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Anna Mae Hays, first U.S. Girl popular, dies at 97

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Anna Mae Hays, an Army nurse who served in a mud-caked jungle medical institution in World War II, guided the Army Nurse Corps through the bloodiest years of the Vietnam War and have become the primary female fashionable in American navy history, died Jan. 7 at a retirement home in Washington, D.C. She changed into ninety-seven.

The purpose changed into headaches from a coronary heart assault, stated a niece, Doris Kressly.

The daughter of Salvation Army officials, Hays had dreamed of turning into a nurse considering that she was a young girl, wrapping bandages across the legs of a kitchen table wherein her mother and father regularly invited the infirm to dinner. She went on, in Vietnam, to supervise a four,500-man or woman nursing corps whose robust use of antibiotics, entire-blood transfusions, and rapid helicopter evacuations become unexpected whilst she started out supporting docs at a dust-floored hospital in Ledo, India, in January 1943.

Working in a malaria-infested stretch of the China-Burma-India theater, she treated gangrenous production people who had been constructing a brand new roadway that supplied the Chinese army in its warfare in opposition to Japan, as well as lice-infested participants of the special-operations Army unit known as Merrill’s Marauders.

Most of her workforce turned into unwell with malaria, dysentery or dengue fever, she later stated in an Army oral records, and at one time she found herself hospitalized and noticed a cobra underneath her bed. She frivolously asked a shield to shoot it, later explaining, “When one lives in the jungle, you can actually expect that sort of aspect.”

Hays treated a number of the earliest casualties of the Korean War, assisting establish the primary military health center in Inchon, and as leader of the Army Nurse Corps from 1967 till her retirement four years later, she helped bolster its ranks for the duration of the conflict in Vietnam.

As a part of an attempt to make bigger scholarship opportunities and academic requirements for Army nurses, Hays “persuaded the Army that nursing turned into essential sufficient to put money into — a tough sell at that time,” said Sanders Marble, the senior historian within the Army’s Office of Medical History.

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She additionally helped push through Army policy modifications that paved the way for ladies inside the navy, such as the 1970 establishment of maternity depart for female officials. Through her efforts, married officials were now not mechanically discharged from the ranks for becoming pregnant, and a provision became eliminated that limited moms’ potential to enroll in the Army Nurse Corps Reserve.

Hays resisted a close affiliation with feminism — “Let’s no longer speak approximately this,” she told The New York Times in 1970, while asked about the burgeoning girls’ liberation motion. But she nevertheless became an image of unprecedented woman advancement on June eleven, 1970, whilst she changed into promoted to the one-megastar rank of brigadier general.

Until 3 years earlier, the rank was barred to her via law. Legislation beneath President Lyndon B. Johnson unfolded the opportunity of a female preferred — the primary “inside the Western global given that Joan of Arc,” Gen. William Westmoreland stated — and in 1970 President Richard M. Nixon made precise on the new policies, selecting for promotion Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington, chief of the Women’s Army Corps.

Whether with the aid of distinctive feature of alphabetic order, seniority or an easy twist of fate, Hays obtained her rank first, just a few mins earlier than Hoisington. In a Pentagon ceremony attended by using the wife of one in all Hays’ former patients, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Westmoreland gave her the rank’s silver superstar insignia and what Time magazine defined as “a brassy kiss” at the lips.

It changed into, the Army chief of the group of workers joked, all a part of “a new protocol for congratulating lady generals.”

The congratulatory % has long gone via the wayside, as dozens of women have given that grow to be trendy officials. Gen. Ann Dunwoody considerably broke the “brass ceiling” in 2008 to grow to be the military’s first female 4-megastar preferred.

At the time, however, Hays’ promotion was greeted with astonishment from a few quarters and derision from others. With exact humor, she recalled receiving a letter from Germany addressed to the “Chief of the Feminine Army Sanitary Corps,” and seeing a political cartoon that showed guys at a bar.

“Well, we’ve got the entirety, Sarge,” the caption examine, “the atomic bomb, guided missiles, the M16 rifle, and now girl generals.”

Anna Mae Violet McCabe becomes born in Buffalo on Feb. 16, 1920, and graduated from excessive college in Allentown, Pa. She acquired a nursing degree in 1941 from Allentown General Hospital’s School of Nursing and soon joined the Army Nurse Corps, stimulated to serve after the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor.

Hays, who took her closing call from her husband, William Hays, who died in 1962, carried out a lot of her peacetime service at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, in which she rose to become leader nurse in the emergency room. It turned into there that she met Eisenhower, who was hospitalized for an intestinal ailment for about one month in 1956 and whom she was taken into consideration a lifelong buddy.

Hays received a bachelor’s degree in nursing education from Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1958 and graduated from the Catholic University of America in 1968 with a master’s diploma in nursing. Her navy honors blanketed the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

A former resident of Arlington, Virginia, she leaves no immediate survivors, although buddies on occasion endorsed her to begin a circle of relatives.

One day after she became promoted to general, she discovered herself at the hairdresser’s next to Westmoreland’s wife, Kitsy, Westmoreland later stated. “I wish you’d get married once more,” Kitsy stated. When Hays requested why she spoke back: “I just need some man to know what it’s want to be married to a widespread.”

About the author / 

Shirley D. McCormick

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