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MY COUSIN RAIMA, WORLD WAR 2 HERO


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Raima was an Army nurse in the second World War, and as such, she was my idol, and I joined the R.O.T.C. thinking I was following in her footsteps, but as it turned out, her footsteps were far too big.

Raima did not have an easy childhood, her mother died when she was only six, leaving her and two brothers. Her father took her oldest brother, leaving Raima and one brother to stay with various families until he got things figured out. After several years of moving from one family to another, our Aunt Helen, a kind, comfortable and pragmatic woman, collected both children and took them home to raise with her own two children, in Alameda, CA, in the big old house our great-grandfather had built.

After graduating from, Alameda High School, where I would also graduate in another decade, Raima became a nurse, and when the War began for us in December, 1941, she joined the Army as a nurse.

She was my father’s favorite cousin, and he, being a Navy man, was initially disappointed that she did not choose the Navy, but years later, the two old warriors met many times over a fishing stream, along with her husband Charlie, whom she had met while stationed in France during the War.

In 1942 she was sent to Casablanca, North Africa where she stayed until the fighting broke out in Italy, and we prepared to invade Italy via Anzio. Raima was part of a portable hospital unit, following General George Patton’s 3rd Army, and was at Anzio during the tough fighting.

Thanks to the movie M.A.S.H., we are all familiar with the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital which actually came about in 1945, but were deployed as such in the Korean war. They were preceded by the portable surgical hospitals in the first and second Wars.

In 1944 the 3rd Army moved into France where it remained until D-Day. From France they went to Germany, where Raima remained to nurse the survivors of the Holocaust as they were released from the Death and Concentration camps.

Raima died at the age of 98, and yesterday she was memorialized with an honor guard and the mournful sound of Taps, as we said goodbye to a Hero. She was always my Hero.

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14 comments on “MY COUSIN RAIMA, WORLD WAR 2 HERO

  1. When great American heroes like Raima pass, I am always sad and wonder if our generation would answer the bell like she did. It’s hard to find those who have the character, background and courage to give it all like she did.

    I’m sure today’s politicians would speak in glowing terms about Raima, they always do, but day to day, many of our putative leaders are totally devoid of the qualities that Raima represented and really have no idea of how extraordinary her service to the nation was.

    Thanks for the wonderful story of Raima. And bless her.

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    • Several years ago a well-known journalist we listened to, assured us that each generation produces people with courage. None of us know the extent of our courage until we are tested. There were so many in my generation who, barely emerging from the Depression, still felt the call to country. There was a veritable flood of enlistees even in high school. The movie representation didn’t hurt either. Everyone wanted to be a hero. But the nurses who went into the war with no thought of glory, and with small preparation, were indeed heroes to me. I had not realized the length of time she spent in Germany after the
      War tending to the Holocaust victims when she might have returned home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good tale of devotion to land and folk by Raima, bless her soul.

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  3. You are fortunate to have one such among your family, Katy.

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  4. What a big life she had! My deepest condolences to you and Raima’s family, Kayti.

    Despite the sad occasion, it’s inspiring to read about such people who’ve made a real difference in the world and served their fellow human beings with love and courage. x

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  5. Mom,
    Thank you for fabulous recount on Raima’s amazing life. Good to know we have those sturdy and proud genes in our lineage. You have always been my hero.
    Love,
    Cori

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amen.
    Absolutely.
    My stepson joined the Army and became a medic with a group of Rangers.
    Iraq.
    First he treated his brothers in arms.
    Next he treated Iraqi non-combatants.
    Then he treated those who had just shot the future out from under everyone else.
    And in a firefight, he took a bullet in the neck.
    January 4, 2007.
    KIA. DOW.
    My man’s only child.
    Yes.
    You never know which child it will be,
    but we are surrounded by heros.
    And they instill in us
    the will to be brave, too.
    And dignity.
    And now, I too, love Raima.
    What a wonderful woman.
    An inspiration.

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  7. I am so sorry about your stepson. We can never thank him enough for his service. A waste of a good and true hero. I know he will be remembered always by those he helped save. They aren’t supposed to leave before us, yet they do give us the will to strive harder.

    Raima and your stepson are inspirations to all of us.

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  8. Whether they were the greatest generation is hard to say. But one thing is certain. Her generation was made up of an inordinately high proportion of selfless, giving people: people who did what needed to be done not for reward or recognition, but simply because it needed doing.

    I’m so glad to have read about her tonight. I’m a little weary of what’s been flooding the airways and internet, and this was a fine antidote to all that. I’m sorry for your loss, but infinitely grateful for her life and service.

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  9. What a lovely comment Linda. I appreciate it. You have also been on the giving side in your service in Liberia.

    Each generation comes with its own criteria to move the young. In my generation, it was the first time the United States had been attacked and it was a tough pill to swallow. It tended to make us angry rather than scared. The movies caught fire and produced stories we could all imagine ourselves starring in.

    Nursing, and tending to the needs of those less fortunate wherever they are, is high calling indeed.

    Even the news articles trying to be inspirational today, have a false sense of trying hard to titillate us, and make it easy to turn off the TV and open a book.

    BYW, just finished an interesting book—-“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. A cousin who had Down Syndrome recently died, and the protagonist in the book spoke to me. My daughter just saw the play in New York and loved it.

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