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USAFSAM training allows others to follow in footsteps of legendary WWII flight nurse

  • Published
  • By Kim Bowden
  • 711th Human Performance Wing
One of the most celebrated flight nurses of World War II, 1st Lt. Aleda E. Lutz flew 196 missions and evacuated more than 3,500 soldiers.

Lutz enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps on Feb. 10, 1942, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. After volunteering for and completing a rigorous training program, Lutz joined an elite two percent of World War II nurses who were qualified flight nurses. On Dec. 17, 1943, she was promoted to first lieutenant and was transferred to the 802nd Medical Air Evacuation Transportation Squadron of the 12th United States Army Air Forces, the first to depart for overseas duty.

In November 1944, during an evacuation flight from the front lines near Lyons, Italy, her C-47 crashed, killing all aboard and making Lutz the first American woman casualty of World War II. At the time of her death, Lutz was considered the most experienced flight nurse in the U.S. military service. She had the most evacuation sorties (196), most combat hours flown by any flight nurse (814), and the most patients transported by any flight nurse (3,500+). Lutz was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters and -- for her “superior professional skill and courage” and her “selfless devotion to duty and outstanding proficiency” -- posthumously received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Lutz’s dedication to service and care, including her willingness to endure perilous conditions for the sake of her patients, made her a legend of en route care. Her efforts in the field of flight nursing also make Lutz a fitting exemplar of the United States School of Aerospace Medicine -- part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing here. As part of its vision to be a global leader in aerospace and operational medicine, the School continues to train the Aleda Lutz’s of the future, enabling a new generations of flight nurses to do what Lutz was called to do more than 70 years ago.

To mark a century of operation, USAFSAM will celebrate throughout 2018. The year will include special heritage events as well as a monthly article highlighting a key “exemplar” from the School’s rich history.