WW II Veteran: Josephine Bonesio Hinman
- 1st Lieutenant, U. S. Army: Nurse Corp
- Active Service: April 1945 - August 1946
- Overseas: August 1945 - July 1946 (Pacific Campaign: Philippines & Japan)
- 60th & 314th General Hospital; 360th & 376th Station Hospital
- General Duty Nurse; Occupational Therapy Nurse; Charge Nurse, Surgical Ward
Excerpted from stories told to Bill Newman, Commander of VFW Post #3272.
Like so many people, I remember where I was standing when I heard the United States was bombed in Pearl Harbor and we were in the war. Most of us didn’t even know where Pearl Harbor was, but we soon learned. I was just getting ready to graduate from nursing school at New Britain General Hospital. One day the Hartford Courant headline said they were going to enlist nurses. I had already been offered a full scholarship to Columbia University to teach nurses, but I turned it down to enlist in the Army Nurse Corps – a decision that I have never regretted.
After basic, we were sent to Fort Jackson and awaited orders from Washington. In a few weeks we proceeded to Brooklyn and boarded a hospital ship that had just brought home many wounded soldiers. We went through the Panama Canal and continued on a 39-day voyage in the Pacific. We saw terrible devastation at Pearl Harbor – our first realization of the horrors of war.
As our trip proceeded, the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – and soon after that, all the bombing stopped. We thought we were going to turn around, but we continued on to Manila in the Philippines. Our first night there, a monsoon hit off Manila Bay and everything was soaked – mattresses were dripping wet, lizards and snakes were swimming through the barracks.
Finally we were assigned to a hospital – a converted former Catholic school. The nurses we came to relieve were so happy to see us – they could now go home. They had seen the worst of the injuries. We worked 12-hour shifts – 0700 to 1900 or 1900 to 0700.
We were in Manila for five months and then went to Japan. We saw the terrible devastation at Nagasaki – the area was barren land like a desert.
The hospital had boys with psychotic problems. There were also some Japanese POWs there. I had the night supervisor position at the hospital and with the blackout still in effect, it made making rounds a scary chore. I could always hear shooting off in the distance. It was what they called guerrilla warfare.
We were located in Tachikawa and we were attached to the Air Force. We went to a leprosy colony – these people were so ill and the disease just wasted away their bodies.
When I got home, I volunteered to work at the Avon Boy’s School with blinded soldiers. This was probably the saddest of all my experiences.
I also met and married Donald Hinman of Collinsville. He had flown 51 bombing missions in the ETO as a Navigator on a B-24. We had four wonderful children and a wonderful life.
For her service during World War II, Josephine Bonesio Hinman received the following commendations: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; Army of Occupation Medal (Japan); WWII Victory Medal; Meritorious Service Unit Plaque.
Here’s the Deal
Special thanks to Bill Newman, Post Commander for Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, for providing this information on Josephine Bonesio Hinman. Mr. Newman encourages veterans to contact his organization to continue to pass along their stories.