Editor’s note: much of this story is taken from an interview with Sally as part of an Oral History Project for the Admiral Nimitz Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.  The interview was conducted by Floyd Cox on 24-APR 2000.  Other portions of this story is excerpted from, We Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. Norman, copyright 1999.

Ethel “Sally Blaine, In Her Own Words

Sally was born in Bible Grove, Missouri on 19-FEB 1915.  Her father was William Blaine (1850-1914) and her mother was Sindarilla Stice (1848-1920).  Bible Grove is an unincorporated community in Mount Pleasant Township, Scotland County, in Northern Missouri.  Ethel lived in Mount Pleasant through 1930 according to the U.S. Census.

Sally was the 10th of 13 children. She had six brothers: Otis, Oren, Cecil, Carl, Mayhue, and Millard; and seven sisters: Celia, Bess, Jessie, Agatha, Madeline, and Maxine.

Sally graduated from Bible Grove high school in 1933 and immediately entered nursing school because, it was the only option available to a young woman in that time and place for getting away from home.  She graduated from nursing school in San Diego, Calif in 1939.  In November 1940, she entered the US Army at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco.

Sally recalled, “at the hospital, there was a constant list for volunteers willing to go to the Philippines.  Three times this list went up and it was right there in the hall where we went up to our rooms at night.  And every time I saw that list, I put my name on the list.  I had noticed there was always a pencil hanging there but the last time there was no pencil, so I signed my name with a pen, and it stood out and looked like a ‘John Hancock signature.’  The chief nurse called me in and said, ‘you want to go to the Philippines?’  I said, ‘yes I do.’  She said, ‘do you have any idea of what it is like over there?’ I said, ‘not really.’   She said, ‘honey, you’re going to have to work very hard if you go to the Philippines.’  I said to her, ‘has anyone told you I was lazy?’  She said, ‘no, I just want to assure you it’s not going to be easy if you go over there.’  She had served in the Philippines and knew it wouldn’t be easy.

Sally continued, “they were building up the Army in the Philippines and sending out a couple of ships per week.  I went out the end of May; it was 17 days on the ship to the Philippines.  I was happy to go.  I was delighted!  I was told later after I got home in 1945, in the 5th grade I told everyone I was going to go to the Philippines.  I don’t remember saying that but apparently, I read about it somewhere.  I remember reading after 1948 they wouldn’t be under our flag, so I decided I wanted to go.  So, I did go when we were in control, but it turned out we were only in control for about six months. When I got there, I was immediately sent to Stotsenberg Hospital at Clark Field in Luzon, the Philippines in June 1941.

“Stotsenberg was like a picnic.  It was the old regime still in full force.  At 6:00 in the evening all women had to be in long dresses and men had to be in white uniforms their formal attire.  In November, a lot of men began coming in and I noticed the men never bothered to get white uniforms.  Even I was smart enough to know something was stirring up.  But nothing was ever said to us, we were never briefed what we were to do in the event of war.  Not one word was ever said about it (the buildup).  We talked about the buildup only the last time when we were having an alert.  I asked our chief nurse if it wouldn’t be a good idea to get some heavy clothing together in case we were sent to Manila and had to bivouac on the way down.  She was from Canada and said, ‘we will do no such thing without orders from headquarters.’  Sally said, ‘the first orders we got from any headquarters was from the Japanese headquarters that we are being bombed.’  That was December 8th, 1941.  I had been gone all that weekend.  I was in my bed asleep from midnight until 6:00 AM.  I was in Manila and rode a train back to Stotsenberg.  I was tired.  One of the nurses came in and said, ‘Sally, get up.  Pearl Harbor has been bombed.’ 

Sally and the nurses in the Philippines would soon become the first American nurses to serve on a battlefield.

For the rest of her story, click on the link below.


Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at sccvetsmuseum@gmail.com or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.