Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Pearl Harbor Attack

On December 7, 1941, the Sunday-morning quiet of the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was shattered by dive-bombing Japanese fighter planes.

When the raid was over there were 2400 killed and 1100 injured.  They were sent to three army hospitals and two navy medical facilities. 

At Hickam Field there was a forty bed hospital with twenty five of the beds occupied before the raid.  The staff consisted of seven medical officer and seven nurses.  The only thing they could do after the raid was triage, stabilize and transport those likely to survive to Tripler General Hospital.  Tripler General Hospital had 450 beds at the time.  Schofield barracks had a hospital of several hundred beds. The Navy had the Naval Hospital Pearl Harbor which had 250 beds plus the hospital ship “USS Solace.”  With 1100 injured but still alive from the raid it sounds like there was adequate hospital beds but remember over 50 % of the beds were already occupied before the raid.

Scattered among the three Army Hospitals were 82 Army nurses.  The entire Army Nurse Corps listed fewer than 1,000 nurses on its rolls on 7 December 1941, the day of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.  One of those nurses that day was Delmar native Marion Jeannette “Jan” Roswell (1911-1988.)  Daughter of Paul Raymond Backus Roswell and Marion Edna Robbins Roswell, the family had moved from New York to Delmar about 1920.  Paul Roswell worked for the railroad and he had a big family.  Roswell kids would graduate Delmar Maryland High School from the 1920s thru the 1940s.    Jan Roswell graduated Delmar Maryland High School in 1929 and went to the University of Pennsylvania where she graduated Nursing school in 1933.  In 1939 she joined the Army as an army nurse.  Stationed at Walter Reed Hospital, in February of 1941, she was transferred to Hawaii.  Pre-World War Hawaii was considered, by Army Nurses, as the ultimate adventure assignment in a tropical paradise.

Leaving New York City on board the Army transport ship “Republic” the ship passed through the Panama Canal and arrived at Pearl Harbor on February 28th  .  Nurse Roswell was assigned to Tripler Army Hospital.

above the Republic 

In April of 1941 the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper ran a photo spread of Army Nurses at Tripler General Army hospital.  One of those photographs included Jan Roswell.

Jeannette Roswell is the nurse on the sofa to the far right and one of the few who was smiling.

At that time there were stringent rules for Army Nurses, one rule was they had to be single. Once they were married, they were out the service.   In 1942 Jan Roswell married Clemence “Toke” Paul Tokarz (1916-2011), an Army Air Force pilot.  She was out of the military.  Her husband remained in the Air Force and they traveled the world.  Eventually they settled in Tantallon, Maryland.  She is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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