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ARABIAN GULF (Dec. 31, 2015) Lt. Kathleen Kostka (left), from Virginia Beach, Virginia, a critical care nurse embarked aboard USS Kearsarge attached to Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 4, simulates sedating a patient during a medical evacuation drill in an MV-22 Osprey. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Preston/Released)
ARABIAN GULF (Dec. 31, 2015) Lt. Kathleen Kostka (left), from Virginia Beach, Virginia, a critical care nurse embarked aboard USS Kearsarge attached to Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 4, simulates sedating a patient during a medical evacuation drill in an MV-22 Osprey. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Preston/Released)

Happy 108th Birthday Navy Nurses

By Vice Adm. Forrest Faison
Surgeon General

Navy Medicine is given a trust to care for those who have volunteered to defend our freedom, a trust to return America’s sons and daughters home safely. On behalf of the entire Navy Medicine family, I extend my gratitude and appreciation to our Navy Nurse Corps for 108 years of honoring that trust.

“The Sacred Twenty” - The Navy's first nurses. Front row (left to right): Mary Dubose, Adah M. Pendleton, Elizabeth M. Hewitt, Della V. Knight, J. Beatrice Bowman, Lenah S. Higbee, Esther V. Hasson, Martha E. Pringle, Elizabeth Wells, Sara B. Myer, and Clare L. DeCeu. Back row: Elisabeth Leonhardt, Estelle Hine, Ethel R. Parsons, Florence Milburn, Boniface Small, Victoria White, Isabelle Roy, Margaret Murray and Sara Cox. (Credit: BUMED Library and Archives)
“The Sacred Twenty” – The Navy’s first nurses. Front row (left to right): Mary Dubose, Adah M. Pendleton, Elizabeth M. Hewitt, Della V. Knight, J. Beatrice Bowman, Lenah S. Higbee, Esther V. Hasson, Martha E. Pringle, Elizabeth Wells, Sara B. Myer, and Clare L. DeCeu. Back row: Elisabeth Leonhardt, Estelle Hine, Ethel R. Parsons, Florence Milburn, Boniface Small, Victoria White, Isabelle Roy, Margaret Murray and Sara Cox. (Credit: BUMED Library and Archives)

 

On May 13, 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Naval Appropriations Bill, establishing the Nurse Corps as an essential component of the Navy. Since then, the men and women of our Nurse Corps have served in times of peace and war, at home, overseas and on the front lines. Countless lives have been touched by the care and compassion our Navy nurses deliver.

ARABIAN GULF (Dec. 31, 2015) Lt. Kathleen Kostka (left), from Virginia Beach, Virginia, a critical care nurse embarked aboard USS Kearsarge attached to Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 4, simulates sedating a patient during a medical evacuation drill in an MV-22 Osprey. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Preston/Released)
ARABIAN GULF (Dec. 31, 2015) Lt. Kathleen Kostka (left), from Virginia Beach, Virginia, a critical care nurse embarked aboard USS Kearsarge attached to Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 4, simulates sedating a patient during a medical evacuation drill in an MV-22 Osprey. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Tyler Preston/Released)

From the first Navy nurses in 1908, to 4,200 Navy nurses serving today, our Nurse Corps has answered the call, often at great sacrifice, to care for those entrusted to us when they need us most. In 1921, 11 Navy nurses became the first military women to serve aboard a hospital ship, the USS Relief. In 1972, a Navy nurse, Alene Duerk, was the first woman in the Navy to achieve flag rank.

An integral part of our Navy Medicine team, our Navy nurses fly with wounded; provide care for the fleet and aboard hospital ships; establish nursing schools, clinics, and small hospitals in remote locations; and serve in military treatment facilities worldwide.

Our Navy nurses are scientists, teachers, researchers, providers and clinicians. They set the standard for military medicine, and are essential to force health protection and readiness.

Today, we honor their achievements, courage and commitment. We honor the men and women who have put themselves in harm’s way, and we honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I want to thank the exceptional men and women serving in our Nurse Corps for their sacrifice, their steadfast dedication, compassion, and selfless service as they honor the sacred trust that has been placed in them. Happy 108th birthday, Navy nurses!

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