Although the Allies declared victory on the Western Front on May 8, 1945, the 12th General Hospital continued to tend to the influx of patients from evacuation hospitals throughout May and June. Some of the staff were re-assigned to units stationed in the Pacific Theater while others were able to return to the United States. With a dwindling number of patients on the wards, 12th General Hospital personnel helped teach the business, language, and high school courses arranged by the Peninsula Base Section that were intended to help integrate soldiers back into civilian society as well as compiled numerous reports about their work in Algeria and Italy.
The 12th General Hospital facility in Livorno became the Peninsular Medical Center Staging Area in July, which changed the dynamic of such a tightly-knit group. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August, Michael Mason was appointed the commanding officer of the 12th General Hospital Unit and became responsible for ensuring that accounts were in order, records were finalized, and property was returned to its authorized recipients before setting sail for America on September 29, 1945.
Following the War, some members of the Unit remained in the Army reserves, but most re-dedicated themselves to their Chicago medical practices and Northwestern University Medical School positions. Adjusting to civilian life was difficult for some of the staff who faced insecurity in meeting their basic needs and were looked down upon by their peers who did not serve. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that their experiences as part of the 12th General Hospital Unit influenced these men’s and women’s work as medical practitioners and even helped shape ideas about how to handle medical crises on a mass-scale in the United States.
While the military service of the 12th General Hospital resembled those of other medical units, they proved to face their challenges with an exceptional degree of professionalism and devotion to duty. Several individuals received honors for their efforts during the North African and Mediterranean Campaigns, and the Unit was awarded the Meritorious Plaque on June 16, 1945. Colonel John Sturgeon, the Commanding Officer of the 12th General Hospital Unit, later affirmed, “The record speaks for itself. Never did a group work harder, more loyally, or more efficiently…Whatever you of the 12th may be or whatever the future may have in store for you, it is my prayer you may always succeed as you did with the 12th General Hospital.” Thus in seeking to represent Northwestern in the wards and operating rooms overseas on behalf of their country , this group of doctors, nurses, and enlisted men contributed to a world-wide struggle, fulfilling their operation to save many lives.