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Elizabeth Kinzer O'Farrell

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Lieutenant Elizabeth Kinzer O'Farrell, USN (ret.) “is a retired Nurse/Physical Therapist who lives with her husband in Tallahassee, Florida. She is a writer and member of the local chapter of the World War II Historical Society and the Tallahassee Writers’ Association. Elizabeth grew up with six brothers, four of whom were also World War II veterans, and two sisters in a rural community ninety miles southwest of Chicago. She graduated from a local high school, LaSalle-Peru-Ogelsby Junior College in LaSalle, Illinois, and The Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago. After graduating from the School of Nursing in the fall of 1942, she joined the United States Navy Nurse Corps in 1943.


Elizabeth’s first duty assignment was at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Waukegan, Illinois. In 1944 she was transferred to the naval dispensary at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Glenview, Illinois. There she says she began to see what war was all about and what it meant to the eager young men preparing to fly planes that would be taking off and landing on a ship in unfriendly seas.


In 1945 Elizabeth was transferred to the U.S. Navy Hospital in St. Albans, New York, where she first learned to care for badly disabled young men being flown in from hospital ships and overseas treatment centers to stateside naval hospitals nearest to their homes. In 1946 the Navy assigned Elizabeth and fifteen other Navy nurses to the Baruch Center of Physical Medicine in Richmond, Virginia, for instruction and training as physical therapists. The program at the Baruch Center was a six-month crash course followed immediately by a six-month internship at a naval hospital under the supervision of a physiatrist.

WW II . . . A Navy Nurse Remembers
Elizabeth, Kinzer O'Farrell  More Info

Elizabeth graduated from the Physical Therapy course at the Baruch Center and took her internship at the Corona Naval Hospital in California. She says of her duty there, both as intern and graduate physical therapist, that she never worked harder or enjoyed her work more than she did the eighteen months she worked with the paralytic patients at the Corona Naval Hospital. In May 1948 she received orders to report for duty once again at the Great Lakes Naval Hospital, this time for duty as physio-therapist. Duty at Great Lakes proved not very challenging for Elizabeth, and she decided to resign her commission in 1950.” Lieutenant Elizabeth Kinzer O'Farrell is the author of WWII…A Navy Nurse Remembers.


The MOAA said of the book WWII…A Navy Nurse Remembers, “O'Farrell's memoir about her patients and service as a Navy Nurse/Physical Therapist during the seven plus years she served in the United States Navy Nurse Corps during and after WWII. The highlights of her nursing practice and career in the Navy was her work with the many navy and Marine Corps patients who had suffered severe spinal cord injuries resulting in paraplegic and quadriplegic paralyses. Helping such patients regain the will to live and to cope with their paralytic handicap was a challenge and was the highlight in her nursing career.”

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