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National Education Center

Japanese American Health Care Workers During WWII

Army Nurse Corps

Over 50,000 women served in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) during WWII. Those in the ANC already were nurses prior to joining. They had about 4 weeks of basic training including physical training, learning military customs and care of military equipment and uniforms.

The ANC was closed to Japanese American nurses at the start of the war and opened enlistment to Japanese Americans in February of 1943. Only a handful of Japanese American women served in the ANC and they were not assigned overseas.

Masako “Mary” Yamada

“[I joined the ANC] because to me it was just an extension of what I was doing every day. I never gave a second thought about going in. I went because I wanted to go.”

-Kaoru Morita Ehara, Cadet Nurse Corps

Masako “Mary” Yamada served as a First Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) during WWII. Born in Los Angeles, CA, she later relocated to New York, NY. Yamada graduated from Bellevue School of Nursing prior to her military service.

She volunteered for the ANC the day after Pearl Harbor, but was rejected. Yamada was determined and wrote letters over several years to the Army expressing her desire to join the ANC. After years of diligent efforts, she was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March of 1945. Yamada attended basic training at Fort Dix in New Jersey before being assigned to Halloran General Hospital in Staten Island and later Tilton General Hospital in New Jersey. She served multiple roles in the ANC, including hospital ward instructor. Despite many attempts, Yamada never served overseas.

Mary Yamada, 2003
Jump to: 12 minutes 16 seconds

You can watch Mary Yamada’s full oral history as part of GFBNEC’s Hanashi Oral History Collection here.

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