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Lt. Elsie Ott’s Top Secret Mission

The WWII Flight Nurse Pioneer of Aeromedical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)

Jeffrey S. Copeland

218 pages
Paragon House

Lt. Elsie Ott's historic, top secret mission in January 1943 helped pave the way for dramatic changes in the way wounded an ill soldiers received vital care: aeromedical evacuation. Lt. Ott was given the task of transporting five critically ill and wounded patients from Karachi, India, to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. The mission unfolded over 13,000 miles and six and a half days by air transport, a journey that at the time normally would have averaged three and a half months by truck, ship, and train.

During the groundbreaking journey, Lt. Ott and her patients faced German Fighters, guerilla snipers, altitude challenges, logistical nightmares, and more. In the end, her efforts provided the foundation for a new "Flight Evacuation Nurse" program that sent hundreds of nurses to the air, saving the lives of thousands of soldiers the remainder of the war. For her bravery, determination, and courage, Lt. Ott was the first woman to be awarded the Army Air Medal.

The lessons learned at the time also helped establish aeromedical evacuation teams (today shortened to MEDEVAC) all over the globe, providing medical care and coverage that has saved millions of lives.

Author Bio
Jeffrey Copeland is Professor and Head of the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches children's and young adult literature courses and English Education. He has authored and edited over two dozen books, including Inman’s War: A Soldier’s Story of Life in a Colored Battalion in WWII, Olivia’s Story: The Conspiracy of Heroes Behind ‘Shelley V. Kraemer’, Shell Games: The Life and Times of Pearl McGill, Industrial Spy and Pioneer Labor Activist, Ain’t No Harm to Kill the Devil: The Life and Legend of John Fairfield, Abolitionist for Hire, Finding Fairfield, and Plague in Paradise: The Black Death in Los Angeles, 1924. He lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa.