When We Had Wings
by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris, and Susan Meissner
The Philippines, 1941. When US Navy nurse Eleanor Lindstrom, US Army nurse Penny Franklin, and Filipina nurse Lita Capel forge a friendship at the Army Navy Club in Manila, they believe they're living a paradise assignment. All three are seeking a way to escape their past, but soon the beauty and promise of their surroundings give way to the heavy mantle of war.
Caught in the crosshairs of a fight between the US military and the Japanese Imperial Army for control of the Philippine islands, the nurses are forced to serve under combat conditions and, ultimately, endure captivity as the first female prisoners of the Second World War. As their resiliency is tested in the face of squalid living arrangements, food shortages, and the enemy's blatant disregard for the articles of the Geneva Convention, they strive to keep their hope—and fellow inmates—alive, though not without great cost.
In this sweeping story based on the true experiences of nurses dubbed the "Angels of Bataan," three women shift in and out of each other's lives through the darkest days of the war, buoyed by their unwavering friendship and distant dreams of liberation.
A Note from Ariel
"The Angels of Bataan should be known and celebrated. They should be taught in history books alongside Patton and MacArthur. Instead, their stories were hidden. In 1945, the world didn't know what to do with women at war. So the United States government swept it under the carpet and pretended it never happened. But as their experiences have come to light in recent decades, our responsibility to share them has increased. It was an honor for the three of us to learn about and write this piece of history. We hope these nurses give our readers courage. And we hope that now, more than ever, our society appreciates the selfless work of the medical community in this country and around the world."