruiting poster.
A Nurse Cadet Corps recruiting poster.

When Carol Prendergast and Susan Day were girls, the Yamhill sisters loved hearing stories about their aunt’s service in World War II.

Jane Day, their father’s sister, served her country in the Cadet Nurse Corps. She and about 24,000 other young women volunteered to be trained as nurses so they could work in hospitals and clinics on the home front while more experienced medical personnel served overseas.

They did vital work then, Day said, but today few people even know the Cadet Nurse Corps existed.

She and Prendergast, along with other members of their family, have been advocating for the government to officially recognize the corps. It’s the only group of WWII volunteers that remains unrecognized.

Congress is considering a bill recognizing the Cadet Nurse Corps. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, is a cosponsor of the legislation, and both Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, have spoken of their support.

Merkley, whose wife is a nurse, supports the bill because he knows how critical nurses are to American’s everyday lives, according to his staff. That was especially true during the war, so he wants the cadet nurses to receive the recognition they deserve.

The bill, S-997, is pending in the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. If it goes to the floor and passes, veterans of the cadet corps will be honored with plaques and U.S. flags on their gravesites.

“We’re not asking for money,” Day said, “and this is not a partisan issue.”

She, her sister, other family members and friends have been calling and writing to the Legislators on behalf of the bill. She’s asking other people to do so, as well. Even if the bill fails, she wants Legislators to be made aware the cadets need to be recognized, in hopes the issue will come up again.

Aunt Jane saw a recruiting poster for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Cadet Nurse Corps. “Become a Nurse. Your country needs you!” it read.

She signed up at the same time two of her brothers were joining the military.

Brother Tom Day ended up working in Germany during the occupation after the war ended. Brother John Alden Day, father of Susan and Carol, served in the Navy as an electrician’s mate on the USS Fessenden, a destroyer escort in the Pacific Theater.

Jane Day was sent to Alaska after finishing her training. She worked in hospitals there and had quite a few adventures, her nieces said. Once, she was on a small boat when a black bear attacked; she shot it to save her life, she told her family. Carol and Susan remember playing on the bear rug as children.

After the war, Aunt Jane moved to Florida, where she married. She continued working as a nurse all her life, even starting her own clinic.

Their late aunt would be pleased to know about her nieces’ efforts to get the WWII Cadet Nurse Corps recognized, Day said.

“She was proud of her service,” she said. “We just want that to be recognized.”

Comments

snobrdhideout@aol.com

Surprised The Nurse Cadets have gone so long with out recognition an absolute travesty ! They are Veterans in service of our Country ! in War Time ! Quite certain our President will scratch his head on this one wondering How did this happen ?
Needs Fast Track of approval !

snobrdhideout@aol.com

This article needs to Run again Highlighting for Support !

Reporter Starla Pointer

I'm not sure what you mean by "highlighting for support, snobrdhideout. But those who wish to support this effort can contact their Congress members by phone, email or postcard -- Wyden, Merkley and Bonamici have all told me that they respond to citizen contacts.