Lt. Henrietta RichardsonPosted: November 24, 2011
Taken from the Baer Field Beacon, Indianapolis Indiana 1944
The big Western Air Lines plane taxied up to the runway at the Salt Lake City Municipal Airport and stopped to unload. After the last passenger had filed out of the door, the stewardess in a trim, gray uniform stepped out with the pilot and copilot and walked towards the operations office to check in the flight.
A year later, another plane landed in an airport near Oran. The passengers of this ship didn’t walk down a little flight of steps though. They were carried out on stretchers. Directing the operation was that same Western Airlines stewardess, except that she now wore the uniform of a 2nd lieutenant in the Army Nurses Corps. It’s a long way from Salt Lake City to Oran, but Flight Nurse Henrietta Richardson made the trip with poise.
Married to a Regular Army infantry officer, now a prisoner in the Philippines, Lt. Richardson has been in the Army two years. She put a lot of flying time with Western on her trips from Salt Lake City to Canada during the two years she was a stewardess.
After training at a number of bases and the School of Air Evacuation, Lt. Richardson went to North Africa with a group of 25 nurses in February, 1943. Her outfit was based in Algiers and flew to Tunisia and the back to Oran and Casablanca. They were in the air every day during the Tunisian campaign, taking British, American, German and Italian patients from evacuation hospitals back to larger installations.
Carrying litter patients in a C-47 is a lot different than carrying passengers in a luxurious airliner, but one thing was the same in both instances—everyone kidded with the lieutenant. The first thing the wounded GIs wanted to do when they got into the plane and were made comfortable was to talk about the States. Then they wanted to show off the pictures in their wallets. After that came the teasing of the flight nurse; the same teasing that marks the American soldier from every other man in uniform.
Lt. Richardson didn’t see any combat action in any of her trips, but she did see a lot of North Africa. In June, 1943, she was returned to the U.S. suffering from undulant fever. As the first air evacuation nurse to come back to this country, Lt. Richardson was a featured speaker at the New York Herald Tribune forum where she shared the platform with such notables as Paul De Kruif, Roy F. Hendrickson and Dr. Irving Langmuir.
The lieutenant has been at Baer Field since Sept, 1943. She doesn’t like publicity and when Cpl. Sherman Scott, BEACON lensman told her that her picture was going to be taken for a BEACON cover, she was a little leery about the whole deal. We think the cover speaks for itself.