Most of the stories about military personnel MIA - Missing in Action - are about men. One doesn't think of women in those terms. One family does and they were gracious enough to share that story .
2nd Lt. Eloise M. Richardson was born April 18, 1920, the second eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William F. and Cora (Corrigan) Richardson. Their home was in Marseilles (LaSalle County) Illinois. Eloise was graduated from Marseilles High School at the age of 17. She needed only three years of high school to earn her diploma.
Eloise had planned to attend Ryburn-King School of Nursing in Ottawa, Illinois but was forced to defer her plans until she met the age requirement of 18 years. She began her nursing training in February of the following year. Upon graduation from Ryburn-King, Eloise was on the nurses staff at the hospital and later did general duties at Cook county hospital in Chicago.
In 1942, Eloise enlisted in the Army with the 24th evacuation unit and received her basic training at Breckenridge, KY. She earned her gold wings from an air evacuation unit at Bowman Field, Kentucky in October, 1943.
In December of 1943, at age 23, 2nd Lieutenant Eloise Richardson transferred to the Army Air Force division of nurses. She came home on leave sometime around the first of November, 1943.
On March 8th of 1944, Eloise left San Francisco for overseas duty. She was stationed on Guadalcanal as a flight nurse. Flight nurses duties included removal of the wounded from combat areas by air. On the trip between the combat zone and the hospital behind the lines the flight nurse is in complete control of the C-47 hospital ships.
A WWII Flight Nurse tending wounded troops on board an air evac flight.
On May 18, 1944, Eloise was on a routine flight between the western coast of Bougainville and Guadalcanal. The plane was carrying wounded men including officers and parcels of mail. The plane never arrived at it's destination. No evidence of it's whereabouts has ever been recovered.
On May 19, 1945, one year and a day after her disappearance, Eloise was declared officially dead. In August of 1945, Eloise was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. The decoration was sent by Brig. Gen. Roland Walsh of the Philadelphia Quartermaster depot. The medal was received by her parents.
Lt. Eloise M. Richardson, N-731623, Army Nurse Corps, MIA May 18, 1944, FOD May 19, 1945, gave her life in service to her country.
Let history remember that women have served voluntarily since this nation began.
Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Foster of Marseilles, Illinois - Lt Richardson was Mrs. Foster's aunt.
Please note: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is displayed without profit or payment for those who have expressed an interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. Photos and images are from the National Archives, The Naval History Center, The U.S. Army, USMC, U.S. Navy, USAF, U.S. Coast Guard, the Defense Visual Information Center, The Army Nurse Corps, and the personal collections of this author. Nothing on this site is for sale nor is it a commercial venture of any kind - it is a one person page for, and about military women - by one retired military woman. Contents copyrighted 2000 by Captain Barbara A. Wilson, USAF (Ret).
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