Eighty years have passed since 97-year-old Stephenville resident Freyda Sherrill served as a nurse in the military, but the memories are still as vivid as the day she lived them.
Sherrill is originally from Iowa and as a young girl, she was fascinated with the idea of becoming a nurse.
“From the time I was a little girl, I had a grandmother who was crippled and I always played nurse with her,” she said.
When she graduated from high school, she entered a three-year nurses training course in Des Moines, Iowa.
As soon as she finished her training, World War II started.
“Here was a group of nurses ready to go into the business of some sort and immediately all branches of service swarmed our hospital trying to get nurses to sign up,” she said. “I immediately signed up for the military because my twin brother was already in the Air Force.”
Sherrill was sent to Tucson, Arizona to complete basic training and she remembers the heat.
“It was hotter than you-know-what with no air conditioning back then at all. There was one unit that had air conditioning and that was the Red Cross nurses, so we felt a little bit bitter toward them that they could have air conditioning and we were in the barracks like the other soldiers. It was so hot that when we weren’t on duty, we would put water on a big bath towel and then lay down and put that wet bath towel on us to keep us cool,” she said.
She was told to wait until permanent orders came through to find out where she would be stationed, but she never had to leave Arizona.
"Everybody that was in my unit got orders to go to different places but mine came through to stay right where I was. I never went overseas. I was issued uniforms to go to the pacific, but the war was over and I didn’t get to go,” she said.
She met her late husband, William M. Sherrill when she was crossing the street.
“William said, ‘You see that redhead crossing the street? I want to go on a date with her.’ The doctor he was talking to said, ‘I know her because I was an intern when she was graduating from nurses training. I’ll get you a date.’ So I went out on a blind date and ended up marrying him,” Sherrill said with a laugh.
She was a lieutenant at the time and the military had a rule that individuals were not allowed to date below their rank. Her husband, William, was a captain and surgeon who came from a family of doctors.
Sherrill grew up in a military family. Her uncle served in the Navy, her twin brother was in the Air Force, her younger brother served in Vietnam and her father served in World War I and World War II.
“My dad was so upset when World War II started because he had been in World War I and in France,” she said. “He went down and tried to enlist and the Army wouldn’t take him. They said, ‘You’re too old.’”
Sherrill has three sons, two of which served in the military as well.
“My oldest son Will Jr. is an orthopedic surgeon. He was in the Air Force. My second son Larry, he made the military a career; he stayed in for over 25 years. My youngest son Robert, he works with oil,” she said.
Sherrill served in the military from 1941-1943.
“I’ll never regret a minute that I served. I am proud to be a military nurse,” she said.
Sherrill moved to Stephenville from Houston in 1999. She currently resides at Good Tree Retirement.
“It’s an honor that I am still alive and that I can still serve in some capacity because as a nurse, I don’t think you ever get away from that feeling that you want to serve people. I’m very proud of my family who have served,” she said.