Navy nurse dedicated life to career
Posted November 11, 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — For 36 years, retired U.S. Navy nurse Ruby Brooks patched up the wounded – first as staff nurse, then a surgical nurse.
World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War kept her very busy and very focused.
"You are so focused on the needs you have to provide to care for the patients that you don't have time to think about the blood and gore you see in a surgical procedure," she said.
Brooks' career began after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, when the U.S. government issued a call for volunteers. She chose to enlist in the Navy.
After World War II, the country's attention shifted to Korea. Brooks missed the Navy, and the Navy missed her.
"I got this big brown envelope from the Navy, and it said, 'Our dear Ms. Brooks, we want you back,'" she said. "And I said, 'I'll be there,' back with the Navy Nurse Corp."
Korea actually prepared her for Vietnam.
In 1954, Brooks served on an American hospital ship treating the wounded from the French Foreign Legion injured in the early fighting in southeast Asia.
She didn't speak French. Her patients spoke no English. It didn't matter.
"Even though we couldn't communicate in words, you could always communicate with a smile," Brooks said.
Now, Brooks lives at Springmoor Retirement Community in Raleigh. She left the Navy for good 25 years ago.
For her life, her career and her chance to serve, she says she is most grateful.
"I believe in a sovereign God, and God directed my career, and that's why I feel so blessed with this wonderful career," she said.