More frightened of water than German bombshells, as an Army nurse in WWII—‘non-swimmer’ Marcy Korda endorses Pelican pool project so kids have opportunity to learn

Unsurprisingly, swimming was not a priority for an Iowa farmgirl.

This might have been a life-saving skill—if Marcy Korda had gone overboard when the hospital ship was bombed and on the verge of sinking to the bottom of the Mediterranean in World War II. 

“I didn’t learn to swim,” recalled Marcy Korda. The Second World War veteran celebrated her 100th birthday on Feb. 22. As a taskmaster, from MASH field tents in Italy to community involvement in Pelican, she’s not only reflecting on the past—but she is also considering future generations of young swimmers.

Moving to Pelican Rapids after the war with husband, Dr. Henry Korda, there were a few new reasons to learn to swim: 

— She was surrounded by lakes. 

— The Korda family would grow to five children. 

“All the kids could swim like fish,” said Marcy. 

“I took lessons with the kids, off and on for about five or six years,” said Marcy, “I tried for years.” 

Finally, time came for the big test: Swimming out to the raft and back. “I got so far, until I realized I couldn’t touch bottom. I froze.”

The young Pelican swimming teacher at the time saved her from the depths; looked at her; and concluded “Marcy…give it up. Forget it.” 

True confessions: The Army nurse that kept her cool during enemy shelling in Italy, 1943-44 was afraid—of water. 

So, she spent most of her time at the family’s Pelican Lake getaway “floating around on a rubber raft.” 

She’s especially enthused about the present campaign for a new Pelican Rapids swimming pool. 

“The pool project seems to be going forward like it should. That’s a really good deal,” said Marcy in a recent phone conversation. “This will give kids coming up a chance to learn to swim. Not everybody can live on a lake where they can swim often.” 

The Kordas owned a place at two different locations on Pelican Lake from about 1947 to 1975, first near Haugen’s Point and later in the Broadwater Beach neighborhood. 

Dr. Henry Korda, who died in 1990, was Pelican’s Family doctor from 1946 to 1981.

For the most part, Marcy retired from active nursing after the war—though she assisted the Korda family practice in the early years, and mostly in the background in later years.