News Eagle Reporter
A young, 89-year-old Doris Martin, recently spoke of her time as a Navy nurse during World War II, where she helped wounded sailors through difficult times, while also interacting with corpsmen. Martin’s sister, Nellie Marsch, inspired Martin to join the service after nurses training. But Marsch was in the army for 27 years and fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Martin said she chose the navy “just to be different.” Although many women took jobs in factories during World War II, because Martin was a nurse, she decided to join the navy when she was 27. She trained in Newport, Rhode Island and later went to Port Smith, New Hampshire. Eventually Martin moved onto Philadelphia, which she said was “challenging” because sometimes she had four or five wards to take care of in the hospital with 40 patients, so she said, “you had to be on your toes”   Martin moved onto Paris Island and later Japan working wherever she was sent. Reminiscing, Martin told of a sergeant who gave her a whip because he thought Martin was fiercer than a drill sergeant when it came to weekly cleaning inspections in the hospital. From her point of view, Martin said while in the service she had a good time because of the people she met and things she did, like climbing Mount Fuji and having kamikaze pilots sing for her. The sailors that Martin saw tended to be recuperating, but her sister saw the soldiers who were hurt. Martin was primarily a supervisor who made rounds with the doctors, making orders to the corpsman who would bath the patients and help them with their treatments. When she did interact with sailors who had wounds she said it was “rough, you sympathized with them, you had to try to bring their spirits up” by joking with them because “they thought their lives were ruined.” The training she received was harder than she had anticipated because she did more than just nursing responsibilities since she had to clean corridors when patients left. Often on her hands and knees with steel wool, washing walls “as high as you could reach” she said, working from seven in the morning to seven at night. Martin had to patch gloves that were used for catheterizations. She said the cost of hospitals then was inexpensive because there was free labor.  Martin said the experience was, what she thought it would be, because of the training she received in Newport. When she went to Japan, Martin said she did not want to work in an operating room, but a chief nurse asked her to and as a result she met her husband who was an anesthesiologist. She said, “I’ll never forget it, we had quite a time and I wouldn’t change it for the world.” After Martin got married, she became a stay-at-home mom where she took care of her son Jeff. Her son would someday join the Navy too and later become a commander. After her husband passed, she went back to work, doing utilization review and infection control in hospitals. Today she lives in Ledgedale, in Wayne County. The biggest thing that Martin took away from her time in the service was that “you can be at odds with somebody,” but “after its over you could fraternize and be like civil human beings and still be nice.” Martin said she was never interested in fighting because she liked being a nurse. She said, “the satisfaction that you have made someone feel better…that to me is everything.” As for her overall life, Martin said, “it’s been a good one. I don’t regret anything; it’s been a long, long life.”