D-Day Memorial Honors Flight Nurses
Reporter: Lauren Compton | Videographer: Ira Quillen
Bedford, VA - Several people gathered at the National D-Day Memorial Monday to honor those who are currently serving or have served our country.
The D-Day Memorial also took time to honor some little known heroes, the flight nurses who took care of the wounded during World War II and put their lives on the line to save others.
During WWII, 500 flight nurses were trained to assist with air evacuations. The D-Day Memorial took time to honor their service through one special lady and a new plaque.
When many women were getting married or having babies during the war, Evelyn Kowalchuk was headed to war.
"I said as long as they volunteered or enlisting to help get democracy and freedom the least we could do was go and take care of them. That's the way we all felt," said Kowalchuk.
Against her mother's wishes, Kowalchuk was part of the first round of flight nurses trained to serve in the United States Army Air Forces. She says she sometimes was the worst of war.
"I can tell you that we saw such terrible injuries," she said.
Their service is now memorialized with a new plaque at the D-Day Memorial.
"They started training these nurses to go into very difficult terrain where they needed to evacuate soldiers quickly and by air. We thought that's a part of the story that needed to be told," said April Cheek-Messier, V.P. for Operations and Education -
Kowalchuk represented those brave nurses and received a copy of the plaque from Congressman Robert Hurt.
"What it means to me..is memories. I wish some of the nurses that perished in that war were here," said Kowalchuk.
"We've been here for the groundbreaking ceremony and the Arch dedication. And in 2001 with the president of the United States my mother escorted him, so this is a like a homecoming," said Peter Kowalchuk, Evelyn's son.
It was a homecoming and a honor that moved Kowalchuk to tears.
"I'm sorry that I can't talk when I cry, but they are tears of happiness, not of sadness," she said.
On June 6 there will be another special memorial as the D-Day Memorial takes time to honor the 68th anniversary of D-Day. Get more information about the event.