Service and Death

In 1939 Europe was again swept into a second world war. By 1942 all the great powers and most of the smaller nations of the world were involved in the most destructive war in history.

With a background in flying and nursing, Dolly Vinsant combined her skills to qualify for the carefully chosen Air Evacuation Nurses corps.

Friends were apprehensive the petite, young women would never pass the requirements to become a flight nurse. However, what she lacked in stature, she possessed in spunk.

Photo By Stefanie and Samantha

Photo by Stefanie & Samantha

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She completed the rigorous training and graduated from the first fight nurse class of the Army Air Corps School of Air Evacatuion at Bowman Fields Ky.,1943. Stationed in England, Miss Vinsant spent the next 2 years in the mist of combat. Her work involved flying wounded soldiers from the battle fields to hospitals behind the lines. She served in the most dangerous situations. Some flights were to the front lines Near Munich and Frankfort.

Although she experienced a lot of sadness working with suffering patients, her life was brightened by a young Air Force Navigator from Bronx, N.Y. and on Jan.16, 1945, Dolly Vinsant and Major Walter Shea were married with hope that the war would soon end. Shortly after becoming Mrs. Shea, she was promoted to First Lieutenant.

Ironically the young nurse had completed her flight quota, but her sense of responsibility toward injured men convinced the commander to allow one more trip. He objected saying, "But this is going to be the last one." And it was. She was killed in an action over Germany, April 14,1945. Her patriotism earned her an Air Medal, Red Cross Medal, a special Citation from President Harry Truman and the Purple Heart.

According to the Army and Navy Register, Lt. Shea was one of the three fatalities among the Army Nurse Corps known to be the direct result of enemy action in the Europen conflict. She is the only woman in the U.Ss to be buried in the Military Cemetery in Margraten, Holland.