The Chief Nurse for the US in the Korean War, Eunice Coleman, played a vital role in bringing a range of innovations in troop treatment, some of which put nurses in great danger. Matt Goolsby continues his series on Nurses in War and tells us about Eunice Coleman.

The previous articles in the series are on US Civil War nurses Clara Barton (here) and Cornelia Hancock (here), World War One nurse Julia Catherine Stimson (here), and World War Two nurse Reba Z. Whittle (here).

The innovative Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (or MASH) in Wonju, Korea. 1951.

The innovative Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (or MASH) in Wonju, Korea. 1951.

Prelude to the Cold War

When World War II ended, the allies who had fought the war against the Axis Powers – Germany, Japan, and Italy – ultimately divided into two ideological camps. 

The first were the United States, Canada, Britain, Western Europe, Australia, and other like-minded nations. These would be the powers who believed in freedom through the rule of law as republics.

The second camp was made up of two large nations, both of whom believed that communism was the way to solve man’s problems. These two nations were: The former Soviet Union and China. 

As these two camps began to divide up the spoils of war in Europe and Asia, a coming ideological storm was looming.

 

Ideological warfare becomes the Cold War

Ever strategic in their control of power, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong looked to gain geographic strongholds - one in Eastern Europe and the other in Asia. Their interests were in expanding communism throughout as much of the world as possible through brute force and oppression.

During the post-war occupation, Germany was divided into Western and Eastern zones. The Western zone was administered by the United States and the Eastern by the Soviet Union. This would ultimately be the symbolic demarcation of the Cold War.

In China, Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China resumed their dormant civil war with the nationalists led by Chiang Kai-Shek. Ultimately Mao Zedong and his revolutionaries would prevail, thus spreading communism through a vast swathe of Asia. 

The empire of Japan, in ruins after World War II, had occupied and controlled Korea during and prior to the war. Korea was now divided between the Soviet Union controlling the North, and the United States controlling the South.

The ones who suffered the most in these ongoing conflicts were those who had been caught in the middle with either no way of escape or very limited ability to flee.

After World War II, survivors of the Holocaust and other nations wanted to have a refuge for the Jewish people who had been so severely abused during the worldwide conflict. The State of Israel was established by the United Nations in 1947 with Israel itself propelled into an Israeli-Arab war in 1948. This led to conflict in the Middle East that has continued to this day.

By the start of the 1950s, international tension was again escalating.

 

Into War again

Korea was now a divided nation with separate republics each stating that theirs was the legitimate claim.

As tensions continued to escalate into 1950 between the North and South, North Korea, with the assistance of China and the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea. It hoped to take control of the peninsula, after the attack on June 25th, 1950.

The United Nations, now a full-fledged worldwide body, adopted UN Security Council Resolution 82 on the same day. This condemned the North Korean aggression. 

Two days later, UN Security Council Resolution 83 was adopted authorizing the use of military force to stop the invasion of a sovereign country. 

Acting on the adoption of these resolutions, President Harry Truman asked Congress for approval of funds to fight on the Korean peninsula and received approval in August of 1950. 

America and much of the world were again at war.

 

The ‘Lucky 13’

The U.S. found itself ill-prepared to go to war in Korea, but had learned a lot from its experiences only 5 years earlier, particularly in terms of trauma care. 

The US Army had drawn down much of its military to such minimum levels that getting nurses to take up the mantle took maximum effort. Most of those brought into active duty status were part of the Army Nurse Corps (ANC).

Deploying with the Army’s 7thInfantry Division were thirteen nurses who worked at the 1stMobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.) on September 15th, 1950. The Army had learned that the key to survival for severe injuries was to have a trauma team located close to their position. 

This led to added danger in the conflict, but the rate of fatalities from severe injuries was reduced to 2.5% from 4.5% during World War II.  

Upon deploying to Incheon and then moving to Pusan, the nurses who had journeyed with the infantry came under enemy fire and were forced to take cover. On October 9th, 1950, Chief Nurse Major Eunice Coleman wrote: “The whole sky was lit up by gunfire and burning vehicles. About sun-up we got out of the ditch and started treating the wounded. All that day, until 1500, we worked on the roadside; operating and treating for shock. We lost eight men and quite a number of supplies and vehicles. When all was clear, the convoy started again and arrived at Pusan by midnight.” After this event they began calling themselves the ‘Lucky Thirteen’.

Eunice Strange Coleman was born on March 21st, 1903 in Wilbarger County, Texas to Leonard Alvin and Mary Elizabeth Coleman. She was the 3rdof five children. 

She received her Bachelors of Science degree at the University of Minnesota and had been stationed in Duke, Oklahoma prior to the war.

As with many of the other nurses throughout the history of U.S. war, there’s no record of her ever marrying. She dedicated her life to serving others through the Army Nurse Corps.

 

Saving Lives at the front

When the Korean War started, only a small contingent of nurses were working in the combat theater. 

As the war progressed, it’s estimated that more than 1,500 nurses served on the Korean peninsula, all of them women since men were not allowed to serve as nurses in the Army Corps until 1955. 

Even though the women stationed in Korea were not trained or required to fight in combat, they still had to be ready to in case the fight came to them. 

As Mary C. Quinn, a First Lieutenant who served alongside Chief Nurse Coleman in the 1stM.A.S.H. unit said: “The nurse must be armed to fight just as the soldier, sailor, or marine. The nurse’s weapons are knowledge and skills that can be employed to wage war on disease and injury wherever these calamities have laid low a man, woman, or child."

Chief Nurse Coleman learned this lesson and many others during her tour in Korea. 

Having had her nurses treat 360 wounded when their capacity had been 60 and surviving their ‘Lucky Thirteen’ roadside episode, Major Coleman, a devout Catholic, was asked why she stayed in the Korean conflict. She answered: “Because if we are to impress Christianity on anybody out here, we must also live it.” Even the Chinese and Korean prisoners of war were amazed at how they were treated.

The Korean War led to great innovations for saving lives. 

The first was the use of helicopters to transfer wounded soldiers back to M.A.S.H. units.

The aircraft used in the majority of transfers was the UH 13 Helicopter called the ‘Sioux’. This method was a rapid way to assist traumatized and wounded patients to the mobile units. 

In fact, not only were American and allied UN soldiers transported, but also North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war were convoyed back where they could be cared for.

The nurses would often work twelve-hour shifts, only to continue on once their shift was over due to the numerous casualties coming into their units.

The second advancement in trauma care treatment was the transport of blood and blood banks to where it was needed most. It was in this conflict that the Army started using plastic instead of bottles to transport, store, and administer blood. 

Storage of blood in bottles often led to breakage in transfer or hemolysis, the destruction of red blood cells, because the bottles had to be stored in refrigerators prior to use.

The third major advancement came in vascular surgery. This led to a reduced level of amputations due to trauma from 49.6% in World War II to 20.5% in Korea. This was a significant reduction in long-term injury care.

The fourth and final advancement came in renal dialysis (kidney). Nurses were the ones to first use dialysis to save lives of those who had hemorrhagic fever thus keeping the severely wounded alive long enough for surgery.

Even while saving lives, Chief Nurse Coleman found humor. 

As the nurses were huddling in the roadside ditch in Pusan, Major Coleman called out their names twice for a response. One of her thirteen ‘Army Nightingales’, as they were fondly called, 1stLieutenant Marie Smarz didn’t answer.

Finally, Major Coleman went down the line touching each one to make sure they were safe. Why hadn’t Nurse Smarz answered? “I was afraid the Reds would hear me,” she replied. 

Major Coleman would go on to be awarded the Bronze Star with V bar for Army Nurse Corps valor. She would also go on to serve at the Kansas City General Hospital School of Nursing. 

Eunice Strange Coleman passed away on August 15th, 1983, living to the age of 80,having served her country for many years in the Army Nurse Corps. 

She exemplified the caring and nurturing spirit that the nurses in our military demonstrate to those in greatest need. The following nurses’ prayer is a testament to what these ‘Army Nightingales’ demonstrated during this conflict.

May they never be forgotten.

 

What do you think of the article? Let us know below.

 

 

The Army Nurse Corps Prayer

The Prayer of an Army Nurse.

The Prayer of an Army Nurse.

References

Mary M Roberts, RN, “The Army Nurse Corps, Yesterday and Today”, United States Army Nurse Corps, 1955.

Margaret (Zane) Fleming Collection, Gift of Frances Zane, Women's Memorial Foundation Collection, “The Lucky Thirteen”, Pacific Stars and Stripes, Tom Hamrick, 1951 and other associated articles. (Many thanks to the Women’s Memorial Curator Britta Granrud for her assistance.)

Do you know why the world came to the brink of nuclear war?

Two words – ‘Cold War’.

The Cold War was international affairs for the second half of the 20th Century. Nuclear weapons testing, civil wars in all corners of the globe and the race foreconomic dominance were all key spheres of the Cold War, although they werejust a few elements of a very complex global puzzle. More so than the greatbattles between Carthage and Rome in Ancient times or the Napoleonic Wars, the Cold War defined our world. But, there was one key difference between the Cold War and earlier major wars. Due to advances in technology and communications, the Cold War touched most countries on earth.

Get the Book on Amazon

This introduction to the early years of the Cold War is the debut book from George Levrier-Jones. He tells the story of the great clash between the Communist Soviet Union and thecapitalist USA. George’s fast-paced, concise writing style will allow you to quickly learn about the key events of the Cold War, and to find out how the world came to the cusp of nuclear annihilation.

Get the Book on Amazon

The topics in the book include:

  • The origins of the Cold War and why the USSR and USA emerged from World War 2 as super-powers
  • How the Soviet Union and the USA quickly went from war-time allies 
  • to enemies
  • The key changes in post-war Europe
  • The Berlin blockade and the building of the Berlin Wall
  • Events in East Asia - the Chinese Civil War and why the Korean War became integral to the Cold War
  • Nuclear weapons development
  • Uprisings and revolutions in Eastern Europe in the 1950s, including the Hungarian revolution
  • The most dangerous event of the early Cold War years, the Cuban Missile Crisis

The approximately 80-page book is the perfect complement to the Cold War History audio series that is available as part of the ‘History in 28-minutes’ podcasts.

The Cold War between the Soviet Union and United States defined much of the latter half of the twentieth century in international relations. But was the only time that the superpowers actually came to blows when they were allies in World War Two? Mykael Ray explains.

An image reflective of the Cold War. Source: Anynobody, available  here .

An image reflective of the Cold War. Source: Anynobody, available here.

As history shows us, there is limited adhesive holding America and Russia together. Though there has been peace between them for many years, there have been a number of occasions in which tensions ran much higher than is comfortable between the two countries.

Simply mentioning the Cold War is enough to make this point, but even now, there is “The Mutual-Hostage Relationship between America and Russia”, which is described by Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky as essentially a nuclear standoff between the two nations that creates a system of balance and fear based peace in the world.

With both countries having their hands on the most powerful weapons, other nations can be kept in a state of unwillingness to act on a large scale - just in case one of the triggers gets pulled.

Despite the amount of tension found between the two, direct conflict has never truly ensued.

Or has it?

 

Friendly fire?

On October 7, 1944, American P-38 Lightning pilots bombed ground troops near Nis in Yugoslavia on their way to assist Soviet troops. What actually happened was that the American fighters rained down upon the Soviets themselves. Out of response to the situation, the Soviets put their own Yak fighters in the air, which resulted in a 15-minute dogfight between the two supposed allies.

US planes must have realized the error a little too late, or maybe not even at all. Or, for all anybody truly knows, they could have realized it from the start and followed through anyway. On the other hand, instead of trying to call off the attacking Americans, the Soviets fought back at full strength, killing an undisclosed number of American airmen.

Accounts vary greatly as to how the friendly fire fight happened. Some believe that the Americans strayed up to 400 kilometers off course, and misidentified the Soviet fleet as hostile German forces. Others claim that the Americans were due to meet up with the Soviets to provide air support, but the Soviets traveled faster than anticipated, putting them 100 kilometers ahead of schedule, leading to the same end result.

Regardless of whose fault it was, both countries are keeping their records of the situation classified, and speculation will continue to be the only explanation for the “misunderstanding”. Even with certain facts regarding the incident being omitted, there are aspects of the battle that bring up a resounding question about the relationship between the two superpowers.

Was there some sort of bad blood between the two powers in south-eastern Europe at the time? Assuming that it was actually a case of mistaken identity, once the Soviets put their planes into action, the American pilots would have instantly been made aware of the true identity of their targets after seeing the blaring red star being brandished on the side of the airplanes. At that point, an unwavering ally would have ceased the attack and pulled away from the area. Instead, the battle extended 15 minutes after Soviet pilots were in the air.

 

So what happened?

Why do we not know the details? The embarrassment surrounding the situation must be shared equally between the two countries. We do not know the exact facts about what happened because both governments have classified as much information about it as possible, leading to much speculation that either both parties regret the event in its entirety, or that there is a mutual benefit to both of them in keeping it secret.

Of course, this was not the only time that the two countries faced each other in battle in the twentieth century. In 1950, during the Korean War, the Soviets provided the Chinese and North Koreans with their MiGs 15 fighters and pilot training. Soon after, evidence revealed that Soviet pilots actually flew against American fighters.

However, the Russian military to this day deny involvement in any direct confrontation in Korea. And with the Russians not taking responsibility (or credit) for the accusations, Nis remains the only direct confrontation between the two powers in which both admit to having participated in.

The debate around Nis will have to continue until the documents are declassified and made public. Whether it was a secret government conspiracy, or an embarrassment swept under the rug, there is an irony in the details.

Over 70 years later, despite many decades of tension between these two superpowers, one of the few times that the the Soviets and Americans actually came to blows was potentially due to a simple case of mistaken identity - and shortly after their alliance during World War Two, the Cold War began.

 

Did you enjoy this article? If so, tell the world! Tweet about it, like it, or share it by clicking on one of the buttons below!

Sources

Wolfgang K. H. Panafsky “The Mutual-Hostage Relationship between America and Russia” http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/24463/wolfgang-k-h-panofsky/the-mutual-hostage-relationship-between-america-and-russia

Norwich University “10 Largest Air to Air Battles in Military History” http://militaryhistory.norwich.edu/10-largest-air-to-air-battles-in-military-history/

www.ww2today.com, “USAAF Lightnings vs Soviet Yaks over Yugoslavia 1944” http://ww2today.com/7-november-1944-usaaf-lightnings-vs-soviet-yaks-over-yugoslavia

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

Hello Everybody,

The man who authorized the use of the atomic bomb against Japan in World War 2, and the man in charge when the Cold War began, is the focus of this episode of Cold War People - former US President Harry S Truman.

Episode 3 - Truman_v2.jpg

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Truman was President of the USA over the years 1945-1953, the years when the Cold War really got going. In Cold War History, we saw how instrumental Truman was as Europe became divided in the post-war years and during the Korean War, but in this episode we shall look at Truman’s wider life.

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Enjoy!

George Levrier-Jones

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

The Korean War, episode 3 of itshistorypodcasts.com's series on the Cold War is out now.

Episode 3 - Korean War 2.jpg

The main focus of the episode is on the first major international war since World War II, and one that saw the Cold War battle lines grow stronger – the Korean War. This was not just a war among Koreans though - as with many major international events in the Cold War years, it ended up becoming caught up in the battle between Communism and capitalism..

Happy listening!

George Levrier-Jones

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AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones

This article was previewed on the site for a time and the full article is now in the magazine. Click here for more information!

 

Meanwhile, you can see another of our articles on Cold War Taiwan here: 

Cold War Taiwan’s Electronic Industry

 

 

And here is the start of the article on the Taiwan Straits Crisis itself...

 

Sixty years have come and gone, but the sun has yet to set on the Taiwan Straits Crisis. Stranded on the rocky island of secrecy amid the storms of the Cold War (1947-1991), the mists of time should not be permitted to veil the lessons that must be learned.  In the U.S. during the early 1950s, Eisenhower was in office, China was engaged in a civil war, the Soviets were antsy, and the Air Force longed to hear the words ‘the pickle is hot’, indicating they were free to unload armaments. The only thing missing from the high-tension plot was a bevy of brilliant beauties unless, of course, you consider Madam Chiang Kai-shek and Hedy Lamar.

 

Remember - click here to find out more about the magazine! 

A Skyray plane in flight off Taiwan in 1958

A Skyray plane in flight off Taiwan in 1958

“How can you have a war without a war?”, a listener asked me a few months ago. “If the Cold War was a war, can’t any type of diplomatic activity against another country be called a cold war?”

“Touché”, I said, in part being polite and in part as they had a point.

The Cold War is a misnomer if ever there was one.

The battle for the world

The Cold War was probably the most intense, long-term battle that the world has ever known. Only, in ways different to other battles.

20130603 Cold War_v1Stamp_of_China.1955.Scott243.jpg

This battle, this war, was between the USA and the USSR and lasted from the end of World War 2 until (about) 1991. The USA emerged from the ashes of World War 2 as the world’s supreme power, but the Soviet Union, although greatly weakened by that war, was the second most powerful. And these two powers had opposing systems – democracy and dictatorship, capitalism and Communism. This great difference is perhaps most famously (and most partisanly) summed up by Ronald Reagan, in his ‘Evil Empire’ speech in 1983:

“They preach the supremacy of the state, declare its omnipotence over individual man and predict its eventual domination of all peoples on the Earth. They are the focus of evil in the modern world.... So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride, the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”

On re-reading that, this led me to a different conclusion.

The term Cold War isn’t a misnomer – what made this Cold War different was its size, reach, and the ideological differences of the two countries that opposed each other. The two powers never came to direct blows, in large part due to the advent of nuclear weapons, but they did battle each other in all corners of the world on an unprecedented scale.

Do the Berlin Airlift, Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin Wall, Vietnam War, Korean War, nuclear weapons, the SALT negotiations, the Renewed Cold War, and the Prague Spring ring any bells? The Communists and the US faced off against each other in all of these battles, but were ultimately able to avoid war, although equally able to avoid peace.

The Cold War was so much more than a war though. It also involved humor. Well, a bit.

But the Cold War wasn’t all serious

There were indeed some humorous incidents, like the time that Chinese leader Mao, met Soviet leader Khrushchev in the swimming pool, or the time that an 18-year-old German pilot, Mathias Rust, managed to evade Soviet defense systems and land a small aircraft in central Moscow.

But, the scariest and funniest (if you like really dark humor) events of the Cold War were the near nuclear misses. Nuclear weapons radar systems were not terribly advanced, shall we say, meaning that the super-powers came to the brink of launching weapons against each other on far too many occasions. We can and should learn something from all this, right?

Well, let’s hope modern world leaders have read up on their history. And that they think the term Cold War isn’t a misnomer. Better still (if rather cheekily), that they’ve listened to our podcasts..

Who was the greatest figure involved in the Cold War?

We may be asking the impossible here. There are so many choices for so many reasons, but do let us know what you think below!

George Levrier-Jones

This is the first in a regular series of (sometimes) humorous introductions to topics in history as part of the ‘117-second History’ blog. The Cold War History series of podcasts is available by clicking here. Episode 1 in that series is available below.

Cold War History - To the brink of nuclear destruction – From World War 2 to the Cuban Missile Crisis – Part 1: 1945-1962 (Required History)

Our new book is FREE INSTANTLY until January 30th. Grab your copy now while you still can!

Get the Book - Amazon US | Amazon UK

About the book

Do you know why the world came to the brink of nuclear war?

Two words – ‘Cold War’.

The Cold War was international affairs for the second half of the 20th Century. Nuclear weapons testing, civil wars in all corners of the globe and the race for economic dominance were all key spheres of the Cold War, although they were just a few elements of a very complex global puzzle. More so than the great battles between Carthage and Rome in Ancient times or the Napoleonic Wars, the Cold War defined our world. But, there was one key difference between the Cold War and earlier major wars. Due to advances in technology and communications, the Cold War touched most countries on earth.

This introduction to the early years of the Cold War is the debut book from George Levrier-Jones. He tells the story of the great clash between the Communist Soviet Union and the capitalist USA. George’s fast-paced, concise writing style will allow you to quickly learn about the key events of the Cold War, and to find out how the world came to the cusp of nuclear annihilation.

Get your free copy now..

George Levrier-Jones

Get the Book - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Posted
AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones
CategoriesCold War

Cold War History - To the brink of nuclear destruction – From World War 2 to the Cuban Missile Crisis – Part 1: 1945-1962 (Required History)

Buy the Book - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Do you know why the world came to the brink of nuclear war?

Two words – ‘Cold War’.

The Cold War was international affairs for the second half of the 20th Century. Nuclear weapons testing, civil wars in all corners of the globe and the race for economic dominance were all key spheres of the Cold War, although they were just a few elements of a very complex global puzzle. More so than the great battles between Carthage and Rome in Ancient times or the Napoleonic Wars, the Cold War defined our world. But, there was one key difference between the Cold War and earlier major wars. Due to advances in technology and communications, the Cold War touched most countries on earth.

This introduction to the early years of the Cold War is the debut book from George Levrier-Jones. He tells the story of the great clash between the Communist Soviet Union and the capitalist USA. George’s fast-paced, concise writing style will allow you to quickly learn about the key events of the Cold War, and to find out how the world came to the cusp of nuclear annihilation.

Buy the Book - Amazon US | Amazon UK

The topics in the book include:

  • The origins of the Cold War and why the USSR and USA emerged from World War 2 as super-powers
  • How the Soviet Union and the USA quickly went from war-time allies to enemies
  • The key changes in post-war Europe
  • The Berlin blockade and the building of the Berlin Wall
  • Events in East Asia - the Chinese Civil War and why the Korean War became integral to the Cold War
  • Nuclear weapons development
  • Uprisings and revolutions in Eastern Europe in the 1950s, including the Hungarian revolution
  • The most dangerous event of the early Cold War years, the Cuban Missile Crisis

The approximately 80-page book is the perfect complement to the Cold War History audio series that is available as part of the ‘History in 28-minutes’ podcasts.

So come and join the past – buy the book now!

Buy the Book - Amazon US | Amazon UK

George Levrier-Jones