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World War II Veteran: Ruth Miller

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Time Frame: ca. 1940's

After being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Ruth Miller was assigned to the 110th Evacuation Hospital and sent to Europe in 1944. The 110th's job was to set up near the battle front, bandage wounded soldiers, and, if necessary, perform surgery. After treatment the soldiers would be transported to hospitals farther from the battle.
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Ruth Miller, formerly Ruth Smith, a 22 year old nurse from Marshalltown, had joined the Army in May of 1943.

(Ruth Miller) Then the more we heard about the war, I began to think that maybe it would be a good place to be involved—and do my part.

After being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Miller was assigned to the 110th Evacuation Hospital and sent to Europe. The 110th's job was to set up near the battle front, bandage wounded soldiers, and, if necessary, perform surgery. After treatment the soldiers would be transported to hospitals farther from the battle.

The 110th went to England in June of 1944. Miller's first assignment was the Penicillin Team. At the time, Penicillin was a new miracle drug that had to be mixed just before use.

(Ruth Miller) We just went around every four hours, and if they were sleeping, we had to wake them up. And the boys said—we’d almost rather go back and face a German than you people coming around stabbing us every four hours, but it saved so many lives and it was good.

In one last attempt to get Allied Forces out of Europe Adolf Hitler ordered his Army to counterattack in December of 1944. During this last desperate move, the German Army pushed 60 miles into Allied territory. The assault became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The name was given to this pivotal encounter because the front line looked like a bulge on battlefield maps. Earlier, during the month of September, the 110th Evacuation Hospital moved to Luxembourg and set up a field hospital in the town of Esch. Ruth Miller, unaware of the events unfolding nearby, was preparing for a New Year's Eve party along with other nurses from the 110th. As the men were brought in, Miller's belief that her work involved more than just the treatment of physical wounds was reinforced.

(Ruth Miller) They were so happy to see somebody from home, from America, and it boosted their morale and—that we were there to take care of them, and I’m sure it made them think of their own, girlfriends and wives and mothers, ya know, too. And it was just a really good feeling to know that you were there to help them out and try and boost their morale, because what they went through, suffering was awful. They say war is hell, but I say it’s devastating, it’s cruel, just terrible.

 


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