ND Army nurse recalls Japan, South Korea after atomic bombs dropped
World War II was on when, shortly after graduating from the Bismarck School of Nursing, Apalona Schaetzel, (later Apalona Kiser), of Hoople, N.D., volunteered to be an Army nurse.
Then the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan and the war ended.
Apalona was sent to a hospital unit in Seoul, South Korea.
On the flight to Seoul, her plane stopped for refueling in a Japanese city she could see was demolished. She was told it was one of the cities hit by an atomic bombs.
She's not sure which city it was, because today she's 97 and her memory isn't what it used to be.
This information comes to Neighbors from her son, Mike Kiser, of Ada, Minn.
"There must not have been much concern about nuclear contamination at that time (when his mother's plane landed in Japan)," Mike believes, given the fact her plane and others visited that city with little or no apparent safety precautions.
He adds that "Korea was effectively divided along the 38th parallel at the end of the war, and my mother said it was already a scary place with lots of border tension when she was there. This is interesting, because the border situation between North and South Korea is still a very scary place 71 years later."
The pictures shown here are Apalona's. They were taken some time prior to August 1946 near Seoul, probably at the Kimpo Air Base where she was stationed. Mike thinks they were taken at a church service in front of B-29 bombers, which possibly had been used in the air campaign against Japan.
At any rate, Apalona, who now is living in a nursing home in Park River, N.D., holds the distinction of being the last living World War II veteran from her home town of Hoople.
Some of you will remember the late Hildegarde (Usselman) Kraus, of Fargo, a longtime pianist for WDAY radio who was known as "The Incomparable Hildegarde" and who used to perform all over the area.
Today Neighbors is digging out a letter she sent this writer in 1985 following a note to her.
She said she was "so pleased to be remembered from the old WDAY days. I had 28 years of wonderful memories there."
Hildegarde also remarked about visiting New York City and finding "many people had no idea where North Dakota was."
That lack of knowledge about North Dakota still exists.
This writer was in South Carolina a while ago where, after eating in a restaurant, I was told by the young cashier that she could tell by my accent I wasn't from there.
"Where are you from?" she asked.
"North Dakota," I replied.
"Oh, North Dakota," she said thoughtfully. "Let's see—that's up near Michigan, isn't it?"
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 241-5487 or email email@example.com.