In May, five months after the battle began, remaining U.S. forces surrendered to the Japanese. The men on Corregidor were sent on the fabled Bataan Death March on their way to the harshest of treatment in prisoner of war camps.
Manning and her colleagues had a different ordeal ahead of them. Also taken prisoner, they were returned to Manila and held at a prison camp on the campus of Santo Tomas University, along with 4,000 civilians, mostly Americans. Over the course of the next three years, short on medicine, food, clean water, and supplies of all kinds, the nurses continued their work, treating fellow prisoners even as their own health deteriorated. While in captivity, Manning suffered from beri-beri, dengue fever, and malnutrition.
Still, she and her fellow nurses carried on. “We were scared and tired, but we kept working,” Manning told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2001. “We were under terrific strain, but we just did our job even when we were weak from not eating.”
The ordeal continued until February 3, 1945, when a U.S. tank rolled through the gates of Santo Tomas. Remarkably, not one of the 77 Army or Navy nurses sent to the camp perished.
After her liberation, Manning was sent on a tour to promote war bonds, during which she met her future husband, an editor at the Atlanta Constitution. She subsequently returned to work as a nurse in Jacksonville, Florida, and is survived by a daughter, a son, five grandchildren, and a legacy of commitment and heroism.
Military nurses' contributions and sacrifices are often underreported and unappreciated, but Manning's tale is captured movingly in obituaries in The New York Times and Washington Post.