HUNTERSVILLE – In 1944, Jean Moore was 24 years old and finishing nursing school. It became her life’s mission to help the soldiers fighting on the frontlines of World War II.
For Moore, nursing always came naturally. She wanted to be a nurse since she was a child, and with the fighting in Europe continuing, she knew she would be needed.
She spent six weeks at Fort Devens in Massachusetts during the summer of 1944 for basic training. Moore lived in barracks with her fellow nurses.Each morning, Moore and the rest of the nurses met on a large field for physical training similar to the routines soldiers completed in basic training.
“That was the hottest summer I ever had,” Moore recalled.
But other than sweltering heat, the women were treated to dances and social events with soldiers on the base.
Having to follow the same stringent rules that male soldiers followed, the nurses had to pass living quarter tests each day, and Moore can recall a time when her bed missed the mark, keeping her on base on a day when she was supposed to go into Boston to do some shopping with her friends.
“I failed the quarter-test,” Moore said.
Once her six-week training was up, she was sent to Tuscaloosa, Ala. When she and several of her colleagues reached the train station, they felt completely out of place. The small-town world of Tuscaloosa was much different than the world she left behind in Massachusetts.
“I can only imagine what the other riders thought,” Moore laughed. “You just see this whole bunch of nurses (at the train station) just standing there, not knowing where to go.”
She lived at the hospital and worked mostly with psychiatric patients.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Moore said. “We just worked long hours.”
On a typical day, Moore took care of 25 patients, many whom were recovering from plastic surgery to repair battle wounds.
Once her orders at Northington were completed, she was sent to Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Miss. The highlights at Camp Shelby include many dances and social gatherings that the activity director planned.
“I think that was one of our best times,” Moore said.
As the war was winding down, Moore was sent to a medical ward in Memphis, Tenn., where she met her husband, John, who had been fighting the Japanese. Deciding to get married after only knowing each other three months, Moore had to ask to be discharged from service, because when women got married, they were forced to leave their position. Once married, Moore continued to be a nurse until her son, John, was born.
Today, Moore lives in Huntersville where she gets frequent visits from her son and her two grandsons, Wes and Brad.