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Pride of a Naval nurse: Local veteran takes a look back

Remembering: Arlene Adreneaux served in the Navy Medical Corp WAVES from 1956 to 1960 as a practical nurse. This week she took a trip down memory lane with a peek into her yearbooks.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

Remembering: Arlene Adreneaux served in the Navy Medical Corp WAVES from 1956 to 1960 as a practical nurse. This week she took a trip down memory lane with a peek into her yearbooks.
Photo by Cassandra Favre


Next Tuesday, the people of the United States will take a moment to remember the men and women who gave their lives or served this country in one of the many branches of the United States Military.
Active and non-active personnel can be found throughout Pearl River County, as well as retired veterans who remember many historical conflicts including World War II, The Korean War and Vietnam.
In numerous instances, many of these brave men and women never made it home to tell their stories to future generations, but there are still veterans out there ready to share their story.
Some veterans never left their home country, but their role in this nation’s military history is just as significant.
Arlene Petchnick Adreneaux has lived in Poplarville since 2000, but her story does not begin there.
It begins in the mid 1950’s when she was senior in high school in Washington State.
“A woman recruiter talked to our class about serving in the Navy Medical Corp WAVES, which stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service and I thought it was a good thing to do,” Adreneaux said. “I joined the Navy right after graduation.”
In 1956, Adreneaux traveled to Bainbridge, Maryland to begin boot camp and the hospital course school at the U.S. Naval Training Center.
Adreneaux was the second oldest of seven children and said being from a large family gave her an advantage in boot camp.
“We had to clean, do laundry and sew,” Adreneaux said. “We performed a lot of marching and took swimming lessons and classes on the Navy. I was on the honor guard and played the phonograph.”
Adreneaux spent nine weeks at boot camp and then an additional 16 weeks at the hospital course school where she trained to be a practical nurse.
After she graduated and passed her reviews, Adreneaux traveled to Oakland, Calif. to work at the Naval Hospital.
“I worked in the emergency room, clinic, OB/GYN unit and in some of the women and children’s wards of the hospital,” Adreneaux said. “I enjoyed working in the different areas and working with the babies and I baby sat for some of the military families.”
Adreneaux’s military career ended in 1960, but she continued her medical career as a nurse’s aide in Seattle where she lived with three other women.
It was there she met her husband Dudley who was stationed at Whidby Island. Dudley served in the Army National Guard, Navy and Air Force Guard as a jet engine technician on naval and Air Force airplanes.
The pair married on Jan. 21, 1963 and have one daughter, Sherry, and two grandchildren.
A portrait of Adreneaux in full uniform can be viewed at the Poplarville Historical Preservation Society’s Museum at 101 North Main St., Suite B.
As Adreneaux glanced through the pages of her Navy yearbook this week, she remembered with a smile the women, activities and the experiences that made up her journey in the armed forces.
One particular picture brought a smile full of pride to her face as she read the words; “Through these portals pass the women of the greatest Navy on Earth.”