WWII Army nurse, now 98, is hon­ored as hero in Seat­tle

Texarkana Gazette - - NATION/WORLD - By Hal Bern­ton

SEAT­TLE—When nurse Frances Harman learned her older brother, Jim, had been called to Army ser­vice dur­ing World War II she quickly de­cided not to be left be­hind.

“I said, ‘if he goes, I’m go­ing,’” Harman, re­calls. “He flunked his phys­i­cal and I passed mine.”

Har­mon en­listed in the Army Nurse Corps and left her home­town of Danville, Ohio, for the South Pa­cific. She spent a year in Aus­tralia, then an­other in New Guinea treat­ing burned ser­vice mem­bers in a com­bat zone hos­pi­tal.

She left the ser­vice in 1946 as a first lieu­tenant.

On Thurs­day, the 98-year old Harman, a res­i­dent of Ort­ing, Wash., be­came the first woman named to the Wall of Heroes at the VA Puget Sound in Seat­tle. She was hon­ored in a cer­e­mony at­tended by VA em­ploy­ees, Madi­gan Army Med­i­cal Cen­ter staff and Gov. Jay Inslee.

She was nom­i­nated for the wall by the Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 2 in Ta­coma, and se­lected by a com­mit­tee of VA em­ploy­ees.

Her photo and de­tails of her ser­vice— en­cased in a hand-carved wooden frame—will join those of eight other vet­er­ans of World War II, the Korean War and Viet­nam War that hang in a room near the main en­trance of the Seat­tle hos­pi­tal cam­pus of the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs.

Her mil­i­tary awards in­clude the Mer­i­to­ri­ous Unit Award, three Over­seas Ser­vice Bars, the Amer­i­can The­ater Rib­bon, the Asia/Pa­cific The­ater Rib­bon with one Bronze Bat­tle Star and the Vic­tory Medal.

“I want to thank you for your ser­vice,” Inslee said. “I want to tell you that your tra­di­tion is alive in this build­ing. I know that there are nurses here who are fol­low­ing in your foot­steps.”

Harman re­cently suf­fered a cracked fe­mur from a fall, and did not to speak dur­ing the cer­e­mony. Later, as cake and punch were served, she talked to re­porters about her long-ago days in New Guinea, when in­fec­tions in the trop­i­cal hu­mid en­vi­ron­ment were a big threat to the sol­diers un­der her care.

“Burns were re­ally bad and the pro­to­col at that time was to put on a pres­sure dress­ing,” Harman re­called. “But in a few hours, it was so hot there, that you would come up with the kind of bugs that you don’t want to have.”

To pro­tect the burns from in­fec­tion, the nurses de­vised a new way to care for the pa­tients. They placed a thin sheet of Kleenex across the wound and then sprayed it with what was then a rather new drug—peni­cillin.

While serv­ing in Aus­tralia, she met her hus­band, Lt. Howard Harman. Her hus­band, who is now de­ceased, was from Ort­ing, where the cou­ple set­tled.

Long be­fore Thurs­day’s recog­ni­tion, she re­ceived an­other, more per­sonal val­i­da­tion of her work. Decades af­ter the war, one of the sol­diers who had been un­der her care trav­eled all the way to Ort­ing to visit her, ac­cord­ing to her son, David Harman.

On Thurs­day, Harman ap­peared sur­prised, and a bit be­mused, by the dozens of peo­ple who at­tended her Wall of Heroes in­duc­tion.

“I’m so over­whelmed,” Harman said.

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