Octavia M. Bridgewater was one of Montana’s native daughters. One of the Tuskegee Army Nurses mentioned her as one of the older nurses. She was born to Samuel and Mamie Bridgewater on October 1, 1903 at Fort Harrison, Montana. Her father served in the Army with the 24th infantry, A Company, which was one of four Buffalo Soldier regiments. He also was a sergeant in the 12th infantry and was wounded in the Spanish-American War of 1898. She was a graduate of Helena High School in Montana. Bridgewater graduated from the Lincoln School of Nursing in New York City in 1930. During this period, Lincoln was one of two nursing schools in the North operating for blacks under a white administration. The other school was Harlem School of Nursing. She returned to Montana as a registered nurse in 1930. She was in the Army Nurse Corps from January 1, 1943 to November 29, 1945. During this period, she was promoted from second lieutenant to first lieutenant She was a medical nurse on the base. She served on ward four which was the general medical ward and also became a head nurse. She returned to civilian life as a maternity nurse at St. Peters Hospital. She died on December 18, 1985. (Independent Record, March 3, 2013, Helena Montana; Montana Historical Society website, http://mhs.mt.gov, including Montana Moments blog, Women in Military Service for America Memorial, Wings Over America base yearbook)
Thank you to Pia Winters Jordan, Project Director of the Tuskegee Airmen Nurses Project, for sharing with us the incredible legacy of nurses who served alongside the Airmen. We are honored to feature their history and stories.
Be sure to visit Tuskegee Airmen Nurses Project for more information!