Veteran Salute: Woman starts lifelong career in nursing serving in the Korean War

Veteran Salute

Military service is a family legacy for today’s Veteran Salute. 

An early calling led her to serve her country and raise a family.

Patty Herron came from a family of 17 kids, meaning she had 16 brothers and sisters.  

Seven of them would serve their country including Patty.  

She says serving in the military came easy for her because her area of service was the answer to her life’s calling.

“My two older sisters called me Nursie because I wanted to take care of my brother Vernon who hurt his leg,” smiles Patty.

Patty says she knew at age 4 she wanted to be a nurse. 

She got her training at Saint Francis Nursing School in Wichita and soon the Korean War started.  

An older brother shared the idea of being a nurse in the military.

“I looked around and decided that the Air Force fit my personality better so I joined the Air Force,” explains Patty.

The military was short of nurses so Patty skipped basic training and went to New Mexico. 

But she had a strong desire to go overseas.  

She got her chance when she cared for a Colonel.

“My Corpsman said, ‘Lieutenant how should we treat him?’ I said we’re going to ignore him, make sure he has fresh water, fresh linens, he has his own shower and bath if he needs us he knows where we are,” says Patty.

Three days later that Colonel went looking for Patty to thank her for the best rest he’d ever had in his life.

“‘If you could go, where would you like to go?,’  I said Europe sounds good. 6-8 weeks later I had orders for Wiesbaden, Germany,” says Patty.

Patty worked the isolation wing of the hospital there and saw everything from hepatitis to gangrene and whooping cough.  

She also got to see a little of Italy and France.  

But after 15 months she came home to the news her brother Daniel was killed in a plane crash in Alaska.  

A few years later Patty was back at it serving as one of only two women in the Kansas Air Guard.

She says, “It felt like I was doing some good for the country and for myself.”

Patty got married in 1966 and had a son and daughter.  

Sadly her husband passed away in 1969.  

She never remarried and raised her family as a single mother.  

She continued her work as a nurse, getting an early attack started on prescription drugs when she started reducing her patients opioid doses.

“He said ‘I’m so glad you’re back, I want to thank you for getting me off the drugs!’  So I continued that the rest of my career trying to keep people not addicted,” says Patty.

Patty says she always enjoyed her work as a nurse, both while serving her country and in the private sector.  

Now her daughter is also a nurse.  

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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