Fallen Heroes: 2nd Lieutenant Clara A. Young

US Army Nurses entraining at Cp. Kilmer, Stelton, New Jersey

Not surprisingly, given the nature of warfare in the past, the majority of fallen heroes are young men. There are, however, examples where servicewomen find themselves on or near the front lines, or in roles that put their lives in danger. In the case of this fallen hero, though she prepared and trained for service on the front lines, she died a mere two hours from home.

The Young family arrived in Pennsylvania when Christopher Young (c. 1815-bef. 1870) immigrated from Ireland with his family in 1860. The Young’s gradually worked their way westward, following established railroad routes, until settling in the region northwest of the City of Pittsburgh. One son, John Young (1848-1911), settled in New Castle, Pennsylvania where he worked for the railroad. John married Mary Shelley (1857-1946) in 1879 and began working as a Engineer on the railroad shortly afterwards.

John and Mary had seven children and the oldest, Joseph Young (1880-1953), followed in his father’s footsteps and worked for the railroad. Joseph, while employed as a clerk with the railroad, married Mary Kearns in 1903 in New Castle, Pennsylvania. John and Mary raised six children at their home in New Castle before Joseph took a job as railroad yard master in Dover, Ohio in 1930. The Young family, including Joseph’s mother, moved from Pennsylvania to a home on North Wooster Avenue in Dover.

Clara Young’s senior class picture in the 1927 New Castle High School yearbook. (Source: ancestry.com)

Right around the time that the Young family made its move to Dover from New Castle, their daughter Clara Young (1908-1945) was completing her training at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Pittsburgh to become a registered nurse. After completing her training, which allowed her to work in Ohio as well, Clara moved in with her parents and began working both as a private nurse and as a nurse at Dover’s Union Hospital. She worked at the hospital and joined local social and professional organizations throughout the 1930s. Clara, perhaps sensing that America’s involvement in World War Two was inevitable, enlisted in the United States Army Nurses Corps in September 1941.

Clara was sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison, outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, for her initial training before being assigned to the United States Army’s 12th Field Hospital. Training and preparations for the 12th Field Hospital took place at Camp Bowie, located outside Brownwood, Texas. Following the training and organization that took place at Camp Bowie, the 12th Field Hospital was sent to California for final training and preparations for eventual overseas service. Service that Clara would never see.

While training in California, Clara injured her knee and was transported to Valley Forge Pennsylvania for treatment. Her injury prevented her from rejoining the 12th Field Hospital and she was eventually promoted to a supervisory role at the hospital in Valley Forge. Her knee had healed, but she began showing signs of the illness that would ultimately take her life. She was sent to Walter Reed Hospital so that she could receive appropriate treatment for her ailment. After receiving what treatment they could offer, Clara was transported to Crile Military Hospital outside Cleveland where she could be closer to her family.

2nd Lieutenant Clara A. Young had been diagnosed with cancer in her lower intestines, a cancer that made it almost impossible for her to eat and retain nourishment. She had volunteered to nurse and care for those serving their country but would never have the opportunity. Clara succumbed to her cancer on February 25, 1945 and was buried with full military honors at St. Joseph’s Calvary Cemetery in Dover.

2nd Lieutenant Clara A. Young’s grave marker at St. Joseph’s Calvary Cemetery, Dover. (Source: findagrave.com)

For more information on the 12th Field Hospital, visit: https://www.med-dept.com/unit-histories/12th-field-hospital/

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.


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