Friday, March 7, 2014
NORTH YARMOUTH — She was not yet 30 years old, living thousands of miles from home in a temporary city of olive-colored tents, caring for the wounded warriors flown in from the battlefield.
Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Pauline Young, a nurse in World War II and Korea, holds a photograph of herself in her dress uniform in 1942.
Pauline Young, a combat nurse in World War II and Korea, wears an oversized uniform while serving in Korea in 1951.
A rolling convoy to honor veterans of the Korean War from Yarmouth, North Yarmouth and Cumberland will make three stops on Monday, followed by a luncheon at the Amvets Hall on North Road in Yarmouth:
9:45 a.m.: Moss Side Cemetery, Cumberland
10:30 a.m.: Wescustogo Green, North Yarmouth
11:11 a.m.: Yarmouth Town Green, Yarmouth
Yet for Pauline Young, now 94, it was the moments of camaraderie, levity and tenderness that she remembers most from her years as a combat nurse in a MASH unit during the Korean War. And looking back on her time overseas, which also included service during World War II, Young said she would go back and do it again if she could.
“That was my work,” said Young, who lives in North Yarmouth. “I didn’t enjoy it because of the wounded, of course, but we were glad we were there.”
On Monday, Young will be among the handful of veterans participating in a three-town Veterans Day ceremony to honor the service of the millions of Americans and thousands of Mainers who served and fought in what has been called America’s “Forgotten War.” Veterans of the Korean War from Cumberland, Yarmouth and North Yarmouth will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the conflict, in which millions served and more than 54,000 died.
Roughly 5.7 million U.S. service members participated, including more than 40,000 Maine people who fought in the conflict. About 11,000 Korean War veterans still live in the state, said Peter Ogden, director of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services. They are mostly now in their 80s and 90s, and about 800 Korean War veterans in the state die each year, Ogden said.
A memorial convoy will carry more than 50 Korean War veterans in buses to sites in each town, before adjourning for a luncheon.
The service is the product of months of planning by a volunteer committee.
Cumberland resident Burt Kendall, who led the organizing committee, said that last year he realized the 60th anniversary of the armistice ending the Korean War was approaching this year, and began searching for a way to mark the anniversary.
Although the conflict – referred to as a “police action” and not an official war – was fought under the banner of the United Nations, the United States shouldered much of the burden, Kendall said.
The complex political relationships of the region became evident once the United States waded into the battle, he said.
“The U.S. had the wherewithal, after the horrors of WWII, to jump right back into the breach,” said Kendall, a retired city manager from New Jersey. “We were lucky we got an armistice when we did because it could have gone on forever.”
When he solidified the idea for the memorial service, Kendall – a Vietnam War veteran and commander of Legion Post 91 in Yarmouth – signed up two other local veterans groups, along with a Korean War veteran and a town official from each municipality.
They set out to identify Korean War veterans living in the area, eventually finding more than 50 who agreed to come for the three-part service.
Buses will ferry the elderly veterans in a convoy of vehicles through the towns, stopping for a brief service in each. The names of the deceased veterans from that area will be read by student volunteers, a total of 70 deceased veterans in all.
A major portion of the planning was to identify the remaining living veterans in the area from that era, including Young.
Although her recollection has become fuzzy, Young still remembers returning from service in World War II for less than a year before she got the notice to report for duty again.
“They got me again,” she said, laughing.
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Contributed Photo Pauline Young, a combat nurse in World War II and Korea, is shown with her nursing class in 1936. Young is the fifth from the left.
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Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer Pauline Young, a combat nurse in World War II and Korea, shares her experiences at her home.
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Pauline Young, a combat nurse in World War II and Korea, holds a photograph of herself in her dress uniform in 1942. To the left is friend and fellow veteran John Ames.
Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer