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1st Lt. Mary L. Hawkins

1st Lt. Mary L. Hawkins. (U.S. Air Force photo)

1st Lt. Mary L. Hawkins. (U.S. Air Force photo)

On Sept. 24, 1944, 1st Lt. Mary Louise Hawkins was evacuating 24 patients from the fighting at Palau to Guadalcanal when the C-47 ran low on fuel. The pilot made a forced landing in a small clearing on Bellona Island. During the landing, a propeller tore through the fuselage and severed the trachea of one patient.

Hawkins made a suction tube from various items including the inflation tube from a "Mae West." With this contrivance, she kept the man's throat clear of blood until aid arrived 19 hours later. All of her patients survived. For her actions, Hawkins received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

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