July 7, 1943
If only the plane would keep flying over the Atlantic and straight back to Virginia where Georgie belonged.
Flight nurse Lt. Georgiana Taylor spun her gaze from the khaki landscape below to the interior of the C-47 cargo plane. More khaki. And olive drab. And aluminum.
Six canvas litters suspended on aluminum racks. Twelve canvas seats. Eighteen patients in khaki and olive drab. This plane needed a little magenta or tangerine or violet.
Georgie strolled to the front of the plane. She might be the only color in the lives of these poor wounded soldiers, so she'd shine as brightly as possible.
"Good afternoon, gentlemen. I hope you're enjoying your flight." She looked into each patient's face long enough to make him feel cared for, but not long enough to give him the wrong idea about her. "We'll land in Casablanca in an hour. Sergeant Jacoby and I will make one last round. If y'all need anything, please let us know."
A corporal raised his hand and a mischievous smile. "I need Ingrid Bergman to meet me at the airport in Casablanca and kiss me hello like she kissed Bogart good-bye."
--On Distant Shores, 9
Music is so much a part of our hearts. It can bring back memories that escape remembrance of words spoken as clearly. I am reminded of Hutch and his telescope as he shared the heavens with us.
I think back to the times I doubted my skills as a flight nurse. Lieutenant Georgie Blake. I followed my friend, Rose Danilovich, to nursing school. We had always been friends and leaving our hometown seemed like the the simple and right thing to do ~ together. Easy for others to make decisions for me ~ my sweet Daddy and Mama, my fiance Ward, although Ward never really asked me. Nine years we just drifted along together with his dream of his white fences and orchard, and me to tend them ~ Ward, our home, our future children....
In the busyness of moving injured patients from the field to the infirmaries, our medical air evacuation teams are stationed around the Mediterranean Sea. Within days we move between Foch Field in Tunisia to Ponte Olivo Airfield in Sicily. I meet Hutch ~ Sgt. John Hutchinson ~ in Sicily at the 93rd Evacuation Hospital as we take med crates for pharmacy from Tunisia. Although a pharmacist stateside, in the Army Air Forces, his position is as a noncommissioned serviceman. Hutch has been reporting his experiences back to his father who is working with the American Pharmaceutical Association in hopes of President Roosevelt signing the bill in favor of The Pharmacy Corps. This would enable the soldier on the front receiving the same quality care available at home. As it was, few mobile hospitals had a pharmacist on staff. Few, if any, had the experience beyond the training manuals. When this went through, Hutch would become a pharmacy officer, and, importantly, the profession would be recognized. The job of Pharmacist required a college degree but not a commission.
|See MAPS for detailed, interactive maps of Italy, Sicily, and North Africa with historical photos at sarahsundin.com|
Hutch and I begin talking as I wait for the aspirin he is compounding on base; extra for us to take back to Ponte Olivo and the hospitals in Tunisia. I ask him about home and he tells me about his fiancée, Phyllis Chilton, and the many letters awaiting him over the past two and a half years. With both of us being engaged, we will be able to have a friendship not hampered by emotion. Hutch encourages me to think for myself and make my own decisions, leaning on God's wisdom and what He has for me, instead of following along with what those who know me declare is the way I should go and plans I should make. After a disastrous accident, our teams are sent for R&R and further training. Kay and Mellie come home with me. We go to flight school for further applications now that we have experienced being evac flight nurses. I do rely on strength growing to decide. I deliver a package for Hutch to his fiancée and have a decision for her to make too. In seeking God's peace, I have found my own.
I liked the detail of Sarah Sundin's novel. Several things I noted ~ one being V-mail, that the mail could be photocopied stateside, shipped overseas on microfilm and reprinted one-fourth size and delivered. This left more room on the cargo for supplies, weapons, and the troops. Writing just-in-case letters to be delivered should they become a casualty of war. To have a personal letter to family and friends would be cherished and a place of closure. Worshiping together they had the same status, whether commissioned or noncommissioned, until they parted. I liked the addition of Lucia, the injured Italian child. This made the story come alive, as children of war and attachment to servicemen who gave them medical care and the attention they had not come to depend upon.
Sarah Sundin is the author of With Every Letter and the Wings of Glory series. The Wings of Glory series (A Distant Melody, A Memory Between Us, and Blue Skies Tomorrow) follows three brothers who are B-17 bomber pilots during World War II. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. sarahsundin.com
Wings of the Nightingale Series: In this series from Revell, three World War II flight nurses discover friendship, love, and peril in the skies and on the shores of the Mediterranean.
Book 1 ~ With Every Letter, September 2012
As part of a morale-building program, World War II flight nurse Lt. Mellie Blake begins an anonymous correspondence with Army engineer Lt. Tom MacGilliver in North Africa. As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, they develop a deep friendship. But when they're both transferred to Algeria, will their future be held hostage by the past—or will they reveal their identities?
Book 2 ~ On Distant Shores, August 2013
Homesick flight nurse Lt. Georgie Taylor arrives in Sicily and strikes up a friendship with Sgt. John Hutchinson, who longs to become one of the Army's first pharmacy officers. When Georgie and Hutch's lives back home fall apart, can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?
Book 3 ~ In Perfect Time, August 2014
Flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, but C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper is immune to her charms. Throughout Italy and southern France, as she evacuates the wounded and he delivers paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them where they don't want to go.
***Thank you to Litfuse Publicity Group for having a copy of Sarah Sundin's On Distant Shores sent to me. Receiving it the last evening of the book tour, I am submitting my review written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***