Ruth Buckley enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps after graduating from the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing in 1940. Buckley was first stationed in North Africa, working in the pre-operation tent. She was exposed to the enormity of the war through her interaction with the young servicemen. “Suffering was written in every line of their tired faces and clenched teeth.”
On the way from Africa to Italy, her ship was sunk by a German bomber who ignored the giant red crosses painted on the vessel’s side and deck. Buckley and her fellow nurses took to the lifeboats and were picked up by a British destroyer. On a beach in Italy, another bomber dropped his payload in an effort to avoid a pursuing plane, and Buckley was severely wounded by shrapnel. After recovering, Buckley turned down offers to return to the United States, and instead went back to work in Italy.
Buckley and the 95th Evacuation Hospital followed the troops as the front line moved up through Italy, and into liberated France. Although her service as an Army nurse put her life in danger and meant witnessing the horrors of war first hand, Buckley had a great passion for the services she performed. “There were many compensations for the dangers I faced and chief among them was the privilege of serving our wounded… they are the grandest, gamest, finest soldiers in the world.”
We honor you, Ruth Buckley.