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US Army Nurse Corps

September 1, 1942

After Dolly became unemployed she decided to sign up as a volunteer in the army. On 1 Sept.1942 she enlisted in the United States Army Nurse Corps. Shortly after, she qualified for the Air Evacuation Nurse Corps.

Read the story: Overview >

By boat to Europe

July 16 - 27, 1943

Dolly received her diploma on Feb 18. 1943. She was assigned to 806th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron (806 MAES). On July 16, 1943 the unit sailed on the SS Thomas H. Barry and arrived in Liverpool on 27 July. From here, the unit was transferred to Newbury.

Read the story: Combat route (1) >

First evacuation flights

Omaha Beach, June 1944

On June 11, 1944, five days after D-Day, 806 MAES made the first evacuation flight to the beaches of Omaha Beach. In the following months Dolly and her fellow nurses evacuated tens of thousands of patients.

Read the story: Combat route (2) >

To the mainland

Orly, Paris, dec. 5, 1944

On 5 Dec. 806 MAES was transferred to mainland Europe, to the airport at Paris Orly Field. 806 MAES followed the advance of the allied troops and soon was transferred to airports in Villacoublay and Melun and later even to airports in Germany.

Read the story: Combat route (3) >

Married to Walter Shea

January 15, 1945

On January 15, 1945 Dolly married Major Walter L. Shea. Walter was a navigator in the air units where Dolly regularly worked. The marriage lasted only three months until Dolly's death. Shea never remarried.

Read the story: Personal file >

A mysterious accident

Eisenach, April 14, 1945

On April 14, 1945 Dolly had had her 30 'sorties', but she took one last evacuation flight in place of her colleague Dolores Dilger. This was fatal. The C-47 with Dolly (Wilma) and five crew members never arrived at its destination, but crashed on the way.

See Wilma's Combat route map >

Buried in Margraten

Margraten, June 24th 1945

After the accident all the crew were temporarily buried in Eisenach cemetery. In late June they were transferred to Margraten. After the war, Dolly's husband Walter L. Shea chose Margraten as her final resting place.

See Wilma's Combat route map >

July 1943 (?)

Registration ARC

September 1943

to the UK

July 16, 1944

Landing on Utah Beach

March 15, 1945

Siegfriedlinie

May 1, 1945

Died on pleasure flight

June 19, 1945

Buried in Margraten, Block RR, Row 12 Grave 290

November 23, 1943

Departure for Europa

January 20, 1944

Arriving in England

June 1944

Landing Omaha Beach

US enters the war

December 11, 1941

Nazi Germany declares war on the US

Turnaround WWII

Februari 2, 1943

Battle of Stalingrad: Red Army defeats Germans

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Wilma 'Dolly' Vinsant

Flight Nurse


Date to Europe: July 16, 1943
Start participation in the war: Around June 11,
1944
Army Unit: 806th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, (806th MAES)
Rank: 1ste Luitenant
Awards: Airmedal, Red Cross Medal, Purple Heart (posthumous),
special mention from President Harry Truman.

After Dolly became unemployed she decided to sign up as a volunteer in the military. On September 1, 1942 she enlisted in the United States Army Nurse Corps. and she became part of the Air Evacuation Nurse Corps.

Given her small stature, many thought that the training to become a Flight Nurse would be too rigorous for her. But Dolly surprised them all and graduated on February 18, 1943.
Shortly after, she was assigned to 806 Medical Air Evacuation Squadron (806 MAES).

On July 16, 1943, the unit left for Europe; she arrived in Liverpool on 27 July. They were stationed in Newbury, west of London.

Evacuation Flights as
flight nurse

"I will summon every resource to prevent
the triumph of death over life"

This is the opening sentence of the
professional oath of Flight Nurses.

The Flight Nurses , who were specially trained to carry out evacuation flights. The training was tough: she learned to jump into 6 meters of water with a full pack and swim back to land without assistance. They learned what to do in an emergency landing, wherever they might be in the world: in the jungle, in the desert, in the mountains or on ice. The nurses also learned to deal with stress when under fire.