Today in 1921, Carmen Romero Phillips was born. She fulfilled her dream of becoming a nurse, but war gave her work more significance than she ever imagined.
A special series
During my time as a contributing editor to the magnificent Voces Oral History Project at the University of Texas at Austin, I came across some amazing stories. The project, which I celebrated in 2011, collects the stories of Latino veterans and civilians who saw and felt the effects of war, from World War II to Vietnam. This occasional series highlights a few of these fascinating lives.
Carmen Romero Phillips, born on Jan. 19, 1921, was recruited as a military nurse even before she graduated from nursing school in 1943, and she was so good that her boss, an Air Force surgeon at her posting in California, requested her by name.
She served through 1945, caring mostly for wounded troops from the Pacific Theater. She also joined the Red Cross. In 1946, she moved to Corpus Christi to start a new nursing job, met her future husband, and settled in the Texas coastal city, eventually marrying and raising four children.
She never lost her determination to help wherever she could. On Sept. 11, 2001, when she was 83, she called the local Red Cross chapter and volunteered to help one more time.