Veteran Stories:
Isobel Smith

Air Force

  • Mrs. Smith in March 2010.

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"I remember a young boy asking me to write a letter to his girlfriend. He’d lost his hands. And he just would not accept that he could be a functioning person without hands. And to this day, I really feel bad about it."

Transcript

I’ll tell you about how I got to be in the air force. I’ve got a very large mouth and I worked with a bunch of men. And I kept saying, if they take the girls, I’d go, I’d go. Because a lot of them were, well, they didn’t really want to go. I’m not saying they were scared or anything, they just wanted to finish what they were doing and then they’d go. So they told me. Well, then it came up, just before Christmas, that they were going to take girls. You knew who had to go. So I went. Well, they were short a cook the last day I applied and I went as a cook. I don’t know how to cook. I still am not a very good cook. But I filled his place until I could do something else. And I spent about two years. I kept saying “Aren’t you ever going to [have a need for] an X-ray person, aren’t you ever…”, then when they had it, I got pregnant. I went back to the hospital working but I never went back to X-ray. I remember a young boy asking me to write a letter to his girlfriend. He’d lost his hands. And he just would not accept that he could be a functioning person without hands. And to this day, I really feel bad about it. I wrote the letter and I put on the bottom that he was a wonderful person and I’m sure he could function without hands. They do so much now, but he committed suicide. That will always remain with me. I was what they call a nurse’s aide or something. I wasn’t very long because, as I said, I got pregnant. While I was in England, we were on what they called an air/sea base. And it was just about this big and we all knew each other and we knew that you didn’t walk any farther than there because that was where quite often a plane came in that was broken or they’d gone out and take the people up. But one day, this nurse and I went for a walk and I said, you know, I can hear a plane and she said, I think I can too but I can hear planes all day. And eventually, there was a plane came in. And half the station was down there to make sure he didn’t do anything wrong and we were up on the hill and this guy about this high got out of his plane and he stood there like this with a hanky up in front of him. And he wet his pants. He was just so scared. I don’t think that kid was over 17 years old. That I can remember. This German plane and a German pilot. He was sure we were going to kill him. But he was such a little boy. Thank God I was going home.
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