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"It was a matter of finding the right button to push." (Video Interview, 24:04)

   Frances Louise Downing Donovan
Image of Frances Louise Downing Donovan
Frances Louise Donovan [2004]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Army
Unit: Army Nurse Corps; Air Force Nurse Corps
Service Location: Korea
Rank: First Lieutenant
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Frances L. Donovan served in the Army Nurse Corps and the Air Force Nurse Corps. She attended nursing school in Jacksonville, Florida and became a registered nurse. She became a 2nd Lieutenant after basic training. She was sent to Denver and Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, a tuberculosis hospital. The majority of her patients had contracted the disease from the Korean War. Dissatisfied with Army life, she got out of the service but a few years later enlisted in the Air Force, which she enjoyed for the travel. In France, she met an Air Force intelligence officer and they married. Donovan was discharged from the Air Force when she became pregnant.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (60 min.)
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»Korean War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
Received her commission as a 2nd Lieutenant coming out of a basic training in San Antonio; went to a local shop to be fitted with uniforms; celebrated with beers and dancing; still in touch with at least one woman she met in training. (02:22) First assignment after basic training: Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Denver; all tuberculosis patients; one patient describing how the only bath he had taken in Korea was in the Yalu River; many did not follow rules while in hospital; patients set up beds on a porch for visiting prostitutes. (03:10) Tuberculosis was contagious; not everyone cooperated about staying in bed; she used psychology to persuade patients to do the right thing. (02:43)
When she worked on the prison ward, some patients were sexually aggressive toward her; command structure in hospital; after she married, she got pregnant and had to leave the service immediately. (03:34) When she was in the Air Force, a fellow nurse arrived pregnant to an overseas location; not allowed to fraternize with patients or staff; she managed to date anyway; overseas, the nurses were all living on the base; sharing bachelors' quarters; harassed at times. (04:10) Supervising staff of male corpsmen and orderlies; tiring of military discipline and getting out of the Army; she left the Air Force involuntarily. (07:02)
Dating a guy whose parents didn't like Catholics (she was one); decided to join the Air Force; she liked it better than the Army; got to travel more, to Germany and France; dated and married an intelligence officer she outranked; leaving the Air Force; staying in France with her baby while her husband went off on assignment. (09:14)  
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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