06 November 2008

Bethune One of Four Military Ladies Aboard 2nd Honor Flight Fayette Recent Trip to Washington

Pictured (l-r) are Hope Davis, Naval Reserve Nurse Corp; Helen Denton, Women's Air Corp; Jeannette Bethune, Army Nurse Corp; Miriam Lloyd, Women's Air Corp.

Imagine what a mother would feel when her 3 youngest children entered the military during World War II, especially when one of those was a daughter who finished nursing school as an RN in December of 1941 and entered the Army Nurse Corps 2 months later in February of 1942.

Jeannette Porter was the young daughter who hoped she would receive an overseas assignment, but instead she served her country in New Hampshire caring for those who had been to foreign lands and returned with injuries. However, Jeannette said she is very thankful and feels blessed to have been able to serve in a nursing capacity because she wanted to help the war effort.

Jeannette's two brothers in the military were definitely in harms way as one landed at Utah Beach and the other at Omaha Beach. She made it a habit to check each medical flight that arrived to make sure one of her brothers was not among the injured.

During that time Jeannette met Ray Bethune who was flying B-25's and looking for submarines off the U.S. shores. They dated but, at that time, women in the military could not be married. Ray was sent overseas to fly B-17's and B-24's and was consequently shot at 3 times over Germany. Twice he managed to make it to France and once he landed in England near the White Cliffs of Dover.

Jeannette left the military in November of 1944 and she and Ray married in May of 1945. They had a daughter and a son, and when Ray passed away 10 years ago they had been happily married for 55 years.

Unfortunately, Jeannette was one of those left homeless by Katrina, but she rebuilt and repaired her home of 35 years. Her daughter, however, convinced her to move to Atlanta to live with her so Jeannette made another home here and is also closer to her son and his family in Florida.

She has 3 grandchildren of whom she is very proud. She quickly tells you one is a nurse, one is in Africa working with missionaries and one just finished high school.

When talking to Jeannette, it is very easy to see how she would have been such a comfort to those she nursed during war time as she has a very friendly and caring demeanor and it is obvious that she loves people. Conversation comes easily to her, but she also listens carefully as you speak.

When asked what she enjoyed the most about her day with Honor Flight Fayette on October 8th to see the World War II memorial, Jeannette stated that absolutely everything was wonderful and that it was a very special day that she never dared hope to have at her age. She also said the memorial brought back memories that were happy and sad, but that she felt so blessed to be there and wishes she could make that same trip again.

Honor Flight Fayette will take off again on November 12th for the 3rd flight this year to the nation's capitol. In all, over 200 World War II veterans will have made this trip during 2008.

Led by President Gail Sparrow, a retired Fayette county teacher, Honor Flight Fayette is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to take as many of our World War II veterans to see their memorial as possible. Time is of the essence as, unfortunately, we are losing 1,400 veterans of that war per day in this country.

If you would like more information or would like to volunteer or contribute to this most worthwhile cause, please contact honorflightfayette.com or call 770-719-1024.

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