Military Traditions

March 8, 2018 By Julie Turner

Navy Nurse Recruiting Poster

On the Wall of Remembrance at Paradise Valley Estates, picture 19 depicts a recruiting poster for one of the Navy’s most treasured corps: Navy nurses.

Military nursing had its origins with the Crimean and American Civil Wars. Serving from the “Sacred Twenty” to Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, the Navy Nurse Corps turned 100 years old on 13 May 2008.

Established by Congress in 1908, it is a unique corps of the United States Navy that has evolved over time with the nation’s needs in war and peace but with a primary mission of care for sailors and marines.

From the original 20 female members, it expanded in World War I as the Navy deployed five base hospitals and special operating teams to Europe. By November 1918, there were some 1,550 Navy nurses in hospitals and transports.

As World War II began, Navy nurses treated casualties at Pearl Harbor; others were taken prisoner on Guam and in the Philippines, some remaining in captivity until 1945. Reaching peak strength in 1945, some 11,086 nurses were serving in 40 naval hospitals, 176 dispensaries and 6 hospital corpsmen schools. Nurses were assigned relative ranks in 1942 with actual rank established in 1944 and permanent commissioned rank as a staff Corps in 1947. The first male nurses were commissioned in 1964 and currently are about 25 percent of the Navy nurses.

During the wars in Korea and Vietnam, Navy nurses again served on hospital ships and at forward operating bases providing life-saving medical care to sailors and Marines. During the Cold War, renewed emphasis was placed on humanitarian aid and disaster relief in support of United States national efforts and by the end of the century, Nurse Corps strength was about 5,000.

On the wall opposite the Navy nurse poster is a collage of PVE military women, many of whom served as Navy nurses. This PVE “corps” is growing more and more each year!


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