Alleghany County

Region: 
Western

Learn more about the history of nursing in Alleghany County

Quick Facts

People and Biographies

Interview with Nurse Wanda Wills,RN, WWII nurse from Sparta.

Wanda Wills was born in 1918 in Sparta, North Carolina, the oldest daughter of a tobacco farmer. She attended a one-room schoolhouse and then graduated from Sparta High School in 1935. She decided she wanted to be a nurse so she then completed the three-year nursing program at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1939.  In March 1940, Wills joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (ANC). Her first assignment was at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where she worked in the psychiatric ward. She was transferred in 1943, in the middle of World War II, to McKinney, Texas. There she treated soldiers returning from the South Pacific Theater of war.

Wills decided she wanted to serve on the battlefield and went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for overseas training. On Christmas Eve, 1943, her unit shipped out for Europe. She served in France, Belgium and Germany before WWII was over.

After she was discharged, Wills stayed a part of the ANC reserves, and received her certificate in public health from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She reenlisted in the ANC in 1948 and was stationed at bases around the world and throughout the US.  Her talents were recognized and she worked her way up to Chief Nurse. Wills retired from the ANC in 1964 as a lieutenant colonel. She was awarded a Bronze Star and a commendation medal.  She retired to Sparta and was a Grand Marshall in the 2002 4th of July parade there.  Wills died January 10, 2014 at the age of 95.

An article from the Galax, VA Gazette, published in 2001, about Nurse Practitioner Janet Garvey of Sparta who was a nurse in the first Gulf War.