January 22, 2017
It was her friend Virginia Hemmi, a fellow nurse, who first told me about Connie’s life. Virginia spoke of “My friend, the war hero, Connie Majors.” Connie was a nurse who served in WWII. She accompanied the troops under fire on the front line in North Africa, Italy, France and finally in Germany.
When I met her a few weeks later, I encountered a gentle person of small stature. She was caring for a lady recovering from some medical procedure or surgery. Connie had a sweet laugh and big expressive eyes. She was a delight to know.
Later, as I got to know Connie better, I realized I could ask questions about her experiences. Over the years she put together a folder of personal pictures and magazine articles that explained her experience of the events of WWII. She used this folder as an outline for presentations to high school students and adult groups. Connie was an expressive speaker who spoke simply, sincerely and at times humorously.
Connie told me her story in detail. She explained that she was born near Chicago and raised a Catholic. She had attended nursing school and received her cap. Soon after that, her brother had entered the military. She felt she should do something as well to support her country. Against the advice of her friends, she went to the recruitment center and applied to enter as a nurse in the US Army.
They interviewed her and then checked her health records. During the examination, it was found that she only weighed 95 pounds! The Red Cross standard was that she must weigh 115 to enter military service. She was told if she wanted to be in the service she would need to weigh 115 pounds. If she wanted to gain weight, it was suggested that she eat bananas and drink water. So she went home and ate bananas and drank water for two weeks or so.
When she returned for the next examination, she still weighed only 95 pounds! The physician asked her why she wanted to enter the military so much. She said that her brother was abroad, and she wanted to be as well. The physician said, “You won’t see your brother!” Connie responded, “But I’ll see someone’s brother.” That response tells you of her sincerity and charity.
The doctor then “gave her the pounds” she needed on the form, and she was in the Army. She delayed her entry to see her brother get his “wings” in the Air Force. She then began her training.
During the first weeks of training, Connie remembers that they were marching in the cold wind off Lake Michigan. The drill sergeant corrected them as they were not marching properly. Connie remembered thinking “Who is that dumb person who doesn’t know their right from their left?” She suddenly realized that she was the one leading the group, and she was taking the wrong steps!
Connie said that if the recruits had continued following her lead, they would have ended up in Lake Michigan!