By Kevin M. Hymel In a field hospital in Normandy, France, 1st Lt. Madeline “Del” D’Eletto was watching an Army doctor operate on a soldier’s head injury when one of her fellow nurses asked, “What do I do with this?” D’Eletto turned and saw the woman holding pinkish-white brain tissue. “It’s no good,” said the doctor. “Throw it away; we can’t put it back in.” It was not always the case. “Sometimes you could wash it off and repair the injury if the damage was not too great,” explained D’Eletto. The incident drove home the war’s gruesomeness. As a flight nurse with the Ninth Air Force’s 814th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, D’Eletto spent her days caring for wounded soldiers onboard a Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport aircraft, flying them from the battlefields of Europe to hospitals in Great Britain. “It was raw, hard work,” she recalled. D'Eletto's Early Years: Growing Up in the Depression But it was the job she wanted. D’Eletto had wanted to become a nurse ever since reading an article about nursing as a teenager. Raised in the western Pennsylvania town of New Castle, she grew up the elder daughter of Italian-American parents, with an older brother, Gaitano, and a younger sister, Filomena. D’Eletto decided that as a nurse she could make money and have a permanent career. “The Depression was on,” she said. “Everyone lived close to the penny.” [caption id="attachment_43704" align="ali


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in