Valley County, IDGenWeb Project

Jeanne Harder Rowe

19 July 1916 - 26 January 1998

Jeanne Harder was born at North Fork, Idaho, in 1916, the daughter of Charles and Rennie Harder. Mrs. Bartel, an Indian lady from the Flathead Indian tribe in Montana, delivered her. Jeanne graduated from Salmon High School, the college at Walla Walla Washington, and from Loma Linda Hospital School of Nursing as a registered nurse in 1940. She joined the army as a nurse and later earned the rank of First Lieutenant. Jeanne served in the army all the way from Australia up through the islands of the South Pacific to the Philippines. She witnessed many horrible things during those years; wounds that were full of maggots, young boys whose bodies were shot up and mangled, poisonous, crawling things, and snakes of all sizes and description. The nurses hid out in the jungle nursing the wounded to get away from the bombing and strafing of the Japanese planes. The snakes and flies were everywhere and they learned the little snakes were more to be feared than the big ones. A death adder was less than a foot long. There was a large six foot long black snake that was welcomed into the tents as it would crawl under the bamboo mats and kill the rats and mice. Jeanne told of a time they operated on a boy for appendicitis. About the time he woke up, the shelling had started. The next day, the boy was found three miles away, none the worse for the run.

Jeanne was on one of the first ships that went into Laytee Harbor. A Japanese suicide plane flew into an ammunition ship that was also in the harbor, blowing the ship up. Instantly they had many wounded for which to care.

The first hospital they had in the Philippines was a Catholic Church, but the nurses soon had to hide out in the jungle to get away from the bombing and strafing by the Japanese planes. They set up whatever they could in native huts and shelters to care for the wounded. Jeanne and another nurse from North Dakota accompanied more that 800 prisoners of war from Japan on a ship back to the United States. Jeanne received the Bronze Star medal and all the seventeen nurses in her group received a presidential citation for bravery by President Roosevelt.

Jeanne was reluctant to talk very much about the war. Another nurse who served with Jeanne cpmmented, "In all the years since, she has never shared any of her memories with her family or with anyone else." I guess it was just too painful to remember.

After the war, Jeanne was a nurse on a passenger ship that sailed between Seattle and the Orient. She met and married Bob Rowe, who was an officer on the ship. After retirement, Jeanne's love for the Salmon River Mountains lured them back to Yellow Pine, Idaho where the couple built a home. They helped to start the quick response unit and Jeanne served as a volunteer nurse in the area. After Bob's death due to a heart attack, Jeanne traveled extensively to many parts of the world. She walked on the Great Wall of China and also experienced the terrible typhoons of the South China Sea. She has been guided by the North Star and the Southern Cross and has traversed the equator several times. She visited many historical places in the world, which included riding a camel past the great pyramids in Egypt. She visited the place where General Douglas McArthur came ashore on his historic return to the Philippines.

In 1994 the army had a fifty-year reunion on Laytee Beach. Of the seventeen nurses there were only two left who were able to attend. At the reunion, old gray haired men approached Jeanne saying, "You don't remember me because there were too many of us, but I remember you as the nurse in our hospital tent. You cleaned my wounds and gave me hope at a time when there was no hope. You helped to restore my will to live. I want to thank you and all the nurses for giving so much to us."

Soon after Jeanne returned from the reunion, she became ill and never fully recovered. Three years later she died of a brain tumor. Jeanne requested that her ashes be scattered over the mountains of Yellow Pine just as her husband's were. Here, in spirit, they will be together again in the peace and quiet of their beloved mountains of the River of No Return (the Salmon River).