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  The Santo Tomas/Los Baños Navy Nurses  
   By Dr. Tom Mclaughlin  
  On the eve of Pearl Harbor, twelve Navy nurses were serving at the Cañacao Naval Hospital, in the Philippines.  When the Japanese first bombed the airfields around Manila and afterward destroyed the Cavite Navy Yard on December 10, 1941, these women not only had ringside seats, but got a firsthand taste of the horror of modern war.  As the Japanese onslaught continued unabated, eleven of the nurses (one escaped) became prisoners of war shortly after the American and Filipino resistance ended in Manila.  
  Chief nurse Laura Cobb and her ten subordinates spent the next three years in captivity.  First at Santa Tomas, a college campus in Manila, and later at Los Baños, at the site of the University of the Philippines agricultural college.  The camp at Los Baños, was located about 35 miles south of Manila, near the shore of Laguna de Bay, a large lake.  The nurses and all the internees including a three day old baby (for a total of 2,147) were liberated in a dramatic rescue on February 23, 1945.   
  Dr. Tom McLaughlin, a former Navy physician and cardio-thoracic surgeon, first became aware of the Navy nurse POWs while he was researching his father's wartime service.  He was not only taken with the haunting images of these women preserved in photographs, but also with their heroic story.  Each survived her captivity because, as Navy nurses, each had a purpose--caring for their patients. Regardless of the circumstances, they ran their prison hospital as a U.S. Navy hospital, even though they were forced to practice their healing art under armed guard and behind barbed wire.  Their dedication to duty enabled every one of them to come home with dignity.  
  The following is a roster of the 11 Navy nurses  
  Chief nurse, Laura Mae Cobb, Wichita, Kansas  
  Mary F. Chapman, Chicago, Illinois  
  Bertha R. Evans, Portland, Oregon  
  Helen C. Gorzelanski, Omaha, Nebraska  
  Mary Rose Harrington, Elk Point, South Dakota  
  Margaret "Peg" A. Nash, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania  
  Goldia "Goldie" A. O'Haver, Hayfield, Minnesota  
  Eldene E. Paige, Lomita, California  
  Susie J. Pitcher, Des Moines, Iowa  
  Dorothy Still, Long Beach, California  
  Edwina Todd, Pomona, California  
  Note: Two civilian nurses were imprisoned along with the Navy nurses.  
  Helen G. Grant, a Scottish nurse  
  Basilia Torres Steward, wife of an American  
  View Paintings About the Artist:  
  Dr. Tom McLaughlin has had a lifelong love for sketching and painting.  He has many friends who are artists and who encouraged him to develop his talent.  It wasn't until his retirement from his thoracic surgery practice that he could concentrate fully on his painting.  He did a series of 32 oil paintings that tells the story of the eleven Navy Nurses, who were prisoners of war in the Phillipines, from 1942 until their rescue on Feb. 23, 1945.  
  Since 1992 Dr. McLaughlin has studied with one of the world's most respected teachers, artist Joe Abbrescia.  He has also had the opportunity to work with artists in Kalispell, MT and Scottsdale, AZ.  He worked at the Scottsdale Artist's School in 1997 - 1999.  He spent March and April of 1998 painting with Mr. Abbrescia in Venice, Italy.  In September and October of 1999, he again worked with Mr. Abbrescia in Glacier National Park, MT.  Dr. McLaughlin lives in California with his wife, Dee and his five grown children.  
  Typing and editing by Dee McLaughlin, wife of Dr. Tom McLaughlin