World War II Veteran
Marcella R. Ryan LeBeau
Wigmuke Waste Win (Pretty Rainbow Woman)
Branch of Service: United States Army Nurse Corps
Entered: Palm Springs, CA April 14, 1943,
Appointed Reserve Nurse Army Nurse Corps, 2nd Lt.
Left: February 17, 1946 – separation on 6 month Reserve status
1st Lt. Army Nurse Corps
As a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, a Lakota of the Two Kettle Band, I served in the United States Army Nurse Corps and retired as Director of Nursing from Indian Health Service, Eagle Butte, SD after thirty-one years.
During WWII, I served in Wales, England, France and Belgium. In Leominster, England we took care of D-Day causalities. In August 1944, we crossed the English Channel taking several days due to the inclement weather. We climbed down a rope ladder into a landing barge. Camping temporally in a cow pasture in the Carentan area, a french lady served us a banquet with white linens. For the first time since the war began, with tears streaming down her face, she was able to sing the French National Anthem. After Paris, France, we took assignment at the 76th General Hospital in Liege, Belgium. It was a 1000-bed tent hospital on a hill, overlooking Liege, Belgium. My ward was the first ward: A-1 surgical ward staffed by myself, another nurse and two corpsmen.
We had buzz bombs coming over night and day. On June 8, 1945, a buzz bomb hit the tent where the night shift of military police were preparing for bed. Twenty-five military police were killed. One was reported missing in action. After the war, we saw a map where it recorded 3000 buzz bombs hit the Liege area.
• I had worked my tour of night duty on a shock ward and was headed for my tent in the nurses quarters. I was met by a nurse who was crying, saying, “It’s awful,” as she explained what she had seen. She said. “don’t go there, get some sleep, they will need you tonight.” I took her advice. That night, we had several patients admitted to the shock ward who had survived the bomb attack.
After the war, my daughter, Kathy and I went to Liege, Belgium, looking for the plaque in memoriam to the twenty-five military police from the 76th General Hospital. We took the train from Paris, France to Liege. At an information counter at the train station, I explained what we wanted to see. As we stood there explaining, a man came up to me. He said, “Lady, because of you, we are free! Thank you,” when he turned and left.
A lady arose from a bench near us and offered to take us wherever we wanted to go. She first took us to her home and onto the Henry Chapelle Military Cemetery. It was there, we saw a log with the names of all who were buried there. We found the names of the 76th General Hospital military police who were killed on June 8, 1945. Most of the men had been repatriated to the USA by the next of kin.
I took care of casualties from three campaigns: African-Middle East, Rhineland and Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge.) We received three battles stars for the three campaigns and a medal of honor from the Belgium Government.
Other related service awards: In 2004, Paris, France, the French Government, awarded 100 American Veterans the French Legion of Honor, the highest decoration bestowed in France for the veterans service to the French people during WWII. We were guests of the French Government at the Normandy Beaches for WWII ceremonies. I was privileged to be among those receiving the French Legion of Honor. For the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we attended both ceremonies at Omaha Beach and Utah Beach, where I received a round encapsulated sand in glass memento from Utah Beach with engraving stating their thanks for our service during WWII. South Dakota honored us with the Honor Flight to Washington, DC and the viewing of the WWII Memorial. Due to the SD Honor Flight, I have been invited and have attended two honor luncheons in Rapid City. In 2014, Mayo Clinic staff invited me to speak at the Veteran’s Day Event held each November.
I am proud to be a member of Post #308, Eagle Butte, SD
It has been my great honor and privilege to serve as a nurse caring for in WWII veterans. Veterans are my heroes.