Tuskegee Airmen were not the only ones making Black history during World War II
Pia Marie Winters Jordan is the project director of the Tuskegee Army Nurses Project and continues to work on a multimedia documentary on the Army Nurse Corps members who served with the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Jordan retired in 2018 as an associate professor in the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.
A scrapbook can tell us much about a person’s life or one period of someone’s life: joys and sorrows, challenges and successes, problems and solutions. Memories of a Tuskegee Airmen Nurse and Her Military Sisters focuses on a four-year period from 1942 to 1946 during World War II when up to twenty-eight women from the Army Nurse Corps staffed the station hospital on the base where the future Tuskegee Airmen were undergoing basic and advanced pilot training. These women were African Americans, graduates of nursing schools throughout the country, registered nurses, and lieutenants in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. They were military officers, and the pilot cadets saluted them.
Pia Marie Winters Jordan’s mother was one of those angels of mercy. Her mother, the former first lieutenant Louise Lomax, did not talk much about her ten years of military nursing, but nonetheless, her Tuskegee Army Flying School scrapbook told a story. Although Jordan may have seen this scrapbook when she was much younger, only when her mother became ill and had to be cared for in a nursing home, did Jordan, Louise’s only child, take a closer look, as she began organizing belongings in the process of closing her mother’s apartment. Jordan saw that the Tuskegee Airmen were not the only ones making Black history during World War II; nurses also had to fight gender as well as racial discrimination. Through her research, she found out more about them. It was time for their story to be told.
“Jordan highlights the role of Black women as World War II military officers, a subject that has long been neglected. Her description of individual Tuskegee Airmen nurses reminds readers that the story of World War II was about not just groups but individuals, each one with her own story, each as concerned with equal rights and opportunities as any of the other Tuskegee Airmen, and each dedicated to victory for the United States over its enemies and the enemies of freedom.”
—Daniel Haulman, retired USAF historian and author of The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History