Recognizing Liberty

“Many of them flew long hours ferrying wounded, in unarmed aircraft often in enemy air space.” — Mary Lofstrom,  Society of Air Force Nurses.

A local newspaper heralded the news:  Three former Air Force flight nurses were honored Wednesday for their service in ceremonies at the Tides, the Patrick Air Force Base Non-Commissioned Officers Club here on Florida’s Space Coast.

The Non-Commissioned Officers Association presented its “Legacy Medallion” to retired Lt. Col. Barbara Carson and former Lt. Pat Courtney, both of Vero Beach, and former Lt. Liberty Sakryd of Merritt Island.  The NCOA created the medal in conjunction with the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.  It originally was intended for enlisted personnel, but the association included the nurses to thank them for their devotion and service.

Lt. Liberty Lee Sakryd, 1944

My friend Jo Anne invited me to attend this very special event:

“Recently we were informed that Liberty (aka Mom) has been selected by the Military Flight Nurses Association to receive the WWII Veteran’s Honor and Remembrance Legacy Medallion (along with two others) in May. There are so few military women still living that joined the military services in WWII, that the Flight Nurses Association decided it was long overdue to honor these women and give them the medal they deserve for their dedicated services during the war.  We met with the two organizers yesterday morning to go over old photos and get the specifics on military records for the upcoming presentation at Patrick AFB…”

Nurse Liberty

Liberty graduated in 1939 from Jefferson Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago where she received her diploma and was licensed to practice as a professional registered nurse.  She began her military career on March 25, 1942 as a 2nd Lieutenant, and her first duty assignment was at Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco. Three months later, she was assigned to Camp Stoneman in Pittsburg (CA) to help open a Port of Embarkation Station Hospital.  In June 1943, Lt. Sakryd was selected for an assignment in aeromedical evacuation.  She transferred to Bowman Field, Kentucky to the School of Air Evacuation where she was in the 12th graduating class.

2nd Lt. Liberty Sakryd (left) and fellow military nurses at the "Garden of Eden" women's latrine.

She was then posted to Hickam Field, Hawaii where she was assigned to aeromedical evacuation throughout the Southwestern Pacific region where she helped evacuate our wounded GIs from the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa, and the many islands in the region.  While at Hickam, she was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.  Lt. Liberty Sakryd separated from the USANC on Christmas Day, 1945.  I was delighted to be present to witness Liberty Lee Sakryd receive the Non-Commissioned Officer Association World War II Legacy Medallion.

1st Lt. Liberty Sakryd

Two more women are honored for their service with WWII Veteran’s Honor and Remembrance Legacy Medallion.

Lt. Eudora "Pat" Hatton Courtney, 1944

Lt. Eudora “Pat” Hatton Courtney served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps from February 9, 1944 when she was sworn in as a 2nd Lieutenant at Johnson City, NY until she resigned October 13, 1945 as a 1st Lieutenant.

In April 1945, Lt. Hatton was assigned to Fort Dix, NJ for flight nurse duties with the 830th Medical Evacuation Squadron. Lt. Hatton was honored to accompany the remains of Corporal Donald R. McKenzie who had been killed in a plane crash.  His young wife and two-month-old son were also under her care on their long train ride from Westover AFB to Spokane, WA.  Lt. Hatton stayed with the family through the funeral.

Lt. Hatton separated from the U.S. Army on October 15, 1945.

“It is a bit of a shock to receive an award after 65 years,” she said, “a real surprise.”

Barbara Helen Carson

Barbara Helen Carson is a 1943 graduate of the Roosevelt Hospital School of Nursing in New York City.  In 1944 she was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was assigned to Scott Field in Illinois. After attending Flight School in 1944, she received an overseas assignment in 1945 to the 801st Military Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.  Carson, a veteran of more than 22 years of service, flew with patients during World War II and Korea.

She traveled in a military convoy and 30 days later reached Manila and then Leyte in the Philippines where the 801st was based. The mission – to fly to the island to bring the wounded to Clark Field where the Air Transport Command would then fly them stateside.  She flew patients between the Philippine Islands and New Guinea. After Japan surrendered, she helped carry American prisoners of war from Japan to Manila.

“They were not in real good shape,” she remembered.

In 1949 she was recalled to flight nurse duty in support of the Korean Conflict.  In 1951, Barbara became certified as a Registered Nurse Anesthetist.

She subsequently earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing Education.

From that time until her retirement in 1966, Barbara practiced in the field of anesthesiology, where her assignments took her to Japan, Germany, and Hawaii.  She retired as a Lt. Colonel.

Lt. Col. Barbara Helen Carson

Congratulations to all three women who have served our country well.  We thank them for their service.  And the memories. And a special thanks to Jo Anne for giving me the opportunity to meet three amazing women who wore our nation’s uniform.

To see more photos and read Florida TODAY’s account of Wednesday’s awards ceremony, click here.

Categorized as Military

By Radiopatriot

Retired Talk Radio Host, Retired TV reporter/anchor, Retired Aerospace Public Relations Mgr, Retired Newspaper Columnist, Political Activist * Telegram/Radiopatriot * Telegram/Andrea Shea King Gettr/radiopatriot * TRUTHsocial/Radiopatriot


  1. Andrea it was absolutely wonderful that you covered this story presenting these courageous and honorable women receiving the Legacy Medallions. It truly is an honor to have had such patriotic and brave women serving our country in uniform over a half a century ago. These women were Way Before Their Time. It is sad that the news media doesn’t give any time or merit to those deserving recognition for their dedication to our country.

    1. I’m delighted that they are now being recognized and honored — before it’s too late.

  2. What I meant was she was Way Ahead Of Her Time, but I am sure you knew what I meant. LOL

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