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Historical

WWII Nurse Recalls Treating POWs: I'd Whisper In Their Ear "You're Safe Now, You're Home"

Peggy Bergthold, 93-year-old WWII veteran, served as an operating room nurse at Mare Island Naval Hospital during the war. Here, she recalls the words she would whisper to wounded POWs arriving in her hospital following their release from captivity by the Japanese.

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"I would look at them and these great big eyes would look up at you and I'd say you're safe now, you're home and I'm gonna take care of you."

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Photo Credits : (GettyImages)
Fox Photos Hulton Archive Arthur Tanner Tunbridge-Sedgwick Pictorial Press Reg Speller
TRANSCRIPT This transcript was generated by AudioBurst technologies

These American prisoners who had been POWs in Japan, some of them for three or four years, they're released and sent back to the States and they come to your hospital. - That's right, they were sent to Seattle, ours and San Diego. They were divided. And then they would come in and all you'd see are these big, great big eyes and I would whisper in their ear, because you see they were in, they had to be in dirty surgery. - And explain to us what dirty surgery means. - That means that they had gangrene or something like that, or infection. - Which was pretty common in that population for what they'd been through. Malnourished, basically almost starved to death, many of them did die in captivity and if they were still alive they had a lot of different conditions. - That's right and I would look at them and these great big eyes would look up at you and I'd say, you're safe now, you're home and I'm gonna take care of you. I still remember. And they'd look at you and a great big smile would come on their face.