March is Women’s History Month. In addition, the Department of Defense is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, one the great historical events of American history. Within the U.S. military, World War II made the nurse an indispensable aspect of battlefield medical care.One of the infrequently recognized sacrifices of Army nurses was the time spent as prisoners of war in the Philippines. During the siege and occupation of the Philippines, Army Nurses showed their grit and courage. Some 60 nurses ended up as POWs.Throughout 1941, the United States had deployed additional troops in the Philippines to be prepared for potential threats. The number of Army nurses stationed on the islands grew to more than 100. Most of the nurses worked at Sternberg General Hospital in Manila or seven miles away at Fort McKinley. About five nurses worked on the island of Corregidor.The Japanese attacked the Philippines on Dec. 8, 1941. The result was a large number of casualties, and the small staff was swamped. By late December, the nurses received orders to evacuate to Manila. Japanese forces had landed on the island of Luzon and closed in on Manila. All of the nurses stationed outside of Manila were taken prisoner by the Japanese.Gen. Douglas MacArthur ordered the nurses to the island of Corregidor. He planned to hold Corregidor and the Bataan Peninsula and wait for reinforcements.Nurses on Corregidor and Bataan helped set up two emergency hospitals for U.S. and Filipino forces—General Hospitals 1 and 2.More than 1,200 battle casualties requiring major surgery — head, chest, and abdominal wounds and amputations — were admitted to General Hospital 1 within a month.General Hospital 2 was on a river out in the open, with no tents or buildings, under a canopy of trees. Here, the nurses worked for several months into 1942.The Japanese bombed General Hospital 1 on March 29 killing or wounding more than 100 patients. The nurses carried on.With each passing week, the number of patients increased, supplies decreased, and patients became more susceptible to malaria, dysentery, and other tropical diseases. By the end of March 1942, hospitals that were barely set up to handle 1,000 patients had more than 5,000 each.In early April 1942, the Army evacuated its nurses to Malinta Tunnel Hospital on Corregidor. Even though U.S. and Filipino forces on Bataan surrendered, Japanese pilots continued to bomb Bataan for weeks following the surrender.One nurse described the Malinta Tunnel Hospital as “pretty ghastly.” The bombs sent shock waves through the ground, filling the tunnel with dust and dirt. The nurses never knew when they would be plunged into total darkness. The crowded tunnel hospital grew from 500 beds to 1,000.A handful of nurses were able to evacuate to Australia. In late April 1942, 20 nurses left Corregidor on two Navy planes. One reached Australia, but the second had to land on Mindanao Lake; all aboard were taken prisoner. In early May, one submarine picked up 10 Army nurses and one Navy nurse and took them to Australia. The Army on Corregidor surrendered several days later; 55 Army nurses were still at Malinta Hospital caring for the wounded.In July, the Japanese took the nurses to Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila where they joined the 10 nurses whose plane had made a forced landing on Mindanao Lake. The 67 nurses remained POWs until U.S. troops liberated them in February 1945.This story tells the strength and resilience of the Army nurses in the Philippines.It was their grit, determination, intelligence, and commitment that proved that women can step up and do the job — no matter how dangerous or difficult that job may be.As the war continued, shortages of manpower had to be supplemented by woman-power everywhere. Very soon, women were ferrying bombers across the Atlantic, manning lathes and welding equipment in defense plants, and manning the home front.Today, women in the military handle virtually all missions — doing every job, every day, everywhere.It was the Army Nurse Corps leading the way for women to fill every job today.