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Kiyoko M. Marvel, nurse who treated wounded in three wars

Kiyoko M. Marvel, a registered nurse who treated the wounded in World War II and, later, the Korean and Vietnam wars, died May 3.
Kiyoko M. Marvel, a registered nurse who treated the wounded in World War II and, later, the Korean and Vietnam wars, died May 3. (HANDOUT)

Kiyoko M. Marvel, a registered nurse who treated the wounded during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, and later worked for a Glen Burnie physician, died May 3 of cardiovascular disease at Hart Heritage Estate, an assisted-living facility in Street.

The resident of Madonna in Harford County was 90.

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At 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1945, Mrs. Marvel was working in a Japanese military hospital operating room four railroad stations away from Hiroshima when the U.S. dropped its first atomic bomb.

"The surgeon immediately ordered everyone into the shelter and said that he 'would need them all later,'" said her husband of 45 years, Alan C. Marvel, a retired Maryland Air National Guard vehicle maintenance supervisor, machinist and gunsmith.

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"I am not sure whether the hospital where she was working treated any of the victims of the bombing or not," he said. "She did not talk about it."

"She said she saw the [mushroom] cloud, but what protected them was a low mountain range between the downtown and the hospital," said Dr. James R. Appleton, a retired ear, nose and throat specialist, for whom she worked. "She made it through and had no long-term effects from it."

"Kiyoko never really talked about what happened that day. I guess it was too painful," said Theresa Baynes, a close friend who lives in Jarrettsville.

The daughter of Jisabro Miura, a rice wholesaler, and Shija Miura, a homemaker, Kiyoko Miura was born and raised in Choshi, Japan, where she graduated from high school.

"Her father had died when she was 10, and she attended a government nursing school in Tokyo because of finances," her husband said.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Mrs. Marvel was a contract nurse who worked for the U.S. Air Force at at the old Johnson Air Force Base, which is now the Iruma Air Base, at Sayama, Japan, north of Tokyo, and for the 7th Army Field Hospital, which was also located on the air base.

"It's ironic that she had treated Japanese wounded during the war and then American wounded during the Korean and Vietnam wars," her husband said.

Mr. Marvel was working at the 7th Army Field hospital in 1967 when she met Dr. Appleton, an Army surgeon.

"We had about 30 American nurses and were supplemented by half a dozen Japanese contract nurses. Kiyoko was the best of them all," Dr. Appleton wrote in a sympathy letter to her husband.

"Her gentleness, soft voice and polite nodding of head, as Japanese custom mandates, made her a favorite of many a GI patient and with those who worked with her," he wrote.

Mrs. Marvel's work with burn victims was challenging.

"I recall she was given the task of anesthetizing by sedation second- and third-degree burn patients with IV sodium amytal just prior to two or three husky medics scrubbing the burn wounds with large brushes," he wrote.

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"She took on all the dirty jobs the Army dished out, and she was so gentle," said Dr. Appleton in a telephone interview from his Lake Mary, Fla., home.

In late 1968, Dr. Appleton was in the process of being discharged from the Army, but before he left Japan, he asked Mrs. Marvel if she would come to the United States and work for him.

"She thought about it all for one minute and giggled a 'Yes, Doctor-san' — she always called me that," he said in the interview.

The next day, Dr. Appleton and his wife, Linda, accompanied Mrs. Marvel to the American Embassy in Tokyo to help her apply for a work visa, and were told it would take at least a year for the visa to be issued.

"Well, I had no practice going yet, and with only $800 separation pay to my name on arriving in Glen Burnie, I opened an office," he wrote. "Exactly one year later, she phoned us from Japan saying, 'I have my visa.'"

For the next 30 years, beginning in 1969, Dr. Appleton and Mrs. Marvel worked together, often seeing 35 to 50 patients in the afternoon.

"Mornings were for hospital surgery, so she didn't need to be at work until noon or so. One time she came in with a pedometer on her arm and measured seven miles of working, jogging and running around to set up exam rooms, treating sinus patients with a nasal rinse we used, and minor office surgeries," Dr. Appleton wrote.

"I never had to ask for instruments or anything else as she knew what I would use, and it was there as if by magic," he recalled in the letter. "What an assistant she was."

A mutual friend brought Mr. Marvel and his future wife together.

"My friend called and asked if I would like a Japanese meal, and it had been some time since I had enjoyed one," he said. "She had invited Kiyoko, and so, we liked one another, started dating, fell in love, and married at the end of 1971."

When the couple moved from Essex to Madonna, Mrs. Marvel was facing a daily round-trip commute of 100 miles to and from Glen Burnie.

"So she decided to quit, but Dr. Appleton said he needed her and would pay for her gas. She then wore out two cars making that trip before she retired," her husband said.

She retired in 1998 at the same time Dr. Appleton did.

Dr. Appleton recalled in his letter Mrs. Marvel's cooking.

"On visits to Ocean City, Kiyoko would surprise us with one of her special Japanese dishes based on seaweed gathered from the beach," he wrote. "She would wash every strand by hand to remove oils, dirt and bugs and then make a fantastic rice-herbs-seaweed-fish banquet. Fantastic."

He also recalled the time when Mrs. Marvel and her visiting sisters from Japan attended the Glen Burnie Rotary Club crab feast.

"They put on their kimonos and tried to eat crabs with chopsticks," he said. "The crowd greeted them warmly, and the Glen Burnie Gazette took photos for publication."

"We met her through Al and we became very good friends." Mrs. Baynes said. "We used to go with them to breakfasts, lunches and dinners. They were such a wonderful couple."

When her husband, William Allen Baynes Sr., a Marine Corps veteran and co-owner of a Baltimore steel fabrication company, had a heart operation in 2013, Mrs. Marvel visited him twice a day.

"He had to have an injection in his stomach twice a day, and Kiyoko would come over and take care of it. He used to call her 'Doc,'" Mrs. Baynes said. "She'd do anything for anybody. She was very kind, had a soft touch, and was soft-spoken."

Mrs. Marvel enjoyed teaching mah-jongg at the Jacksonville Senior Center, knitting, crocheting and working with stained glass and ceramics. She also liked tending a large vegetable garden, which she had maintained for 40 years.

At her request, no funeral services will be held.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by a stepdaughter, Michiale Peterson of Edgemere; a grandson; and a brother and three sisters who live in Japan.

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