Mildred “Millie” Seefeld, a U.S. Army nurse who served during World War II (February 1943 to October 1945) has been honored by the Milwaukee Armed Services Committee (MASC) with the 2020 Lance P. Sijan Award.
The award acknowledges a veteran who performed distinguished service while in one of the Armed Forces of the USA. Such service does not require that the recipient received any special recognition previously from the military branch in which he/she was engaged. Most recipients to date have served in WWII, Korea, or Vietnam and usually in a combat zone.
Mildred was born in Milwaukee, the daughter of a Lutheran pastor. She received her nurses training at Milwaukee Hospital (later named Lutheran Hospital) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She worked in a hospital in Milwaukee for a short time before leaving for Madison where she and some of her classmates intended to apply for training in Physical Therapy. When the war broke out, some of them entered the Army to serve as nurses. Millie did further training in Walla Walla, Washington and then went on for additional Army training before being shipped overseas.
Millie was assigned to the 22nd General Hospital in Blandford, England (about 40 miles from London). There were multiple buildings and barracks on this site where Millie was assigned to an orthopedic unit. In this unit, soldiers with war wounds, including traumatic amputations, were sent for treatment. She described the beds in the ward as ones with large frames above and around them where soldiers would have their arms or legs suspended during the recovery and healing process.
The operations tempo increased during the Battle of the Bulge and over one particular night more than 500 wounded soldiers arrived at the 22nd General Hospital in Blandford for treatment. There were other soldiers from other battles who came there as well but Millie remembers the Bulge as the source of a lot of the wounded for whom she provided care.
The 22nd General Hospital was the site where wounded were sent from the Battle of the Bulge. She stated that in a peak period they would receive as many as 500 patients in one 24-hour period.
Millie admits that seeing the horrible results of war and caring for the wounded day after day changed her perspective on war. She describes war is horrible and nothing to be romanticized. She was determined to teach her children to care about others so as to build a better world.
Her caring for the wounded lasted for nearly two years, not counting her preliminary training before going overseas. Following her discharge as a 1st Lieutenant, Millie returned to Milwaukee where she resumed her work as a nurse. Eventually, she went to work for one doctor as his office nurse. She married and had children but resumed nursing activities when their children reached high school age.
Millie continued to work as a nurse until she retired at age 65. She was always faithful in her church attendance and worship, and a model citizen who liked caring for others because she feels it is important to look for ways to be helpful.
Millie, who lives in Wauwatosa, is now 100 years old, but one would never know that from looking at her and speaking with her. Meg Jones of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper has interviewed Millie for a book that she is writing.
Millie truly brings credit to what is now called The Greatest Generation.