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


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


Wilma 'Dolly' Vinsant

Flight Nurse

Born: February 20, 1917
Location: San Benito, Cameron County, Texas
Education & profession:
Dolly trained as a nurse
at the John Sealy Hospital
in Galveston.

Wilma was the only child of William J. Vinsant & Nellie M. Benson. From her childhood she was nicknamed 'Dolly' because of her small stature.

On January 15, 1945 Dolly married Major Walter L. Shea. The marriage lasted only three months due to Dolly's premature death. Shea would never remarry.

Flight Attendant
Braniff Airways

Dolly grew up in the 20s and 30s
of the last century. Aviation was booming and Dolly followed closely the life of one of the female pioneers - Amelia Earhart - with interest.

After Dolly had completed her training, she decided to combine her professional training as a nurse with her interest in flying and joined Braniff Airways. At that time flight attendants were also required to be qualified nurses. In 1937, 800 women applied at Braniff Airways and only 10 were accepted.
Dolly was one of those lucky ones. After the United States became involved in World War II, the government requisitioned almost all aircraft of private airlines including Braniff Airways.
Many pilots and flight attendants such as Dolly were