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"You have no idea what the GIs are like in a place like that. You got so that you didn't mention that you might want something, because if you did, you would get it." (Audio Interview, 32:10)

   Marion Anna Steinhilber
Collection image
Marion Steinhilber in New York City, en route to Atlantic City for basic training [1944]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Cold War
Branch: Army Nurse Corps; Army Nurse Corps
Service Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey; Fort Dix, New Jersey; Staten Island, New York; Karachi, Pakistan
Rank: Lieutenant
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Working in Buffalo, New York's Mercy Hospital in the fall of 1943, Marion Stenhilber was persuaded by a friend to visit the local Red Cross office one night after their shift concluded. Steinhilber wound up volunteering, while her friend decided against it. She was assigned to the women's ward of a hospital in Brooklyn, but she craved something stronger. Again, a friend intervened, signing them up for overseas duty. That put them in Calcutta, India, and from there she was off to several duty stations in the China-Burma-India Theater. She treated malaria patients, worked with soldiers who had been badly burned, and found she liked working in the operating room best of all. Most of the GIs were, if anything, overly solicitous of her needs for a touch of comfort and home.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (49 min.)
»Photo Album  (4 photos)
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»China, Burma, India
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Being volunteered for duty overseas; flying for the first time to go home to say goodbye; orders were for a temperate climate, which she figured would be Europe; went through Newfoundland, Morocco, Egypt, and landed in Calcutta. (05:32) Arriving in eastern India, about 50 miles from the Burmese border; chief nurse wasn't sure where to put them; sparse accommodations; having little water to work with; finding out there were no doctors to install IVs; many burn patients. (05:34) Giving anesthesia with no experience; isolated from Ledo; found that she enjoyed working in the operating room; praise for the doctors from the University of Pennsylvania; getting rest leave in Calcutta; she was there when she heard FDR died. (04:24)
Enjoying the different culture; having a reliable Indian work for her and her colleagues; taking atabrine to forestall malaria; it also proved good for dying curtains; unexpectedly putting on weight. (04:37) GIs being extremely solicitous of their needs; more praise for the doctors she worked with. (02:04) Maintaining friendships with four women she served with; keeping the married men at arm's length; they would take off their wedding rings but the tan line would reveal their status. (03:47)

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  October 26, 2011
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