World War II flight nurses exhibit now open at the National Museum of the US Air Force

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A new exhibit focused on flight nurses during World War II opened March 3 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The Winged Angels: U.S. Army Air Forces Flight Nurses in World War II exhibit, located in the museum's Air Power Gallery, tells the story of the 500 Army nurses who served as members of 31 medical air evacuation transport squadrons during the war. It highlights such women as 2nd Lt. Elsie S. Ott, 1st Lt. Suella Bernard, 1st Lt. Aleda E. Lutz and 1st Lt. Mary L. Hawkins.

"From World War II to the present, an amazing and interesting history illustrates the courage, professionalism and dedication of our nursing personnel and a legacy that endures today," said Maj. Gen. Kimberly A. Siniscalchi, Assistant Air Force Surgeon General, Medical Force Development and Nursing Services. "Our superb flight nurses, technicians and critical care air transport teams have rightfully earned the title 'Angels of the Battlefield.'"

The exhibit includes several interesting artifacts, such as an original flight nurse blue uniform and all four variations of the flight nurse wings. Also on display are the uniform of Lt. Bernard, who was the only nurse known to have participated in a glider combat mission during WWII, and a flight jacket that belonged to Lt. Hawkins, who received the Distinguishing Flying Cross for her life-saving efforts caring for 24 patients after surviving a crash-landing in a C-47.

"These flight nurses were really part of a revolution in military medical care," said Terry Aitken, the museum's senior curator. "The introduction of flight nurses and air evacuation made it possible to save more lives than ever before, and this exhibit allows us to share the rich story of these brave women with our visitors. The flight nurses who served during World War II established a standard that continues today."

More information about this exhibit is available at

The opening of Winged Angels at the start of Women's History Month gives museum visitors another chance to see the contributions women have made to the Air Force over the years. Other museum exhibits focused specifically on women include the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) exhibit in the Air Power Gallery and a tribute dedicated to flight nurse Mary Spivak, which will be part of the renovated Korean War exhibit area.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free.

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