Linda Konover Meirs
Submitted by: Ann Meirs Honadle Van Hise
Linda Konover Meirs served in World War 1 with the Red Cross. The dates of service are: Known 1916-1919.
Linda Konover Meirs (1884-1972) grew up in Allentown, NJ and obtained her nursing education at the Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing and the Mayo Clinic. As a member of the American Red Cross Nurse Corps, she rode with General John Pershing in pursuit of Pancho Villa.
In August of 1916 she was sent with the first American Red Cross Relief Delegation on the USS Mercy Hospital Ship to the European War Zone.
In 1917 she was given a commission to Romania, where she spent a brutal winter. June of the next year, she was assigned chief nurse of Hospital #23, Jouy-sur-Morin, France, where, according to a report from the front, Nurse Meirs "won conspicuous recognition for bravery under fire." She had an old chateau converted into a field hospital, where they received wounded soldiers directly from the front. This was the first of her hospitals to be bombed by air.
Medical care had to advance with the fighting. Chief Nurse Meirs (nicknamed "the Colonel" by her corpsmen) of the American Expeditionary Force went on to head Hospital #111/Chateau Thierry, Evacuation Hospital #114/Toul, Hospital #107/Jouy-sur-Morin and Mobil Hospital #39.
Miss Julia Stimson, superintendent of the Army Nurse Corps, wrote of her: "When her organization was removed to...Hospital No. 111...she was under fire again and showed the greatest bravery, efficiency and ability to inspire not only her staff but the officers and men. (She has the) ability to bear extraordinary long hours of duty and lack of comforts...".
During the horrific fighting that was taking a heavy toll on American troops, Nurse Meirs was devoted to caring for the dying and wounded around the clock as they were brought in from the front. The Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, but it took awhile to bring everyone home. In the meantime, Miss Meirs put her culinary talents to use by baking for all - 176 apple pies on Christmas Eve of that year!
She returned to the US in January, served at the National Soldiers Home Hospital in VA, and was officially discharged on March1, 1919.
For her devotion to "her boys", she was awarded medals from multiple countries: the International Red Cross Florence Nightingale Medal, the French Croix de Guerre, the Queen Maria Cross (Romania), the German Red Cross Medal, the US WWI Victory Medal (Meuse Argonne Defensive Sector), and the NJ Victory Medal.
Linda Meirs was very modest about her life of sacrifice and devotion to others. Her reply to reporters who wanted to write articles about her was, "I was just doing my job."