Chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps
By: Legacy Staff
10 months ago
Anna Mae Hays, the first female general in the U.S. military, died Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, at a retirement home in Washington, according to multiple news sources. She was 97.
On June 11, 1970, as chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, she became the first woman promoted to the one-star rank of brigadier general, just minutes before Elizabeth P. Hoisington, chief of the Women’s Army Corps. She was congratulated with what Time magazine described as “a brassy kiss” on the lips from General William C. Westmoreland.
It was the culmination of a military career that saw her serve in the jungles of India during World War II, poorly heated operating rooms during the Korean War, and overseeing the care of wounded soldiers during the worst of the fighting in Vietnam.
She was instrumental in pushing for Army policy changes that allowed for maternity leave for married female officers. Prior to her efforts, women who became pregnant were automatically discharged from the service.
Among her military awards were the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.
Hays was born Anna Mae Violet McCabe on Feb. 16, 1920, in Buffalo. She enrolled in the Allentown General Hospital School of Nursing in 1939, and graduated in 1941. She joined the Army Nurse Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
She met William A. Hays while they were both working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They were married from 1956 until his death in 1962. She never remarried.
Hays is survived by nieces and nephews.
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