Pauline was born in Elgin, Tx. On November 28, 1919 to Henry Clay Speer and Lela Pauline Rankin Speer. She went to be with the Lord on Monday morning, August 19, 2019.
Pauline graduated from Elgin High School in 1936, the year of the Texas Centennial. She then went to Seton School of Nursing, where she received her Registered Nurse License. She worked a short time at Spahn Hospital in Corpus Christi. In 1941, she joined the U.S. Army Nursing Corps and went to Camp Bowie and Camp Barkley for training. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, her platoon was attached to the 16th Field Hospital under General Patton, where she served overseas until the war ended in 1945. She married Edmund Marzec while they were serving in the U.S. Army in Europe. In December of 1945, Pauline and Edmund became the proud parents of the first twins ever born at Camp Swift. Shortly after they moved to Spencer, Iowa, then to Gary, Indiana. In April 1956, they moved back to Elgin. In August of 1956, they bought land and a
house on Hwy 95 South in Elgin. They had just added a utility room, breezeway and garage when the house was hit by a tornado in April of 1966, marking the end of a 7-year drought. Edmund passed away in January of 1966. She met Bobbie Bostic in 1971, while he was building fences for her. They fell in love and were married 30 years when he passed away February of 2002.
Pauline was predeceased by her parents; her husband’s, Edmund John Marzec and Bobbie Vernon Bostic; her sister, Marjorie Sutton; and her granddaughter, Chandra Sriram. Pauline is survived by her twin daughters, Marilyn Morris and Carolyn Nikkal; her grandchildren, Sandra Morris, Roy Harvey Morris IV & wife Laurie, Paula Morris Crick and husband John, and 8 great-grandchildren.
The family asks that memorial contributions be made in Pauline’s honor to the Elgin
VFW Post #6115, Salvation Army, and Hospice Austin.
Honoring Pauline with grace as Pallbearers are Roy Harvey Morris, Sandra Morris, Paula Morris Crick, John Crick, Amber LaBauve Wilson, and Cheyenne Byrer.
Upon her death, Pauline was still living at her home that her and Edmund bought in 1956. Family and friend will gather at the Elgin Funeral Home for visitation on Friday, August 23rd from 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM. A Funeral Service will be conducted graveside, with Full Military Honors, at the Elgin Cemetery on Saturday, August 24th at 9:00 AM.
What’s a Nice Girl From Elgin Doing in a Place Like This?
Pauline Speer Marzec Bostic
1936 was the year of the Texas Centennial and the year I graduated from Elgin High School. I had to wait until I turned 17 to start nurses training at Seton Hospital in Austin.
I graduated from Seton as a registered nurse in 1940 and began my nursing career in Corpus Christi, the first stop along my nursing journey. I worked very hard for $60.00 a month. The hours were long, the weather very cold and humid, and I got sick. Corpus Christi didn’t hold me long and I returned to Elgin.
One day, I told my Mom that I wanted to be a nurse in the Army. I went to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, talked with Captain Nellie B Close, told her that I was a registered nurse and that I wanted to join the Army. She said, "When do you want to go?" I said, "Anytime." She said, "This week?" I said, "That would be fine.”
I caught the bus and left for Camp Barkley – a new Army base in Abilene – the next stop on my nursing itinerary. Most of the nurses there were new to the Army. The first night there the other nurses went on leave and I stayed behind to clean the barracks. Just as I finished cleaning, I looked out the window to see the durndest sand storm you ever saw. The wind blew, the sand came in all the windows, and the end of the barracks piled up with sand. I went running around trying to close all the windows. About that time, the others returned and said, "I don’t know why anyone didn’t shut the windows."
I was stationed at Camp Barkley when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. When the chief nurse heard of the bombing, she took the Japanese kimono she had bought in the Philippines and burned it.
While at Camp Barkley, I met the handsome Edmund Marzec who was stationed with the Chief of Surgeon General’s Office. More about him later.
It wasn’t long before the Army made the 16th Field Hospital. I was one of the first to be assigned to it. We were sent to Camp Bowie in Brownwood for training, then on to California. We left the U. S. A. on February 14, 1943 on our circuitous route to Europe.
Our platoon had 18 nurses. We traveled across the equator on to Wellington, New Zealand. Then, we went to St. Kilday, Australia. That was the first time we got off the boat. The officers marched us on land and we passed a café. The officers said we should stay outside while the men went in for some food and drink. You know that wasn’t going over with us, so we went in the café anyway and had the best steak we had ever tasted. After that, we decided to go to Melbourne, about eight miles away. They had taxis that had coal for fuel – like a little stove in the back end. I don’t know how it worked, but it did.
Our next stop was Bombay, India. You could smell Bombay long before you could see land. We got to ride in – I guess you would call it a carriage – that was pulled by mules.
From there, we went down past Ceylon, which is now Sri Lanka. Our ship then sailed into the Indian Ocean.
Our next stop was Port Tewfix (Suez), Egypt. One of the platoons stayed at Suez and the other one went to Tabrit, a large lake in the Suez Canal. . The canal is 90 feet deep, 90 yards wide and 90 miles long. Once we got to Egypt, some of the nurses were shipped to another base.
The first place we stopped was in Fayid in the desert. We stayed in tents. Then later we moved into a little town called Devorsoir. We had a dispensary there that had three rooms – a living room, a shower, and a big mess hall. The hospital was at the other side of the dispensary.
The Egyptians would come by and pick up our laundry and bring it back as pretty as could be. One day, we were down in the bazaar in Cairo and there was one of our Egyptian laundrymen. He had a big flat rock and a big iron attached to a hoe handle. He would stand up to iron. To sprinkle the clothes, he would get a mouth full of water and spit the water all over our clothes. He really did do a good job of ironing the clothes, but we wished we hadn’t seen him while he was working.
We rode camels in Egypt to the Pyramids. We also got leave to go to Palestine, then flew to Tel Aviv and made a tour along the Jericho Road, the Dead Sea, and the whole area. We crossed the River Jordan, which was about as big as Burleson Creek.
When we reached Tel Aviv, the first thing we did was belly up to a bar and order a glass of milk. We had not had any milk in a long time. Before we left there, we decided to buy a big bag in order to take back fruits and vegetables. We went into a store to buy a bag, but the storekeeper could not speak English and we could not speak his language. We ended up using sign language. We came out of the store with big pillowcases and our friends back in Egypt were glad to see us with fruits and vegetables. They were tired of the c-rations.
Our journey to Europe continued and right before St. Patrick’s Day (1943), we went to Gorouck, Scotland, on the River Clyde, and then went down to Evesham, England. We all stayed in Evesham awaiting D-Day.
Ed (told you that you’d hear about him again) was shipped from New Jersey to London and we met up in Evesham, got engaged and set a wedding date of June 27, 1944. Little did we know that I was to be shipped out on June 22 to Ste. Mereiglese, France, arriving on June 27, not exactly what I had planned for that day.
D-Day had already taken place and some of us were dropped off in Paris while others went to Belgium for supplies. Ed was in Paris and we decided Paris was the perfect place for a wedding. So on October 4 and 5, 1944 (we had to have two marriage ceremonies) we were husband and wife. We stayed in a town house that had hot water and all the wedding party enjoyed hot baths for the first time in quite awhile. But the honeymoon was cut short.
A driver was sent to pick me up because all nurses were needed in Bastogne. The driver and I started back to Bastogne at night and ended up where they had just had a real fight. There were trucks on fire and helmets scattered on the ground. Outside Bastogne, we looked at all the trucks and they were 7th Army and we were 3rd Army. We knew we were lost. A sergeant waved us down and said the nurses were looking for us and they had packed all my clothes and taken them to Chateaux Bon Fontainne. The sergeant told us that we could spend the night in an old barn that still had part of the roof on it. It was freezing and the sergeant told us we had to sleep on the floor because there was only one cot and he was going to sleep on it. So much for male chivalry.
We went from Chateaux Bon Fontainne to Luxembourg, arriving in the middle of the night. It was a beautiful moonlit night with snow everywhere. We were being shot at and I had not had sleep since the day before. We moved into a church in Luxembourg, put our bedrolls down in front of the altar and passed out. We were so tired we could have slept on rocks.
The next day General Patton came up and we had a meeting with him. He was trying to figure out how he was going to get to Bastogne. He said, "We can take the tanks and drive a wedge into the town and put the field hospital in the middle of the wedge, or we can parachute the field hospital into Bastogne.” That did not sound too good. Thank goodness General Patton opted for the wedge.
We began to get casualties at Attert, Belgium. We set up a hospital in an old building and it was so cold that we couldn’t give anesthetic because you had to have some heat in the place. We gave IV anesthetic like sodium pentothal.
Some of the wounded were Germans wearing American uniforms and dog tags. They spoke better English than the Germans in Fredericksburg. When they started getting the IV anesthetic, they started counting in English, then reverted to German. When they came out of anesthetic, one of the Jewish doctors, who had a great sense of humor, told the Germans that they might as well stay there because Hitler wouldn’t have them back since they were not pure Aryan anymore. He told them they had been given transfusions of Jewish blood while they were under anesthetic.
Later, the troops went on to Bastogne, but came in from the northwest and took over Bastogne. We weren’t in the fight at Bastogne.
We had penicillin, which was new, and we used it a lot. We had plasma and a lot of Type-O blood. The plasma was a powder. In our spare time we would sit on a cot and mix it with water to have it ready to use. For pain, we would get a 50cc bottle of distilled water and the pharmacy would put in 50 quarter grain morphine pills. We’d have to shake it up real good and hope each wounded soldier got a quarter grain of morphine. That was the best we could do in relieving pain.
In the hospital tents, we had clotheslines to hang IVs. It was very primitive. We got only chest and belly cases. The chest cases were really bad. I heard one soldier was from Texas and I asked him where he was from. He said, "A little town near Austin, called Elgin." I told him I was from Elgin, too. His name was Willie Morris and he used to work at the City Café. After he was discharged, he came back to Elgin, looked up my Daddy and let him know that I saved his life and that I was all right.
It was getting close to the end of the war and things were moving fast. That is when the medics captured the town of Freidburg, Germany. We were following the 6th Army. We were supposed to go over the hill into the town with them, but they decided at the last minute to go around the town and come in the other side. They neglected to post anybody on the road to tell us and we went into the town. The town folks and German soldiers were as surprised as we were and they knew the war was about over. They did not shoot because we had the Red Cross flag. One of the nurses spoke German and talked the German commander into surrendering. He told his troops to lay down their arms. Neither side knew who the prisoners were, but we knew one side would end up being prisoners. Thank goodness it was them.
Ed was able to get a 3-day leave on April 6, 7 and 8 and he helped us move from Fulda to Suhl to Kulmbach, Germany.
At the end of war, I knew I was pregnant and was shipped home, arriving in New York City May 31, 1945. My twins were born at Camp Swift, Texas, December 16, 1945. Ed got back to New York City that day so he wasn’t present for the birth of his two daughters.
The nurses I worked with all became close like sisters. We still write letters, call, and visit each other.
Growing up in Elgin, I never imagined I would see the places in the world I had only read about. The horrors of the war took me to four continents.
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Elgin V.F.W. Post #6115 Elgin V.F.W. Post #6115
118 Old Sayers Road, Elgin TX 78621
Hospice of Austin
4107 Spicewood Springs Road, Austin TX 78759