The first time Clark Field was bombed by the Japanese, everyone on duty knew the plan. At the hospital, the patients were to be moved to the basement of the building where they had the best chance of not being injured. Several storage rooms had been cleared of furniture, scrubbed clean, and made ready for the patients. The bombs kept falling, but not one hit the hospital. The Japanese kept up a continuous barrage every day for almost three weeks. And each time, everyone had to take cover. This lasted from December 8th until the 24th, Christmas Eve. The day before, Sally and a new nurse named Ann were off duty. Ann had been moved from Stermmer Hospital to help out. They decided to go swimming, and both being Midwest girls, they thought donning their bathing suits in December was crazy. They had a grand time. It was good they didn’t get caught because the head nurse would not have thought it was cute at all.
The next day, things began to change rapidly. The bombs were getting closer and closer to the hospital, and the powers that be decided the patients and the medical staff had to be evacuated. The patients were loaded onto trains, and the medical staff came on board to make sure IVs were still inserted and bandages had not slipped. A small number of doctors and nurses stayed on the train and rode with the patients to Manila. The others were getting ready to board a bus when the air raid siren went off. They all had to take cover and there was a great scramble to get someplace safe. Sally saw a culvert and thought that was a terrific place to take cover. She crawled into a drainage pipe so small, she could not use her arms to move forward; she had to shimmy in. She took a deep breath and then realized there was an iguana not much smaller than her staring face to face at her. She tried to shimmy right back out of the culvert, but she was wearing riding boots, and one got stuck. The iguana did not look happy. Sally couldn’t move. It was a wartime standoff between woman and lizard. Sally shimmied harder and finally got her foot unstuck. She nearly bolted out of the culvert and came face to face with the cook from the nurses’ barracks.
“Oh, Missy Blaine, Missy Blaine, Missy Blaine!” he said, wringing his hands. “I want to help you but I could not do so!”
“I’m okay now,” Sally said, “and the bombs seem to have quit for the moment. Let’s make a run for the buses.”
HEY, EVERYONE! I’m pleased to announce that we have a winner of the Name The Book Contest! My friend Michele Hein submitted the winning title: MERCY MORE THAN LIFE: SALLY BLAINE MILLETT, WWII NURSE. For having the winning title, Michele will receive an autographed and personalized copy of the book when it is published, and she will be included in the acknowledgments page as the person who chose the title. CONGRATULATIONS, MICHELE!