Veteran Ruth Chappell

Ruth Chappell

Ruth Loftis grew up on a farm in Paul’s Valley, Oklahoma, the youngest of nine children. Even during the Great Depression, she says, “We always had plenty to eat.” Her favorite memory of her childhood is riding her horse to school. She studied nursing at St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and in 1943 she was sent to Millington, Tennessee where she served as charge nurse over twenty beds for seven months. She smiles when she recalls being trained for military duty. “Some Marine Sergeant came to our nurses’ residence and tried to teach us how to march, how to salute, and how to prepare for inspection. I wasn’t very military,” she laughs.

During her stay at Millington, she met Chip Chappell, a naval aviator, on a blind date. It wasn’t long before they were married, and because marriage for a Navy nurse meant immediate discharge, Ruth found she must forfeit her job. “Women weren’t allowed to serve if they were married,” she remembers.

Reflecting on her post-military days, Ruth says, “God gave us all gifts. I figured what I really am is a care-giver.” Ruth went on to help establish and run a Hospice Care program in Halifax, Virginia while she raised her family. “Every time I salute the flag, I tear up,” she says now. “We’re given so much in this country, and we need to be grateful for it. I’m glad I live here,” she concludes.

As told to Jean Kilby