She enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurses Corp on February 25, 1927, which eventually took her to the Philippines as the Director of Nurses in the South Pacific.
Lieutenant Colonel Nola Forrest led nurses from field hospitals into Leyte, setting up a field hospital in an old cathedral, under enemy fire, receiving more than 600 patients within the first three hours of the nurses' arrival.
Later, she led the detail of nurses into the liberation of Santo Thomas, taking over the care of the POW soldiers and nurses.
Afterward, when asked by Irving Berlin (who was entertaining troops with the USO) what she disliked the most about the Army, her response was her pants.
Lieutenant Colonel Nola Forrest retired from the army on September 30, 1946, and lived in the D.C. area until her death on July 30,1999, at the ripe age of 99.
Her life is memorialized in the book "Fearless Presence: The Story of Lieutenant Colonel Nola Forrest, who led the Army Nurses Through Heat, Rain, Mud, and Enemy Fire in WWII" by Eleanor Stoddard.
She rests in Arlington Cemetery.