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United States Army Hospital Ship


War Brides


Atlantic Breeze
203rd Med
War Brides
Bill Avant
WWII Med Research Centre
Ships End


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After World War II, many of the ships that sailed the seas transporting troops and supplies to the war zone were quickly  transformed to accommodate a new need, transporting war brides back to the United States to join their soldier husbands.

In December 1945 through mid January 1946 the Algonquin was converted from a Army Hospital Ship back to a Army Transport ship, USATS.  Many of the USAT Algonquin voyages in 1946 were the transport of War Brides to New York. 

Below is the beginning of collection of photographs of "War Brides"  who traveled to the United States aboard the USATS Algonquin.

I would like to thank, in advance, those who have and will provide copies of  photographs of their war bride family members. 

Photograph 1. Provided By:   Edward Kasley
Date of contact: Fri Sep 14 19:11:05 2001
My mother, a war bride, came over to the US from Naples Italy on the Algonquin in the spring of 1946.

This picture is of my mother,[ Maria Occhipinto Kasley], and father, [Ewald Kasley] as they are emerging from the church of Santa Maria Dolorata in Bagnoli, Italy, a small suburb of Naples. They were married on June 30, 1945.   My fathers army buddies are holding the bayonettes as they walk through.  My mother still keeps in contact with another war bride that came over with her - Rosa Kokat.

Photograph 1: Ewald Kasley and Bride Maria Occhipinto (provided by Edward Kasley, son) 

Photograph 2 Below: (Carla Bernardi Pettey Mar 1946 of Rome, Italy, standing above the 'S")

(Copy of Email from Jess Pettey):  I am sending some attachments that you may use on your website.  My children are very excited over the discovery of this site and to know of the coincidence of your father, an officer on the ship, traveled with their mother on her first trip to the U.S.  In the photo "War Brides 1946", she was photographed at the rail waving while standing over the S in Transport.
Best Regards,

The coincidence referred to by Jess Pettey is that he is orignally from Nacodogches, Texas.  He and his war bride, Carla Bernardi, returned there after WWII.  My father James H. Wilkerson, who was one of the ships officers aboard the USAHS/AT Algonquin during Carla's trips to the United States, in 1972, married Martha Henderson Wheelers of  Nacodogches, Texas.  James lived in Nacodogches until his death in 1994. 

Photo 3:  Carla Bernardi, Naples 1946

Photo 4: Newpaper Article of Marriage of Jess Pettey and Carla Bernardi of Rome, Italy

The last two pages of ONE MORE MISSION: A JOURNEY FROM CHILDHOOD TO WAR, a 426 page autobiography by Jesse Pettey.

To review this book, click on

While delivering our laundry, the portiere’s wife said to Carla,

 “Signora, siete incinti?” (Madam, are you pregnant?)

 Her statement at the time was a shock to both of us but indeed, she proved to be prophetic.  A military doctor declared Carla pregnant a short time later. This new information presented a sudden need for me to begin preparations for our return to the United States. Military ships would not allow passengers to be more than six month pregnant and there were no other means of transportation for military wives at that time. Carla was scheduled to leave Italy carrying our first born, Lana, on the ALGONQUIN, a U. S. hospital ship that had been converted from a cargo ship and equipped to care for pregnant war brides. She departed Naples 7 March 1946 with 800 other pregnant military wives and arrived 12 days later at New York. During the passage to New York she was asked by one of the seasick Italian pregnant war brides why they could not travel to New York by train.

 Upon arriving at New York, Carla traveled by train from New York to Houston and by bus to Nacogdoches where she arrived on the 21st of March. My train from New York pulled into Camp Chaffee, Arkansas the 28th of March, where I was processed and placed on leave. I finally arrived in Nacogdoches 3 April 1946, 13 days after my mother, father and brother had met Carla at the bus station—all strangers welcoming a foreign bride to an unfamiliar new world.


 ON THE 3RD of April 1946, my journey from childhood to war was complete. I had departed home as a boy and returned three years later as a seasoned war veteran, husband, and expectant father. I had literally grown up in those three years and experienced a lifetime of excitement, as had many others of my generation. I hold no bitterness for being sent by my government to face the dangers of war; to the contrary, I believe it was my duty to serve my country and believe that I gained both physically and emotionally from the experience. I cannot remember the dreadful emotions of fear but I do recall pleasant memories of happy times and good friends. I have many tender and affectionate memories of Dave Thomas who was my B-24 commander, tent mate, friend, and surrogate older brother. With an incessant smile, patience, and a fierce concentration on details, he taught me to fly a B-24 and helped me survive the war. After finishing our tour of combat and separating, we would not meet again until 1988 at a crew reunion at Las Vegas, 42 years later. It would also be our last meeting. He died a short time later and only four of our ten crewmembers remain.  Each time I reflect on the young men I have know who never returned and the 50 million lives from many nations that were lost in this tragic war, I am compelled to ask, “Why was I spared?”  Why did I survive the same combat missions that many did not?  Why were other airplanes destroyed within a few short yards of my airplane? Why did enemy shells kill those around me, yet allow me to escape unscathed? I have poised these questions for many years but I have never received a satisfactory answer. With the passing of time, I am now certain that I will neither discover the answer to these questions nor will I ever receive a divine message decreeing which challenges I must overcome in exchange for my life. I can only accept my survival, be humbled by it, and consider it one of many blessings that have been bestowed on me.


The only certainty that came from my war experiences is that I learned several things about fear: I became aware that fear is manageable, that it can be controlled. It can be deal with when we accept and acknowledge that we are not always in charge of every situation—that only a greater power controls events. When I finally acknowledged this fact, I discovered that I was no longer paralyzed with fear and could concentrate on other necessary actions that might save me from destruction. I also became aware that although my memory may recall a frightful event, it cannot recreate the horrifying emotions that accompany it — I can only experience each frightening situation one time. Finally, based on my familiarity with fear, I came to the conclusion that it would be almost impossible to ever again encounter anything as frightful as war. Although I may encounter scary moments in the future, I was certain then that it would pale in comparison to air combat. At twenty years of age I had faced death 35 times—nothing in the future could ever be more frightening.


Finally, I salute my fallen comrades who believed as we all did then, that this great nation is worth fighting and dying for.  May they remain forever at peace on the battlefield, never again to fear ONE MORE MISSION.




Last Modified : 11/06/05 11:32 PM

Rodney B. Wilkerson

Copyright 2003