A Salute to Virginia Granger


Virginian Granger at Kirby PinesVirginia Granger was born February 21, 1920 in Johnson City, Illinois. She and her parents, Jesse and Orpha Henderson, moved to West Frankfort, Illinois when Virginia was about two years old. Virginia graduated from West Frankfort Community High School in 1937. She went to Nursing School at Christian Welfare Hospital in East St. Louis, Illinois and earned her RN in 1942. Later, after her service in the Army, Virginia went to Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Virginia volunteered for the Army Nurse Corps in 1943 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. At Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, Virginia received her basic training and then worked at the station hospital for six weeks while awaiting further orders.

Virginia traveled by troop train to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, which was the Port of Embarkation. During the few months, Virginia received additional training and worked in the station hospital.

Virginia was sent to Barnstaple, England as a platoon nurse caring for troops aboard ship and also working in the station hospital. This was a temporary assignment while a passenger/cargo ship was being converted into the 206th Hospital Ship Thistle. Aboard the Thistle Virginia returned to New York where she was promoted to First Lieutenant and given a permanent two years assignment on the Thistle. The United States home ports for the Thistle were New York City and Charleston, South Carolina. Her overseas port was Naples, Italy. While aboard the Thistle, Virginia made 12 round trips across the Atlantic Ocean bringing sick and wounded troops home from the European Theaters. While in the Mediterranean Sea, they also shuttled sick and wounded troops from Oran, Africa and Southern France. Virginia and the rest of the crew of the Thistle participated in the Southern France Invasion (D-Day +1). At the end of the war, the Thistle was sent to the Philippine Islands to evacuate the remaining sick and wounded. After three years of service, Virginia was discharged in Des Moines, Iowa.

Virginia was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, the EAME (Eastern, American, Mediterranean) Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, the American Pacific Campaign Medal, and three overseas bars.

Virginia was married for thirty years. She and her late husband never had any children. After leaving the Army, Virginia worked as a nurse at the John Cockran Veterans Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Memphis Veterans Hospital. She worked a total of thirty years at these two hospitals and served in almost all of the departments within the hospitals. For several years Virginia was the supervisor of the Spinal Cord Injury, Post Surgical Unit and Psychiatric Departments of the hospital in Memphis.

Except for her college years in St. Louis, Virginia has lived in Memphis since 1946. She helped open the Veterans Hospital in St. Louis and she helped move the Memphis Veterans Hospital from Park and Getwell, to its current location on Jefferson Avenue. She retired from the VA in 1979. Virginia moved to Kirby Pines in 1995, and will celebrate her 99th birthday next year.