Mina C. Harrison - Red Cross volunteer
"It's funny how Bill and I met during the war. I mean, I was assigned to a field hospital with no patients yet and
he was assigned to an army with a General Staff Headquarters and no soldiers yet. Or so I thought. He had already
met Patton but he was sworn to secrecy. Turns out he spent a lot of time
trying to track where our unit was for months and how I was doing in a front line combat field hospital.
He had trained for battle. I was a volunteer. Well, they gave me $200 a month later.
Never thought in a million years that I would end up marrying him after the war."
"So we Red Cross women were bivouacked together but we weren't deployed, eveyone was just waiting for the
invasion and we were running out of, should I say, supplies we needed and I heard no one was listening at
the Quartermaster's so I took
it upon myself to find the head of the show and give him a piece of my mind.
So after making some enquiries of my own, and believe me, every GI was a girl's best friend then, I found
out the place to go was the General Staff Headquarters. So I made my way there and found the door marked
Supply and went in to make my case. The guy at the desk out front did not want some red-haired young girl
telling him his business so I guess it got a little heated and then this door on the back wall opens and
out comes this handsome young colonel who says, "What's all the racket about?" and then we locked eyes
and that was all I could say. "Your request is duly noted, young lady." I identified myself and my unit
and left, gritting my teeth about that ass I had just met. I thought that would be the end of it. How little I
knew. But as I found out months later, he had turned to the clerk at the front desk after I walked out
and said, "I'm going to marry that woman".
When I got back to my tent my superior, for reasons not like her, was waiting for me. Before I could
get it out how I had met this complete jackass and how horribly he had treated me, she said, "You'll
be going out with Colonel Harrison tonight. He just called and wanted to meet you under better
circumstances. Be ready at 5PM."
Following her heroic WW II contribution, Mina continued her Quaker school (Friends Academy, Philadelphia) work as a volunteer, adding
momentum to her charitable work with her conversion to Catholicism by Msgr. O'Neill.
- starting the volunteer Candy-Stripers at Children's Hospital,
- starting the St. Louis Children's Zoo Zoo's Who ("Adopt-Your-Favorite-Animal" Badges) fundraiser ($1.2 million)
with Zoo Director Marlin Perkins (opened 1969,
closed 2020) to make it possible,
- starting the Washington University Faculty Club restaurant in
the Whittemore House for faculty, staff, and friends,
- starting the James S. McDonnell USO at
the STL Airport
- all the while keeping her Red Cross membership active and raising money for various charitable functions,
- for instance, to supply
young people starting their first jobs with alarm clocks after hearing repeated complaints from employers, through the
Tandy Substation (in Tandy Park). This echoed the sign hanging in WWII in Patton's 3rd Army Supply Section, "Nothing is Too Good For
Our Men". Mina was never an "Isn't everybody rich?" subscriber and the alarm clock program, seemingly rediculous to many, had
Always one for working without credit, this gravestone in Jefferson Barracks is all that commemorates her many efforts.
Ironically, because she had altered her sister's birth certificate to join the war effort, she could not get a passport or
Social Security in her old age. Her own death insurance from WWII buried her. At least they let her be interred with her husband in
Jefferson Barracks. She served as the president of the Valle Mining Company from 1983 until 1987.