By Deborah Corteggiano Kennedy ’73
Oldest Living Female Survivor of Pearl Harbor Attack is CHH Class of 1935 Alumna
“December the 7th, 1941 was my first weekend alone.” Myrtle Miller Watson, a nurse and 1935 Church Home graduate, had arrived in Honolulu just three weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She was new to the orthopedic ward of Station Hospital at Schofield Barracks, and was on duty with only a skeleton crew that Sunday morning though she had never admitted a patient and did not even know where the supplies were kept. “As I walked from the barracks to the hospital, I was thinking, ‘I hope nothing unusual happens today that I can’t handle by myself.’”
That day, almost 3,000 were killed and 1,178 wounded as the Japanese attacked Oahu—first at Schofield Barracks and Wheeler Air Force Base, then moving to Pearl Harbor and Hickam Field, among other targets. At Schofield, the planes approached the hospital through a break in the mountains, so low that Watson could see the Japanese goggles and scarves the pilots wore. Someone shouted “Look out!” and pushed Watson out of the way, just in time to avoid a bullet that entered the door frame.
Soon after, a runner arrived at the hospital with instructions for Watson to set up the ward for incoming casualties and to discharge all patients who could walk and carry a rifle. She stayed on duty all day and well into the night, caring for patients as best she could with minimal personnel and supplies. She remembers many of her patients in detail, though it has been 65 years since that day.
“There was one young man, a nice-looking, clean-cut sergeant,” she recalls. “I saw by his eyes he was trying to get my attention. I went over and said, ‘Paul, what can I do for you?’ ‘My buddy, over there, my buddy needs you.’ And he was bleeding. He had bandages on chest and abdomen, and I tried to straighten his bed a little bit and make him as comfortable as I could. I couldn’t check the bleeding. I had no more dressings. I heard him whisper something. I put my ear up to his mouth and he said, ‘Who ever heard of a lieutenant wearing nail polish in the middle of a war?’” Watson laughs as she remembers.
“December the 6th, when I put the nail polish on, we were not at war, and it was just a pale pink. Anyway, I went over to see his buddy and I got some more admissions. And when I went back to him, he’d stopped breathing. I have never been able to put on nail polish since. I can see his face just as clearly as I can see yours….I couldn’t keep back the tears.”
Sixty-five years later, Watson sends money with friends and acquaintances who go to Hawaii and visit Pearl Harbor. “We used to throw a lei from shipboard on the Arizona into the water,” she says, “like we put flowers on a grave.” Today, visitors cannot throw a lei overboard, “so now I give money and have a flower thrown into the water in remembrance from me.”
Homecoming Celebrates 225 Years of Nursing Among Three Alumnae
For the second time, CHH alumni have joined Johns Hopkins as consortium members of the Homecoming celebration. The festivities were wonderful and if you missed it, you missed a very special weekend.
On Friday evening, three members of the Class of 1966 started their 40th celebration at the cocktail party and especially enjoyed seeing old friend and CHH Chief of Surgery, Jack Zimmerman, MD.
Tick Tock, What Do You Recall About This Clock?
Thomas “Gil” Whedbee, former President and CEO of Church Hospital, purchased this clock at auction after it had long hung in the Jessie Kendall Memorial Library in the School of Nursing. Mr. Whedbee has offered the clock to the Alumni Association to be a permanent part of the CHH archives. Perhaps someday it will hang in the new JHUSON building. Know something about its history? Contact Deb Kennedy.
Church Home alumni returning to school for higher education may obtain a copy of their transcript by contacting Chart One Storage. There is no fee for this service. When requesting your transcript, send your name as it appears on the transcript, Social Security number, date of birth, and date of graduation, along with your present name and address to: Chart One Storage, Attention: Aneise, 8246-C Sandy Court, Jessup, MD 20794. If you have any questions, contact Aneise at 1-800-733-2679 x5308.
In order to complete the CHH collection, we need yearbooks from 1961, 1962, 1963, & 1965. Please consider donating to the Archives.
To ensure everyone continues to receive mailings, please send any address or telephone changes or notice of deceased members to:
1990 Gulfstream Court
Forest Hill, MD 21050
Exact replicas of the CHH Pin in 14K gold can be obtained from Fino Jewelers for $250. Contact Mr. Vince Fino at 9650 Belair Road, Baltimore, MD 21236 or 410-256-9555 to place an order.
Jane Marks ’76 Receives National Award
On October 11, 2006, Jane Marks ’76 was honored as the National Nurse of the Year by the National Gerontological Nursing Association. Congratulations, Jane!
Margaret Hemp Flook, CHH’37
Ruth Harvey, CHH ’39
Margaret Sappington Braun, CHH ’42
Barbara Bohn Butterbaugh, CHH ’48
Nancy Kriz Dahl, CHH ’52