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United States Navy Nurse Corps

United States Navy Nurse Corps

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The United States Navy Nurse Corps was officially established by Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 in 1908; however, unofficially, women had been working as nurses aboard Navy ships and in Navy hospitals for nearly 100 years.

Pre-1908



In 1811, Dr. William P.C. Barton
William P.C. Barton
William Paul Crillon Barton , was a medical botanist, physician, professor, naval surgeon, and botanical illustrator.-History:...

 became the first to officially recommend that female nurses be added to naval hospital staff. However, it wasn't until 19 June 1861 that a Navy Department circular order finally established the designation of Nurse, to be filled by junior enlisted men. Fifteen years later, the duties were transferred to the designation Bayman (US Navy Regulations, 1876). Although enlisted personnel were referred to as Nurses, their duties and responsibilities were more related to those of a Hospital Corpsman than to a nurse.

During the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, several African American women are noted to have served as paid crew aboard the hospital ship
Hospital ship
A hospital ship is a ship designated for primary function as a floating medical treatment facility or hospital; most are operated by the military forces of various countries, as they are intended to be used in or near war zones....

 Red Rover in the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 area in the position of nurse. The known names of four nurses are: Alice Kennedy, Sarah Kinno, Ellen Campbell and Betsy Young (Fowler). In addition volunteer nuns from the Catholic Sisters of the Holy Cross
Sisters of the Holy Cross
The Sisters of the Holy Cross headquartered on the same grounds as Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Indiana, is one of three Catholic congregations of religious sisters which trace their origins to the foundation of the Congregation of Holy Cross by the Blessed Father Basil Anthony-Marie Moreau,...

 also served aboard as nurses.

During the 1898 Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

, the Navy employed a modest number of female contract nurses in its hospitals ashore and sent trained male nurses to sea on the hospital ship Solace
USS Solace (AH-2)
The first USS Solace was a hospital ship in the United States Navy.Solace was built in 1896 and 1897 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia, and was operated as the SS Creole by the Cromwell Steamship Lines. The ship was acquired by the United States Navy on 7...

.

1908-1917



After the establishment of the Nurse Corps in 1908 by an Act of Congress, twenty women were selected as the first members and assigned to the Naval Medical School Hospital in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the navy did not provide room or board for them, and so the nurses - being a determined lot - rented their own house and provided their own meals. This would be just the first of many obstacles they would overcome on their compassionate march for service equality.

In time, the nurses would come to be known as "The Sacred Twenty" because they were the first women to serve formally as members of the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. The "Sacred Twenty", as shown in the photo at the top of this page, were Mary H. Du Bose; Adah M. Pendleton; Elizabeth M. Hewitt; Della V. Knight; Josephine Beatrice Bowman
Josephine Beatrice Bowman
Josephine Beatrice Bowman was the third Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps.-Early life:Josephine Beatrice Bowman was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on 19 December 1881. She graduated from nurses' training at the Medico-Chirurgical Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1904 and soon...

, the third Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps, 1922–1935; Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee
Lenah Higbee
Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, United States Navy , was a pioneering Navy nurse, who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I....

, the second Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps, 1911–1922; Esther Voorhees Hasson
Esther Hasson
Esther Voorhees Hasson was the first Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps. Prior to and after serving in the United States Navy Nurse Corps, she served as an Army nurse.-Early life:...

, the first Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps, 1908–1911 ; Martha E. Pringle; Elizabeth J. Wells; Clare L. De Ceu.; Elizabeth Leonhardt; Estelle Hine; Ethel R. Parsons; Florence T. Milburn; Boniface T. Small; Victoria White; Isabelle Rose Roy; Margaret D. Murray; Sara B. Myer; and Sara M. Cox. They would include three Nurse Corps Superintendents and twelve chief nurses.

The Nurse Corps gradually expanded to 160 on the eve of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. In addition to normal hospital and clinic duties, the nurses were active in training natives in U.S. overseas possessions as well as the Navy's male enlisted medical personnel. For a few months in 1913, Navy Nurses saw their first shipboard service, aboard Mayflower
USS Mayflower (PY-1)
USS Mayflower was the second ship in the United States Navy to have that name. Mayflower — a luxurious steam yacht built in 1896 by J. and G. Thompson, Clydebank, Scotland — was purchased by the Navy from the estate of Ogden Goelet and commissioned at New York Navy Yard on 24 March 1898,...

 and Dolphin
USS Dolphin (PG-24)
USS Dolphin —a gunboat/dispatch vessel—was the fourth ship of the United States Navy to be named for the dolphin. Dolphins keel was laid down by John Roach & Sons of Chester, Pennsylvania. She was launched on 12 April 1884, with Captain George Dewey in command, and commissioned on 8 December 1885...

. The first permanent shipboard positions came in late 1920, when Relief
USS Relief (AH-1)
The sixth USS Relief , the first ship of the U.S. Navy designed and built from the keel up as a hospital ship, was laid down 14 June 1917 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched 23 December 1919; and commissioned 28 December 1920 at Philadelphia, Comdr. Richmond C...

 went into commission with a medical staff that included Navy Nurses.

World War I



The April 1917 entry of the United States into the First World War brought a great expansion of the Nurse Corps, both Regular and Reserve.

In 1917-18, the Navy deployed five Base Hospital units to operational areas in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, with the first in place by late 1917. Also serving overseas were special Navy Operating Teams, including nurses, established for detached duty near the combat frontlines. Some of these teams were loaned to the Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 during 1918's intense ground offensives and worked in difficult field conditions far removed from regular hospitals.

During the war, 19 Navy Nurses died on active duty, over half of them from influenza. Three of the four Navy Cross
Navy Cross
The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

es awarded to wartime Navy Nurses went to victims of the fight against the deadly 'flu. The surviving fourth nurse was Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee
Lenah Higbee
Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, United States Navy , was a pioneering Navy nurse, who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I....

, the second superintendent of the corps, and the first living woman to receive the medal. In 1945, the USS Higbee
USS Higbee (DD-806)
USS Higbee was a in the United States Navy during World War II. She was the first US warship named for a female member of the U.S. Navy, being named for Chief Nurse Lenah S. Higbee , a pioneering Navy nurse who served as Superintendent of the U.S...

 became the fist fighting ship to be named after a woman in the service.

By the time of the Armistice
Armistice
An armistice is a situation in a war where the warring parties agree to stop fighting. It is not necessarily the end of a war, but may be just a cessation of hostilities while an attempt is made to negotiate a lasting peace...

 on 11 November 1918, over 1550 nurses had served in Naval hospitals and other facilities at home and abroad. Shortly after the fighting's end, several Navy Nurses were assigned to duty aboard transports bringing troops home from Europe. Some Navy Nurses even ventured on ground patrols and aided Army Soldiers during this time.

Interwar period


With the close of World War I, many turned away from all things war-related and by 1935 the Nurse Corps' numbers had reduced to 332. However, this reduction did not stop the corps from making advances; new courses of study in the areas of diet therapy, neuropsychiatry, physiotherapy, and anesthesia were introduced and it was these educational advances which were key to the steady rise in the corps' professional status within the service. Though generally treated as officers socially and professionally, and wearing uniform stripes similar to those for the officer ranks of Ensign through Lieutenant Commander, formal recognition as Commissioned officers, achieved by U.S. Army nurses in 1920, did not come until World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

It was also during this interwar period that paid retirement for longevity and disability was authorized as well as the extension of regular service to include Navy hospital ship
Hospital ship
A hospital ship is a ship designated for primary function as a floating medical treatment facility or hospital; most are operated by the military forces of various countries, as they are intended to be used in or near war zones....

s. In addition to caring for Naval personnel at home and abroad, the corps responded to a number of civil disasters and assisted in the evacuation of dependents from war-torn China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 in 1937.

World War II



Preparation for the conflict again saw the Nurse Corps grow, with nearly eight hundred members serving on active duty by November 1941, plus over nine hundred inactive reserves. By war's end there would be 1,799 active component nurses and 9,222 reserves scattered across six continents.

Navy nurses were on duty during the initial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, Kāneʻohe Bay, the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, and aboard the Solace
USS Solace (AH-5)
The second USS Solace was built in 1927 as the passenger ship SS Iroquois by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia...

; they were vital in preventing further loss of life and limb. In fact, the nursing profession's vital role was quickly recognized and it became the only women's profession that was deemed so essential as to be placed under the War Manpower Commission. Despite shortages of qualified nurses during the war, the navy was able to hold to its standards and enroll nurses of outstanding qualifications and experience. These outstanding nurses received advanced training in surgery, orthopedics, anesthesia, contagion, dietetics, physiotherapy, and psychiatry, the latter helping men understand and manage Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (then know as shell-shock) and battlefield fatigue. But the navy nurses' duties did not only include the tending to the injured and sick but also to the equally serious task of training Hospital Corpsmen. Many of these young men had never seen the inside of a hospital unless they themselves had been admitted, and as such it was training from the ground up. Once trained, the men were sent to work aboard fighting ships and on invasion beaches, where nurses were not yet officially assigned. Additionally, nurses trained WAVES
WAVES
The WAVES were a World War II-era division of the U.S. Navy that consisted entirely of women. The name of this group is an acronym for "Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service" ; the word "emergency" implied that the acceptance of women was due to the unusual circumstances of the war and...

 for the Hospital Corps.

In the Pacific, Navy Nurses were the first American women to be sent to the islands north of New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

, and the first group to Efate
Éfaté
Efate is an island in the Agean Ocean which is part of the Shefa Province in The Republic of Maliki. It is also known as Île Vate. It is the most populous island in Vanuatu. Efate's land area of makes it Vanuatu's third largest island. Most inhabitants of Efate live in Port Vila, the national...

, in the New Hebrides
New Hebrides
New Hebrides was the colonial name for an island group in the South Pacific that now forms the nation of Vanuatu. The New Hebrides were colonized by both the British and French in the 18th century shortly after Captain James Cook visited the islands...

. At Efate
Éfaté
Efate is an island in the Agean Ocean which is part of the Shefa Province in The Republic of Maliki. It is also known as Île Vate. It is the most populous island in Vanuatu. Efate's land area of makes it Vanuatu's third largest island. Most inhabitants of Efate live in Port Vila, the national...

 they cared for the wounded from the long Guadalcanal Campaign
Guadalcanal campaign
The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and codenamed Operation Watchtower by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theatre of World War II...

, Army as well as Navy and Marine personnel. Others were stationed in New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia is a special collectivity of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, east of Australia and about from Metropolitan France. The archipelago, part of the Melanesia subregion, includes the main island of Grande Terre, the Loyalty Islands, the Belep archipelago, the Isle of...

, the Solomons
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands is a sovereign state in Oceania, east of Papua New Guinea, consisting of nearly one thousand islands. It covers a land mass of . The capital, Honiara, is located on the island of Guadalcanal...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

, Coral Sea
Coral Sea
The Coral Sea is a marginal sea off the northeast coast of Australia. It is bounded in the west by the east coast of Queensland, thereby including the Great Barrier Reef, in the east by Vanuatu and by New Caledonia, and in the north approximately by the southern extremity of the Solomon Islands...

, Savo
Savo
Savo may refer to:* Savo Island near Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands* Battle of Savo Island, 9 August 1942* Savonian dialects of the Finnish language* Savonia or , a historical province of Finland* Savo - a main-belt asteroid...

, Samoa
Samoa
Samoa , officially the Independent State of Samoa, formerly known as Western Samoa is a country encompassing the western part of the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. It became independent from New Zealand in 1962. The two main islands of Samoa are Upolu and one of the biggest islands in...

, Tarawa, Attu
Attu
Attu may refer to:*A common name for the Dosa in Telugu*Attu Island in Alaska*The Battle of Attu, the primary land battle in the Aleutian Islands campaign of World War II, which took place on Attu Island in May 1943....

, Adak
Adak Island
Adak Island is an island near the western extent of the Andreanof Islands group of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Alaska's southernmost town, Adak, is located on the island...

, Dutch Harbor, Kwajalein
Kwajalein
Kwajalein Atoll , is part of the Republic of the Marshall Islands . The southernmost and largest island in the atoll is named Kwajalein Island. English-speaking residents of the U.S...

, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Saipan
Saipan
Saipan is the largest island of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , a chain of 15 tropical islands belonging to the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean with a total area of . The 2000 census population was 62,392...

, Tinian
Tinian
Tinian is one of the three principal islands of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.-Geography:Tinian is about 5 miles southwest of its sister island, Saipan, from which it is separated by the Saipan Channel. It has a land area of 39 sq.mi....

, Leyte
Leyte
Leyte is a province of the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is Tacloban City and occupies the northern three-quarters of the Leyte Island. Leyte is located west of Samar Island, north of Southern Leyte and south of Biliran...

, Samar
Samar
Samar, formerly and also known as Western Samar, is a province in the Philippines located in the Eastern Visayas region. Its capital is Catbalogan City and covers the western portion of Samar as well as several islands in the Samar Sea located to the west of the mainland...

, Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima, officially , is an island of the Japanese Volcano Islands chain, which lie south of the Ogasawara Islands and together with them form the Ogasawara Archipelago. The island is located south of mainland Tokyo and administered as part of Ogasawara, one of eight villages of Tokyo...

, and Okinawa. The purpose of these forward operating areas was stabilization. Only when patients were fully stabilized were they sent on to Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

, and then eventually to the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

.

In Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, navy nurses served in both England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and in North and South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 at Trinidad
Trinidad
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Bermuda
Bermuda
Bermuda is a British overseas territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. Located off the east coast of the United States, its nearest landmass is Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, about to the west-northwest. It is about south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and northeast of Miami, Florida...

, Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, and Newfoundland. Navy nurses were even stationed in Africa.

In the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

, navy nurses were stationed at 263 locations, consisting of both large naval hospital complexes such as USN Hospital San Diego, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 and Bethesda
National Naval Medical Center
The National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, USA — commonly known as the Bethesda Naval Hospital — was for decades the flagship of the United States Navy's system of medical centers. A federal institution, it conducted medical and dental research as well as providing health care for...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 as well as at a multitude of smaller naval convalescent hospitals and training station facilities. One of the more colorful convalescent hospitals was the USN Convalescent Hospital located at the Sun Valley Lodge in Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

. After the lodge - built by the Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad
The Union Pacific Railroad , headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, is the largest railroad network in the United States. James R. Young is president, CEO and Chairman....

 and its chairman W. Averell Harriman
W. Averell Harriman
William Averell Harriman was an American Democratic Party politician, businessman, and diplomat. He was the son of railroad baron E. H. Harriman. He served as Secretary of Commerce under President Harry S. Truman and later as the 48th Governor of New York...

 - opened in 1936, it quickly became a hotspot for the rich and famous. Notables included Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

 who worked on For Whom the Bell Tolls
For Whom the Bell Tolls
For Whom the Bell Tolls is a novel by Ernest Hemingway published in 1940. It tells the story of Robert Jordan, a young American in the International Brigades attached to a republican guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War. As an expert in the use of explosives, he is assigned to blow up a...

 in room #206, Clark Gable
Clark Gable
William Clark Gable , known as Clark Gable, was an American film actor most famous for his role as Rhett Butler in the 1939 Civil War epic film Gone with the Wind, in which he starred with Vivien Leigh...

, Errol Flynn
Errol Flynn
Errol Leslie Flynn was an Australian-born actor. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles in Hollywood films, being a legend and his flamboyant lifestyle.-Early life:...

, Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert
Claudette Colbert was a French-born American-based actress of stage and film.Born in Paris, France and raised in New York City, Colbert began her career in Broadway productions during the 1920s, progressing to film with the advent of talking pictures...

, Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

 and Gary Cooper
Gary Cooper
Frank James Cooper, known professionally as Gary Cooper, was an American film actor. He was renowned for his quiet, understated acting style and his stoic, but at times intense screen persona, which was particularly well suited to the many Westerns he made...

. However, as supporting the war became a top priority and recreation secondary, the lodge was converted into a hospital, opening its doors in July 1943. In 1946 it reverted back to its intended use. The story of the USN Convalescent Hospital is not unlike a host of other facilities which were converted, including the Averell Harriman estate in the Bear Mountains of the Catskills and the Ahwahnee Hotel
Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel is a destination hotel in Yosemite National Park, California, on the floor of Yosemite Valley, constructed from stone, concrete, wood and glass, which opened in 1927...

 at Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain...

.

Aboard hospital ships, navy nurses followed the fleet in their assaults, and were eventually permitted to go to the beaches with the fighting men to pick up the wounded. Early in the war only the USS Solace
USS Solace (AH-5)
The second USS Solace was built in 1927 as the passenger ship SS Iroquois by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Newport News, Virginia...

 and USS Relief
USS Relief (AH-1)
The sixth USS Relief , the first ship of the U.S. Navy designed and built from the keel up as a hospital ship, was laid down 14 June 1917 by the Philadelphia Navy Yard; launched 23 December 1919; and commissioned 28 December 1920 at Philadelphia, Comdr. Richmond C...

 brought comfort to the wounded fighting men via all-navy medical personnel. Later the Bountiful, Samaritan
USS Samaritan (AH-10)
USS Samaritan was a hospital ship that served with the US Navy in World War II. Prior to that, she served as a US Navy transport ship under the name USS Chaumont ....

, Refuge
USS Refuge (AH-11)
USS Refuge , was a hospital ship of the United States Navy during World War II. The ship was built in 1921 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., of Camden, New Jersey, as SS Blue Hen State, but was renamed SS President Madison in 1923 for service with American President Lines...

, Haven
USS Haven (AH-12)
USS Haven , was the lead ship of her class of hospital ships built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Laid down as SS Marine Hawk, she was transferred from the Maritime Commission for conversion to a hospital ship, and served in that capacity through the end of the war...

, Benevolence
USS Benevolence (AH-13)
USS Benevolence was built as SS Marine Lion in 1944 by Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Chester, Pa., under a Maritime Commission contract. 11,141 tons. 520 x 71.6 x 24. 24 knots. Sponsored by Mrs. Daisy Unter; transferred to the Navy 31 July 1944; converted to a hospital ship by Todd-Erie...

, Tranquility, Consolation
USS Consolation (AH-15)
USS Consolation was a Haven-class hospital ship originally in service with the United States Navy from 1945 to 1955. In 1960 she was chartered to the People to People Health Foundation and renamed and served for another 14 years until being scrapped in 1975.The USS Consolation was built as...

, Repose
USS Repose (AH-16)
USS Repose was a in service with the United States Navy, active from May 1945 to January 1950, from October 1950 to December 1954, and from October 1965 to May 1970...

, Sanctuary
USS Sanctuary (AH-17)
USS Sanctuary is a that served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and the Vietnam War. , she is still afloat with her final fate yet to be determined....

, and Rescue were added.




Prisoners of War


Two groups of Navy nurses were held prisoner by the Japanese in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Chief Nurse Marion Olds and nurses Leona Jackson
Wilma Leona Jackson
Capt Wilma Leona Jackson was the third Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, serving in that position from 1954 to 1958.-Early life:...

, Lorraine Christiansen, Virginia Fogerty and Doris Yetter were taken prisoner on Guam shortly after Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

 and transported to Japan. They were repatriated in August 1942, although the newspaper did not identify them as Navy nurses.

Chief Nurse Laura Cobb
Laura M. Cobb
Laura Mae Cobb was a member of the United States Navy Nurse Corps who served during World War II. She received numerous decorations for her actions during the defense of Manila and her 37 months as a POW of the Japanese, during which she continued to serve as Chief Nurse for ten other imprisoned...

 and her nurses, Mary Chapman, Bertha Evans, Helen Gorzelanski, Mary Harrington, Margaret Nash, Goldie O'Haver, Eldene Paige, Susie Pitcher, Dorothy Still and C. Edwina Todd (some of the "Angels of Bataan
Angels of Bataan
The Angels of Bataan were the members of the United States Army Nurse Corps and the United States Navy Nurse Corps who were stationed in the Philippines at the outset of the Pacific War and served during the Battle of the Philippines...

") were captured in 1942 and imprisoned in the Los Baños internment camp
Raid at Los Baños
The raid at Los Baños in the Philippines, early Friday morning on 23 February 1945, was executed by a combined U.S. Army Airborne and Filipino guerrilla task force, resulting in the liberation of 2,147 Allied civilian and military internees from an agricultural school campus turned Japanese...

, where they continued to function as a nursing unit, until they were rescued by American forces in 1945. Other Los Baños prisoners later said: "We are absolutely certain that had it not been for these nurses many of us who are alive and well would have died." The nurses were awarded the Bronze Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal
The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. As a medal it is awarded for merit, and with the "V" for valor device it is awarded for heroism. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the...

 by the Army, a second award by the Navy and the Army's Distinguished Unit Badge.

Ann Agnes Bernatitus, one of the Angels of Bataan
Angels of Bataan
The Angels of Bataan were the members of the United States Army Nurse Corps and the United States Navy Nurse Corps who were stationed in the Philippines at the outset of the Pacific War and served during the Battle of the Philippines...

, nearly became a POW; she was one of the last to escape Corregidor Island, via the USS Spearfish. Upon her return to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 she became the first American to receive the Legion of Merit
Legion of Merit
The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

.

Flight nurses



The first group of 24 navy flight nurses graduated from the Navy Flight Nurse School at the Alameda Naval Air Station on 22 January 1945. In addition to flight nurse procedures, they were trained to swim one mile, tow or push a victim for 220 yards, and swim 440 yards in 10 minutes. The newly minted flight nurses soon began active flying service on 24 flying teams, consisting of a nurse and a pharmacist's mate. Each 12-plane squadron operated with the following medical personnel: 24 flight nurses, 24 pharmacists' mates, one flight surgeon, and one Hospital Corps officer. After a certain number of transcontinental trips with wounded servicemen, the teams were sent to the Pacific to serve in the Naval Air Evacuation Service, the first arriving in Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 in early February 1945. There were three main flights of air evacuation planes to which flight nurses were assigned. First, from target areas to forward hospitals, such as Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

: second, from those forward hospitals to Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

; and third, from Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

 to the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

. Nurses were rotated so that flight hours did not exceed 100 per month and they were also rotated between combat and noncombat flights.

An efficient procedure for aerial evacuation from target areas was quickly developed. The squadron flight surgeon and several pharmacists' mates were on the first hospital plane to land on the captured airfield. The surgeon established an evacuation clearing station adjacent to the airstrip, where with the help of his corpsmen, he collected patients from the first-aid and holding stations and screened them for air transport, giving necessary treatment prior to flight. As soon as the second hospital plane landed, the flight nurse aboard received her orders. The plane was loaded and usually departed in approximately 45 minutes, the flight nurse being responsible for all patients aboard. With the corpsman's aid, she dressed wounds, administered whole blood or plasma, gave medications, and fed the patients. Using this procedure, within 30 days, approximately 4,500 injured men were flown out of Okinawa alone.





Flight nurse Jane "Candy" Kendeigh was among the first flight nurses to fly to and from an active battlefield in the Pacific when, on March 3, 1945, she flew round-trip from Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 to Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima, officially , is an island of the Japanese Volcano Islands chain, which lie south of the Ogasawara Islands and together with them form the Ogasawara Archipelago. The island is located south of mainland Tokyo and administered as part of Ogasawara, one of eight villages of Tokyo...

 to aid in the evacuation of wounded U.S. Marines. As luck would have it, Ensign Kendeigh was also aboard the Navy's first medical evacuation flight bound for Okinawa, making her the first Navy flight nurse on both Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima, officially , is an island of the Japanese Volcano Islands chain, which lie south of the Ogasawara Islands and together with them form the Ogasawara Archipelago. The island is located south of mainland Tokyo and administered as part of Ogasawara, one of eight villages of Tokyo...

 and Okinawa. After her heroic work in Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima
Iwo Jima, officially , is an island of the Japanese Volcano Islands chain, which lie south of the Ogasawara Islands and together with them form the Ogasawara Archipelago. The island is located south of mainland Tokyo and administered as part of Ogasawara, one of eight villages of Tokyo...

, she was sent back to the U.S. to participate in a War Bond drive. Soon after she started that assignment, she requested to be sent back into the Pacific combat zone. She flew her missions with Agana, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

 based Air Evacuation Transport Squadron One (VRE-1), which was an elite unit of the Naval Air Transport Service
Naval Air Transport Service
The Naval Air Transport Service or NATS, was a branch of the United States Navy from 1941 to 1948. At its height during WW II, NATS’s totaled four wings of 18 squadrons that operated 540 aircraft with 26,000 personnel assigned....

 (NATS).

Korea


The need for naval medical facilities in Asia grew when the war began. A small naval dispensary at Yokosuka, staffed by only six nurses, evolved into a full-fledged hospital staffed by 200 nurses. The Navy Nurse Corps expanded its ranks by recalling Reserve nurses with World War II experience. It temporarily reduced staffs at continental hospitals to staff the forward area. The Navy also commissioned civilian nurses. These nurses served in hospitals as well as aboard the USS Haven
USS Haven (AH-12)
USS Haven , was the lead ship of her class of hospital ships built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. Laid down as SS Marine Hawk, she was transferred from the Maritime Commission for conversion to a hospital ship, and served in that capacity through the end of the war...

 and two other Haven-class ships, where almost 35 percent of battle casualties were admitted through September 1952. These hospital ships were a new type of mobile hospital, moving from place to place, sometimes supporting the Inchon invasion or aiding the Hungnam evacuation, or simply shifting about the Korean coast as needed. Two senior Navy nurses, Commander Estelle Kalnoske Lange and Lieutenant Ruth Cohen, received the Bronze Star for their work on the Navy hospital ships.

Lt. Sarah Griffin Chapman, who had lost her lower left leg in an accident and retired prior to Korea, fought to be recalled to active duty so that she could teach other young amputees how to walk again.



Though outside the Korean theater, one aviation accident claimed the lives of 11 Navy nurses. The mishap occurred on the South Pacific island of Kwajalein on Sept. 19, 1950. These women were en route to hospitals in Japan to care for war casualties when their plane crashed into the Pacific shortly after take off.

Vietnam


In 1963 Lt. Bobbi Hovis volunteered to go to Vietnam, where she and four other nurses were tasked with converting a run-down Saigon apartment into the first US Navy Station Hospital—in four days.

The first four Navy Nurse Corps Officers to be injured in combat support occurred in Vietnam [Saigon] when LT Ruth Mason, LT Frances Crumpton, LT Barbara Wooster and LTJG Ann Darby Reynolds were wounded and later received the Purple Heart Medal. Navy nurses went on to serve: in the Provincial Health Assistance Program at Rach Gia from 1965 to 1968; on the USS Repose
USS Repose (AH-16)
USS Repose was a in service with the United States Navy, active from May 1945 to January 1950, from October 1950 to December 1954, and from October 1965 to May 1970...

 from January 1966 to May 1970 (reaching a full complement of 29 nurses by March 1966 and serving as many as 200 helicopter admissions during a 24 hour period of intense fighting); on the USS Sanctuary
USS Sanctuary (AH-17)
USS Sanctuary is a that served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and the Vietnam War. , she is still afloat with her final fate yet to be determined....

 from April 1967 to November 1972 (also with a complement of 29 nurses); and at the station hospital at DaNang from August 1967 to May 1970 (which became the largest combat casualty treatment facility in the world, with 600 beds and admissions of 63,000 patients).

Currently


Navy Nurses are deployed all over the world; participating in humanitarian and combat support missions with Fleet Surgical Teams, as flight nurses, aboard hospital ships and aircraft carriers, and boots on ground with the Marine Corps and Army.

Modern Nurse Corps


The Nurse Corps continues as a prominent part of the Navy Medicine establishment. , the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps is Rear Admiral (upper half) Elizabeth S. Niemyer, the 23rd Director of the Navy Nurse Corps. Currently, it consists of officers of the rank of Ensign
Ensign
An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry...

 and to Rear Admiral (upper half). Navy Nurse Corps officers are commissioned through ROTC, STA-21, MECP, Nurse Candidate Program, or by direct commission.

Insignia and badges


The Nurse Corps has a distinctive insignia of a single Oak Leaf, on one collar point, or in place of a line officer's star on shoulder boards.

Navy Nurse Corps Officers are eligible to earn and wear the Fleet Marine Force, Surface, and Flight Nurse warfare badges. Navy Nurse Corps Officers can also earn the Army combat badge but are not currently authorized to wear it.
See also: Flight Nurse Badge
Flight Nurse Badge
The Flight Nurse Badge is a military badge of the United States armed forces which is issued by the U.S. Air Force and United States Navy to flight nurses...

 (USN & USAF)

Superintendents and directors


From its founding in 1908 until after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1947, the Navy Nurse Corps was led by a superintendent. Its nurses had no permanent commissioned rank. The Army-Navy Nurses Act took effect on 16 April 1947, establishing the Navy Nurse Corps as a staff corps, with officers holding permanent commissioned rank from ensign to commander. The corps was to be led by a director holding the rank of captain while in that position.

List of Superintendents of the Navy Nurse Corps

      • Esther Voorhees Hasson
Esther Hasson
Esther Voorhees Hasson was the first Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps. Prior to and after serving in the United States Navy Nurse Corps, she served as an Army nurse.-Early life:...

  ( August 1908 –   January 1911)
      • Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee
Lenah Higbee
Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, United States Navy , was a pioneering Navy nurse, who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I....

  ( January 1911 –   November 1922)
      • LCDR Josephine Beatrice Bowman
Josephine Beatrice Bowman
Josephine Beatrice Bowman was the third Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps.-Early life:Josephine Beatrice Bowman was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on 19 December 1881. She graduated from nurses' training at the Medico-Chirurgical Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1904 and soon...

  ( November 1922 –   January 1935)
      • LCDR Myn M. Hoffman
Myn M. Hoffman
-Early life:Myn M. Hoffman was born in Bradford, Illinois, on 12 May 1883. After several years as an educator, she attended St. Joseph's Hospital Training School for Nurses in Denver, Colorado, graduating in 1915.-Navy Nurse Corps career:...

  ( January 1935 –   October 1938)
      • Virginia Rau (acting)   ( October 1938 –   February 1939)
      • CAPT Sue S. Dauser
Sue S. Dauser
Sue S. Dauser was the fifth Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, guiding the Nurse Corps through World War II.-Early life:Sue Sophia Dauser was born in Anaheim, California, on 20 September 1888. She graduated from the California Hospital School of Nursing in 1914.-Navy Nurse Corps...

  ( February 1939 –   November 1945)
      • CAPT Nellie Jane DeWitt
Nellie Jane DeWitt
Captain Nellie Jane DeWitt was the sixth and final Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps and became its first Director.-Early life:Nellie Jane DeWitt was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania to Peter and Ella C DeWitt and grew up on her family's farm in Jackson, Pennsylvania...

  ( November 1945 –   April 1947)

List of Directors of the Navy Nurse Corps




      • CAPT Nellie Jane DeWitt
Nellie Jane DeWitt
Captain Nellie Jane DeWitt was the sixth and final Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps and became its first Director.-Early life:Nellie Jane DeWitt was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania to Peter and Ella C DeWitt and grew up on her family's farm in Jackson, Pennsylvania...

  ( April 1947 –   May 1950)
      • CAPT Winnie Gibson
Winnie Gibson
Captain Winnie Gibson was the second director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, serving in that position from 1950 to 1954.-Navy Nurse Corps career:...

  ( May 1950 –   May 1954)
      • CAPT Wilma Leona Jackson
Wilma Leona Jackson
Capt Wilma Leona Jackson was the third Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, serving in that position from 1954 to 1958.-Early life:...

  ( May 1954 –   May 1958)
      • CAPT Ruth Agatha Houghton   ( May 1958 –   April 1962)
      • CAPT Ruth Alice Erickson
Ruth Alice Erickson
Captain Ruth Alice Erickson was the Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, serving in that position from 1962 to 1966. As a LT in the Navy Nurse Corps, she witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941.-Early life:...

  ( April 1962 –   April 1966)
      • Captain Veronica Bulshefski
Veronica Bulshefski
Captain Veronica M. Bulshefski was the Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, serving in that position from 20 April 1966 to 1 May 1970.-Early life:Veronica Bulshefski was born on 2 February 1916 in Ashley, Pennsylvania...

  ( April 1966 –   May 1970)
      • Rear Admiral Alene B. Duerk
Alene B. Duerk
Rear Admiral Alene Bertha Duerk, USN, was the first woman to be selected for flag rank in the U. S. Navy and was advanced to that rank on June 1, 1972. She was Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps from 1970 to 1975....

 
  ( May 1970 –   July 1975)
      • Rear Admiral Maxine Conder
Maxine Conder
Rear Admiral Maxine Conder was Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps from 1975 to 1979-Early life:Born in 1924, Maxine Conder is a native of the state of Utah. She earned her nursing diploma in 1947 from St...

 
  ( July 1975 –   July 1979)
      • Rear Admiral Frances Shea-Buckley
Frances Shea-Buckley
Retired Rear Admiral Frances Teresa Shea-Buckley was the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps from 1979 to 1983.-Early life:Frances Teresa Shea was born in 1929 in Massachusetts. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from St...

 
  ( July 1979 –   October 1983)
      • Rear Admiral Mary Joan Nielubowicz
Mary Joan Nielubowicz
Retired Rear Admiral Mary Joan Nielubowicz was the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps from 1983 to 1987.-Early life:Mary Joan Nielubowicz was born on 5 February 1929 in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania to Joseph and Ursula Nielubowicz and graduated from Shenandoah Catholic High School...

 
  ( October 1983 –   September 1987)
      • Rear Admiral Mary Fields Hall
Mary Fields Hall
Retired Rear Admiral Mary Fields Hall was the Director of the Navy Nurse Corps from 1987 to 1991. She was the first U. S. military nurse to command a hospital. She became the commanding officer at Naval Hospital, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in July 1983, and later commanded Naval Hospital, Long Beach,...

 
  ( September 1987 –   September 1991)
      • Rear Admiral Mariann Stratton
Mariann Stratton
Rear Admiral Mariann Stratton was the Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps from 1991 to 1994.-Biography:Born in Houston, Texas, Stratton joined the Navy Nurse Corps in 1964 and attended school on a Navy Nurse Corps Candidate Scholarship. She graduated from Sacred Heart Dominican College...

 
  ( September 1991 –   September 1994)
      • Rear Admiral Joan Marie Engel
Joan Marie Engel
Rear Admiral Joan Marie Engel held the position as the 18th Director of the Navy Nurse Corps from September 1994 to August 1998. She concurrently served as deputy commander for personnel management in the Health Sciences, Education and Training Command, and later as assistant chief for Education,...

 
  ( September 1994 –   1998)
      • Rear Admiral Kathleen L. Martin
Kathleen L. Martin
Rear Admiral Kathleen L. Martin served as Deputy Surgeon General of the Navy/Vice Chief, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery from October 2002 until her retirement in September 2005. She also held the position as the 19th Director of the Navy Nurse Corps from August 1998 to August 2001.-Navy Nurse...

 
  ( 1998 –   2001)
      • Rear Admiral (upper half) Nancy J. Lescavage
Nancy J. Lescavage
Rear Admiral Nancy J. Lescavage recently served as the 20th Director of the Navy Nurse Corps and was the Commander, Naval Medical Education and Training Command, Bethesda, Md.-Early life:...

 
  ( 2001 –   2005)
      • Rear Admiral (upper half) Christine Bruzek-Kohler
Christine Bruzek-Kohler
Rear Admiral Christine M. Bruzek-Kohler was the 21st Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, and served as the Commander Naval Medical Center San Diego and Navy Medicine West from May 2009 to August 2010...

 
  ( 2005 –   2009)
      • Rear Admiral (upper half) Karen Flaherty
Karen Flaherty
Rear Admiral Karen Flaherty assumed duties as the Deputy Surgeon General of Navy Medicine at the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery as of August 6, 2010...

 
  ( 2009 –   2010)
      • Rear Admiral (upper half) Elizabeth S. Niemyer    ( 2010 –   current)

Prominent members

  • Chief Nurse Esther Voorhees Hasson
    Esther Hasson
    Esther Voorhees Hasson was the first Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps. Prior to and after serving in the United States Navy Nurse Corps, she served as an Army nurse.-Early life:...

    , first Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps
  • Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee
    Lenah Higbee
    Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, United States Navy , was a pioneering Navy nurse, who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I....

    , second Superintendent, first living female recipient of Navy Cross
    Navy Cross
    The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

    , first woman in the service to have fighting ship carry her name
  • Edna E. Place, Marie L. Hidell, and Lilian M. Murphy; first Nurse Corps officers award - posthumously - the Navy Cross
    Navy Cross
    The Navy Cross is the highest decoration that may be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and the second highest decoration given for valor. It is normally only awarded to members of the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard, but can be awarded to all...

     fighting the Influenza Pandemic
    Influenza pandemic
    An influenza pandemic is an epidemic of an influenza virus that spreads on a worldwide scale and infects a large proportion of the human population. In contrast to the regular seasonal epidemics of influenza, these pandemics occur irregularly, with the 1918 Spanish flu the most serious pandemic in...

     - World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    .
  • Chief Nurse Marion Olds, Leona Jackson, Lorraine Christiansen, Virginia Fogerty, and Doris Yetter, first Navy Nurse Corps Officers taken as POWs - World War I
    World War I
    World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

  • Captain Sue S. Dauser
    Sue S. Dauser
    Sue S. Dauser was the fifth Superintendent of the United States Navy Nurse Corps, guiding the Nurse Corps through World War II.-Early life:Sue Sophia Dauser was born in Anaheim, California, on 20 September 1888. She graduated from the California Hospital School of Nursing in 1914.-Navy Nurse Corps...

    , first woman in the Navy to be promoted to the rank of Captain O-6 - World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    .
  • Captain Ann Agnes Bernatitus, first American recipient of the Legion of Merit
    Legion of Merit
    The Legion of Merit is a military decoration of the United States armed forces that is awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements...

     and member of the "Angels of Bataan
    Angels of Bataan
    The Angels of Bataan were the members of the United States Army Nurse Corps and the United States Navy Nurse Corps who were stationed in the Philippines at the outset of the Pacific War and served during the Battle of the Philippines...

    " - World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

    .
  • Rear Admiral Alene B. Duerk
    Alene B. Duerk
    Rear Admiral Alene Bertha Duerk, USN, was the first woman to be selected for flag rank in the U. S. Navy and was advanced to that rank on June 1, 1972. She was Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps from 1970 to 1975....

    , first woman in the Navy to be promoted to flag rank.
  • LT Ruth Mason, LT Frances Crumpton, LT Barbara Wooster and LT(jg) Ann Darby Reynolds; the first Navy Nurse Corps Officers to receive a Purple Heart Medal - Vietnam
    Vietnam
    Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

    .
  • LT Barney R. Barendse, first Navy Nurse Corps Officer to command a surgical company during combat operations - Operation Desert Storm). Awarded Bronze Star Medal
    Bronze Star Medal
    The Bronze Star Medal is a United States Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. As a medal it is awarded for merit, and with the "V" for valor device it is awarded for heroism. It is the fourth-highest combat award of the...

    .
  • CAPT Albert Shimkus, first Navy Nurse Corps Officer to command a hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20)
    USNS Comfort (T-AH-20)
    USNS Comfort is the third United States Navy ship to bear the name Comfort, and the second to join the navy fleet. The USNS prefix identifies the Comfort as a non-commissioned ship owned by the U.S. Navy and crewed by civilians. In accordance with the Geneva Conventions, USNS Comfort and her...

    .
  • CDR Lenora C.Langlais, first African American Nurse Corps Officer to receive a Purple Heart Medal - Operation Iraqi Freedom.
  • CDR Kim Lebel, first Navy Nurse Corps Officer to receive a Purple Heart Medal - Operation Enduring Freedom.

Ships named after Navy Nurse Corps Officers

  • USS Higbee (DD-806)
    USS Higbee (DD-806)
    USS Higbee was a in the United States Navy during World War II. She was the first US warship named for a female member of the U.S. Navy, being named for Chief Nurse Lenah S. Higbee , a pioneering Navy nurse who served as Superintendent of the U.S...

     (First U.S. Navy warship named in honor of a woman - 2nd Superintendent of Navy Nurses Lenah Higbee
    Lenah Higbee
    Chief Nurse Lenah H. Sutcliffe Higbee, United States Navy , was a pioneering Navy nurse, who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps during World War I....

    )
  • USS Dorothea L. Dix (AP-67)
    USS Dorothea L. Dix (AP-67)
    USS Dorothea L. Dix was a transport ship of the United States Navy named for Dorothea Dix .Dorothea L. Dix was launched on 22 June 1940 as Exemplar by Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, under a Maritime Commission contract; sponsored by Miss P. J...

     (First Superintendent of Army Nurses Dorothea Dix
    Dorothea Dix
    Dorothea Lynde Dix was an American activist on behalf of the indigent insane who, through a vigorous program of lobbying state legislatures and the United States Congress, created the first generation of American mental asylums...

    )

See also

  • Army Nurse Corps
    Army Nurse Corps (United States)
    The United States Army Nurse Corps was formally established by the U.S. Congress in 1901. It is one of the six medical Special Branches of officers which – along with medical enlisted soldiers – comprise the Army Medical Department ....

  • Air Force Nurse Corps
  • Women in the United States Navy
    Women in the United States Navy
    Women have served in the United States Navy for over a century. Today, there are over 52,391 women serving on active duty in an array of traditional and non-traditional ratings or careers...

  • Angels of Bataan
    Angels of Bataan
    The Angels of Bataan were the members of the United States Army Nurse Corps and the United States Navy Nurse Corps who were stationed in the Philippines at the outset of the Pacific War and served during the Battle of the Philippines...



Further reading


In and Out of Harm's Way: A history of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps.
by Doris M. Sterner Fact filled, extensively researched account of the evolution of the roles of women in the United States Navy, treating the parallel and entertwined paths of the Navy Nurse Corps and the WAVES. About one-third of the pages are devoted to notes and bibliography.

External links