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The Paris Junior College History Department, in a continuing project, collects oral histories from Lamar County veterans of World War II. In recordings and transcripts, the veterans bring to life what it meant to serve 60 years ago.


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Aikin Home » Veterans Remember » Helen Seay

Helen Seay

Posted 08.28.06 at 11:46 AM

Transcript of Oral History

NAME: Helen Seay
ADDRESS: Paris, Texas
BRANCH OF SERVICE: U.S. Army Nurse Corps
DATES OF SERVICE: 1943-1945
LOCATIONS SERVED: 186th General Hospital, Fairford, England
INTERVIEWER: Allen Williams
DATE OF INTERVIEW: October, 14 2005

Williams: OK, we’re here today with Helen Seay, who was part of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II. She was a Second Lieutenant, in the Nurse Corps, and she was stationed primarily in England during World War II. My name is Allen Williams. I’m a history teacher at Paris Junior College, and we would love to start today by asking, Mrs. Seay, if she could tell us, roughly when she went into the service.

Seay: It was in the early summer of 1943. Earlier, when I was in school, I came out of a room and, two interns were walking up the hall. They asked me if I heard the news. I said, “What news?” They said, “We’ll we’re at war.” So I made up my mind then that as soon as I graduated, I would go to nursing school.

Williams: And so you did?

Seay: And so I did.

Williams: OK, where were you then?

Seay: Keystone, Nebraska, not far from Lincoln. My parents lived in Omaha.

Williams: OK, and so then from there you enlisted in the U.S. Army, Correct?

Seay: Correct.

Williams: Do you remember where your first station was?

Seay: We went to Clarksville, Colorado for basic training for nurses. And then from there, we were taken by train to New York City, to get on a troop ship bound for Europe.

Williams: Did you enjoy the ride over to the continent?

Seay: Well, once my stomach got used to the ocean. I don’t think I suffered too much from motion sickness or sea sickness. But some of them did.

Williams: When you got to England, you ended up at?

Seay: A little town called Fairford, England.

Williams: Do you know how much training you had state-side before you were shipped out to England?

Seay: No! It must have been, at least a month.

Williams: So, it was several weeks at least.

Seay: Yes, yes.

Williams: What kind of training did you have? Was it all just medical training perhaps?

Seay: No, I, I guess it was just, how to react in case we were involved in an incident or something like that and how to be military. I think that was it. Learn to salute, recognize rank, and keep you mouth shut.

Williams: (Laughs). You said you already had prior medical training, correct?

Seay: Oh yes, I had three years of nurses training.

Williams: Where was that?

Seay: That was at Brian Memorial Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was a registered nurse when I joined the service.

Williams: What year did you graduate from high school?

Seay: Oh, let me see….1939.

Williams: As soon as you graduated from high school, did you go straight to nursing school?

Seay: Went directly to Western University. At that time nurses had to have a year of pre-nursing, up at the college, before they could go in the program at Brian Memorial.

Williams: How long were you there?

Seay: A year.

Williams: Did you work at any hospitals in that area or spend time in the hospitals in that area when you finished?

Seay: No, I went directly to Brian Memorial.

Williams: OK, so, needless to say, the war started a little bit later?

Seay: Yes.

Williams: Then you joined the military?

Seay: I graduated from nurses training, then went straight to the program.

Williams: Did you have any friends that worked with you at the time?

Seay: No I was the only one. My parents weren’t too happy about the situation, but it was something I felt I needed to do, and wanted to do.

Williams: So then, not long after that, you volunteered for the military?

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