Kortz honors 100-year-old local WW II Army nurse for service

WHITEHALL, Dec. 6 – In the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941 thousands of young men responded to their nation’s call and volunteered for military duty. So too did a 23-year-old nurse from Pittsburgh named Elva Bertha, an act that was part of a lifetime of service that continues to this day.

On Tuesday, state Rep. Bill Kortz, D-Allegheny, had the honor of recognizing Bertha and celebrating her 100th birthday during the Whitehall Borough Council meeting, when he presented her with a citation thanking her for her service.

“Elva’s story is an inspiration to us all,” Kortz said. “She is part of the greatest generation that served her country with honor during World War II. This Army nurse was stationed in the Pacific Theater tending to wounded soldiers in the Philippines under command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.”

Kortz continued. “Her steadfast devotion to helping others embodies not only what it means to be a nurse, but an American. Throughout her life she went above and beyond what was required of her, selflessly giving back to her community.”

Bertha graduated from St. Francis Hospital in 1936, and joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. In 2016 she told a magazine, “The moment I heard about Pearl Harbor, I wanted to join. I knew I could do something because I was a nurse.”

In 1943, her 27th General Hospital Unit was stationed in the South Pacific, where it tended to the wounded from the Pacific campaign until the 1945 end of the war. For her service she was awarded a Bronze Star and several other service decorations.

Kortz further stated, “Elva Bertha could well be the oldest living veteran nurse from the World War II Pacific Theatre, if not the entire World War II Army Nurse Corps. God bless you, Elva, for your service and sacrifice to our country.”

After the war, Bertha returned to the Pittsburgh area, living in Overbrook and Baldwin where she was known as the neighborhood nurse, always tending to the minor injuries of children on her street. With her husband Paul she raised three boys and two girls, and worked as an industrial nurse at Bell Telephone until her retirement.

Since retiring, Bertha has remained active in her community, volunteering at the election polls and local clinics, and for Meals on Wheels and other programs.