It’s impossible to live as long as Gola Mealey has and not have some stories to tell. Some of the most memorable of her long life, she turned 102 on Friday, were also some of the most difficult. You see, soldiers weren’t the only ones in the U.S. Army to land on the beaches of Normandy during World War II. She was one of 500 nurses that made the trip too.
“You’ve seen pictures and heard stories about the ships and men in the water,” Mealey says.
As a Second Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps, she vividly remembers sleeping in temporary tents with mud-soaked boots.
“We moved our outfit seven times in the two years, almost three years I was over there,” Mealey says.
And although her memories of those times weren’t always happy ones, she thinks it’s important to tell those stories so we don’t forget about the sacrifices the often called “Greatest Generation” was willing to make for their country.
“Trash and bodies, it was an awful sight to see, but I guess it had to be done, seemed like it was the hard way to accomplish anything, but that’s the way it was,” she says.
After the war, she met and married her husband, who was also from Carthage. They moved to Burbank, California, where he worked for NBC for several years, before eventually coming back home to Southwest Missouri. He has since passed away.