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60 years later, soldier and nurse meet again

Sure it's a cliche, but sometimes we're reminded that it really is a small world.

Emil Raninen, 92, of Clearwater had one of those moments earlier this month when he read a story in the Largo Times about a World War II Army nurse who would be speaking at Heritage Village.

It had been more than 60 years. But Raninen recognized her immediately.

Hazel Murphy, 88, of St. Petersburg was a nurse in Australia and New Guinea during the war years. Raninen was a soldier during the same time period in the same locations.

He persuaded a neighbor to drive him to the WWII & the Swinging Forties celebration, where Murphy would be sharing her experiences.

"I want to see my nurse," Raninen said as he approached the display where Murphy stood.

Murphy smiled, but was a little puzzled. Raninen introduced himself and began to chat.

He was a staff sergeant with the 32nd Division, drafted just out of high school in Detroit. He received a Silver Star for gallantry in action. He contracted malaria in New Guinea and was sent to the hospital in Australia.

And Raninen knew something about Murphy that wasn't mentioned in the newspaper.

"He remembered I had red hair," said a surprised Murphy. "It gave me goose bumps."

Raninen gave her a hug and a kiss and said thank you to his former caretaker.

"It was wonderful to see her and we talked a long time," he said. "It brought back many memories. Malaria is no fun. She was a good nurse and a very pretty girl. If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't be here."

60 years later, soldier and nurse meet again 04/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 21, 2008 3:14pm]
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