Navy Veteran Katherine Leahy is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Katherine Leahy was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in April 1912. She graduated from the Yale School of Nursing in 1934 and worked as a nurse in a hospital in Bridgeport. Leahy enlisted in the Navy in 1943 because she thought “nurses would be needed” and that she could help. Her younger brother was joining the Marine Corps and she “thought he might need some attention sometime.”
Leahy served in various hospitals and facilities, including Norfolk, Saint Albans and San Diego. By late 1944, she knew she would eventually deploy somewhere in the Pacific. That destination would soon be Guam.
When she arrived on the island, she was placed in Fleet Hospital 111, where the first wave of wounded soldiers she treated were from the Iwo Jima campaign. She described the patients she treated as “covered with the ash of Iwo Jima,” and she constantly worked to treat their wounds. She was promoted to the rank of lieutenant junior grade while on the island. However, she expressed that that rank did not play a major factor in her work and that the nurses “all worked together.”
Leahy received what she called “small moments of relief” during her service. She met up with her brother while his ship stopped at Guam on its way to China. In the interview quoted above, she recalled watching comedian Bob Hope perform during a United Service Organizations (USO) show. The USO was an organization that provided entertainment for service members. She remembered “so many people there” and “they all loved it.”
Leahy’s service ended with the war in August 1945; she was discharged at the rank of lieutenant junior grade. After her service, she worked at Bullard Company, as an industrial nurse. Later, she worked as a nurse for a surgeon for many years. She also joined her local VFW in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. She died in 2012.
We honor her service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Ryan Beane
Editors: Nathaniel Scott and Theresa Lyon
Fact checker: Giacomo Ferrari
Graphic artist: Brittany Gorski