I had to read about the female nurses described in We Band Of Angels whose dedication and drive prompted them to join the military and seek adventure during the war in the Pacific. The book marshaled an immense amount of information in an informative, yet entertaining manner. By using the nurses’ journal entries, the author highlighted the experiences of several women who worked as nurses on Bataan and were then held as prisoners of war. The horrors of war were especially clear to me when a bombing interrupted one journal entry. More importantly, the stories in this book dispel any notion that nurses aren’t in the line of fire or aren’t a real part of the war effort. They are.
We Band Of Angels focused on four main events, all of which created a complete story of the courageous women. First, the author discussed how the women arrived in the Pacific and their work as nurses. Their daily struggles were very interesting and showed their devotion to the job. At one point, the women set up a hospital in the jungle with beds scattered among trees below the monkeys that played in them. Then, the author described the army’s surrendered and how the women were captured. I was most impacted by the photograph of the bed sheet the nurses signed just before they were taken away in an effort to make their presence known in case the worst happened. Only a small portion of the story focused on the time the women spent in the POW camp, but it was enough to realize they faced the same issues as their male counterparts: malnutrition, disease, and the struggle to live in captivity. My only issue with the book was that I never really connected with any of the women. No individual woman was highlighted long enough for me to develop any special interest.
The book concluded by showing the honors the women received once they arrived home and the memorials and museums dedicated to them. I was impressed and grateful to the women for challenging social norms by being such integral members of America’s armed forces. This inspirational story was a perfect start to the Memorial Day weekend.