PRAIRIE GROVE, Ark. (KNWA) — “My father said nice girls don’t go into the army but that was way back then,” Nurse Corp Veteran Patricia Groce said. “I told him, ‘nice girls are nice girls no matter where they are, they pick their own futures.'”
Groce of Prairie Grove says she was in school training to become a nurse when a friend told her about an Army student nurse program.
“Five of us went over and signed up during our senior year and they paid us for our senior year and we were to give them two years back,” Groce said.
Groce says she graduated from training in 1961. She was partnered with another woman as part of the buddy program and was sent to Texas to complete basic training. “I was sent over to Germany and she was sent to France so we kind of lost track of each other after that,” Groce said.
Groce says being overseas and away from her family made her feel lonely – that was until she met the love of her life in Germany. “We got married over there,” Groce said. “They made a big deal about it on the post because nothing ever happened there they said.”
Groce says in her four years in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, one of the most memorable experiences she recalls was the time she had to deliver a baby on her own. “This German doctor was there and I had a patient there and I called him and said, ‘you have to come in, this patient is going to deliver,'” Groce said. “He stood behind me and he told me what to do and after the delivery was over he says, ‘now I know you know how to do it – I won’t worry about you anymore.'”
After years of serving Groce was medically discharged when she became pregnant. She eventually got back into the nursing field while raising two kids. Now Groce says she spends her time practicing all year for the National Veterans Golden Age Games with the Razor – Vets team. “It’s like a family to me,” Groce said.
She’s competed in the games since 2014 and has won medals in several tournaments including air rifle, swimming and table tennis. “As we get older, we need to get into a program where we can be active and do things and not just sit around and be couch potatoes,” Groce said.