The excerpt below is from a story that appeared in the June 1945 issue of Reader's Digest, condensed from an article that appeared in The World Catholic. The author, Lt. Doris Schwartz, Army Nurse Corps, was stationed at the Army Hospital at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York, where wounded arrived from Europe by plane for treatment.
"The boys usually come in from overseas dirty, in need of a shave, and with a thin protective air of toughness to cover their pain and the emotion of being back home again. But our latest batch is different. They are a lovable lot, but oh, so very young . . .
These are frightened, homesick children, startled by the suddenness of it all, facing pain for the first time and failing miserably in their pathetic attempts to do it nonchalantly. These are the boys who only a year or two ago were playing at 'soldiers' . . . Again and again [the surgeon] asks, 'How old are you, son?' 'Nineteen, sir.' 'Nineteen.' 'Nineteen.' How long were you in combat?' 'One day, sir.' 'Just a week.'
A boy from Georgia, forcing a matter-of-fact expression as he indicates to his shattered feet, says: 'Reckon they'll have to come off, don't you, sir?' The surgeon doesn't answer for a moment and then puts his arm gently around the boy's shoulders. 'You knew that, didn't you?' he asks, and the boy nods violently and turns and smothers his sobs with a pillow."
Lt. Doris Schwartz, ANC, "Letters from a Hospital," The Reader's Digest, June, 1945, 3-4.