1LT Doris (Gardner) Howard

1LT Doris (Gardner) Howard

Dates of Service: ? - Oct 1945
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Duration of WW2 from Mar 1942 - Oct 1945. Camp Grant, then 7th ANC RN to arrive at El Mirador Hotel in Palm Spring to turn it into Torney General Hospital for Africa training. Then on ships throughout South Pacific including Lurline, Monterey, Etolin, Maetsuycker, Monticello, then USS Comfort from well before commissioning in 'May 44 to return to San Pedro after we were struck by a Kamikaze.

Military Experiences

Aug 1945 - Oct 1945
Critical Care Nurse
Spent a short time here and was preparing for Charge Nurse and Captain promotion. Something went wrong with paperwork and 6 of us were honorably discharged without our consent. Because the Chief Nurse was someone we knew from Camp Grant and she was much older and didn't want a stain on her otherwise perfect record, we didn't fight it, but we were all despondent. I went home to Kenosha, Wisconsin, but after a few weeks I knew I couldn't stay. No one wanted to hear my many stories and people weren't coming home from the war yet so I didn't have anyone to talk to. I ended up moving to San Francisco to be near my nurse friends, but they were getting married and starting families, so after being so busy and treating and meeting so many people, I spent a couple of very lonely years.
Jan 1944 - Aug 1945
Operating Room (OR) Nurse
Assigned the USS Comfort while still being built. Staff on a number of test runs, the commissioning and maiden voyage. I lived on her until she limped back to San Pedro in August, 1945. The Comfort made many beachheads. We were told not to go on deck, but Mary and I would stand in the stairwell and look out at the war. Ships on either side of us would go down and the ship would rock and rock. We knew back then that anyone you met that day might be gone that night. It was always in the back of your mind. We were in Hollandia, New Guinea, Layete. Off Okinawa we were hit by a kamikaze even when we were lit up! We nurses knew there weren't enough lifeboats and I was prepared to go down with the patients who couldn't get off because they were on oxygen or too sick. We didn't go down though!
Operating Room (OR) Nurse
Mar-July, 1942. The calendar doesn't go that far back. On duty for four months at Camp Grant after enlisting, but there wasn't a lot going on for us and my best friend Mary (Rodden) Nagel and I signed up for desert duty in summer of 1942.
Operating Room (OR) Nurse
Arrived by Super Chief train on August 1, 1942. I was with a group of 6 nurses who were the 2nd group of 6 nurses to arrive. The hospital wasn't started up yet, so they had us on R&R at one of the most beautiful resorts in the West, the El Mirador Hotel. I learned to dive in the Olympic-size pool and I got a tan for the first time in my life coming from Kenosha, WI. When the time came a few weeks later, we were very busy ordering everything we needed from the sheets to the syringes. One time a soldier was not expected to live through the night after a terrible bus accident. The surgical nurse, Mert Onsrud, turned him over to me. When she came in the next morning she shouted to everyone, "Well, Gardner must have done something right. He's still with us and improving!" That felt good.

Personal Information

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