It was 1950 when a young nurse in New Haven, Conn., saw a newspaper article about a Navy recruiter in town. Celine Finn thought she’d look into it.
“I had a nice talk with the recruiter,” Celine says. “She told me I’d go all over the world. I thought the opportunity to travel would be exciting.”
And just like that, Celine was off on an adventure – one that would span almost three decades. She started at the Naval Hospital in Newport, R.I., then she received orders to the Naval Hospital in San Diego, Calif. “There were 12 other nurses with me when I joined,” she says. “We felt very honored to be members of the Navy Nurse Corps.”
Then, it was off to Inchon, South Korea, aboard the hospital ship, USS Consolation (AH-15). That was at the end of the Korean Conflict. “We took care of Sailors and Marines,” Celine says, and we took care of some of the people in that area. We were a goodwill ship.”
After Korea, other stateside assignments followed, including Naval Air Station Quonset Point, R.I., and duty at Boston College School of Nursing, where Celine earned her bachelor’s degree.
The whirlwind adventure continued. Celine served in Sigonella and Catania in Sicily, Yokosuka, Japan, and in Puerto Rico.
All in all, she served in 13 duty stations. Having entered the Navy as an Ensign, she rose to the rank of Captain. “I had a wonderful career,” she says. “I would never have had those experiences if I hadn’t applied to the Navy Nurse Corps.”
In Japan, for example, she didn’t just learn the culture, she lived it. “I rented a small home,” Celine says. “I slept on a futon, and I heated the house with a kerosene heater. I lived like the Japanese. My landlord didn’t speak English, and I spoke very little Japanese, but we were able to communicate.”
She wasn’t far from Tokyo, and made frequent trips there by Bullet Train. During the Christmas season, stores were decorated and festive. “When they’d wrap a gift for you, they’d carefully miter the corners,” Celine says. “It had to be absolutely perfect. And they were – the packages looked absolutely beautiful!”
Celine even had the chance to see the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. “I was the Chief Nurse’s assistant,” Celine says, “and she suggested that I attend the Olympics. That was wonderful – so exciting.”
On one of her many stateside tours, Celine served at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., during the Vietnam era. “We received patients from Vietnam,” Celine says. “There were such terrible injuries. It was heartbreaking.”
Around this time, she also had the opportunity for more education, and attended the University of Washington School of Nursing. She earned a master’s degree in Maternal Child Health. With all the different countries and assignments in her career, one constant for Celine was the Society. “I knew some of the nurses working for the Society who went out to visit our patients in their homes,” Celine says. “I thought they did outstanding work.”
“I told my advisor that I appreciated everything the Navy did for me and what a wonderful career I had, and that I wanted to give back and say thank you,” Celine says. So, she and her advisor set up a very generous gift of stock to the Society. This is a special act of generosity that will help Sea Service members and their families.
“I’m happy to do it,” she says. “I’ll always want to support the Society.” This is Celine’s legacy – serving her country, caring for others, helping however she can. We’re proud that she’s part of our community. Her Navy career demonstrates a heartfelt commitment to duty and mission. Her gift honors each and every one who serves.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso