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.
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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) >
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.
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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.
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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.
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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 >
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 >
to the UK
Landing on Utah Beach
Died on pleasure flight
Buried in Margraten, Block RR, Row 12 Grave 290
Air Evac. Nurse diploma
Body washed up
Departure for Europa
Arriving in England
Landing Omaha Beach
Germany invades Poland, Britain
and France declare war on Germany
Nazi Germany declares war on the US
Battle of Stalingrad: Red Army defeats Germans
|Name:||Wilma 'Dolly' Vinsant|
|Born:||February 20, 1917|
|Died:||April 14, 1945, 28 years|
|Rank & Military
|1st Lieutenant, Flight Nurse,
806 Medical Air Evacuation Squadron
|Cemetary:||Block B, row 17, grave 4|
Wilma "Dolly Vinsant was raised in Texas. She studied to be a nurse and worked as a flight attendant for Braniff Airways. When WW2 broke out she volunteered for the army.
She became aflight nurse and between June 1944 and April 1945 was on 30 missions which evacuated hundreds of wounded soldiers. Always with the risk of being shot herself ...
On April 14, 1945 something went wrong: a last - voluntary - flight was fatal. The cause of the crash has still not been clarified to this day.
"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
Amelia Earhart flew in the 30s and was the first woman in the world to cross the Atlantic and the Pacific. She became a celebrity. Her books were bestsellers. She was a great role model for many women. Also for Dolly. Following her hero's example she went to work as a flight attendant. Her training as a nurse was important, because at that time attendants were required to have a nursing degree.
""Please understand that I am well aware of the risks. I want to do this. Women must try things just as men. When they fail, this is only a challenge for others . " - Amelia Earhart, '38