Perhaps because the Korean War was fought in the midst of an era better known for Ozzie and Harriet-type families engaged in creating the Baby Boom, histories of military women’s contributions to this war are few and far between. However, during this era the federal government took several major steps towards creating our modern-day military and defi ning women’s place in it: the Army-Navy Nurse Act of 1947, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, and the establishment of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service (DACOWITS) in 1951. During the fi rst years of World War II, Army and Navy nurses were assigned relative ranks, which did not carry the authority and pay of comparable ranks for male offi cers. In 1944, Army and Navy nurses were granted real commissioned rank, but on a temporary basis for the duration of the war emergency plus six months only. In 1947, with the passage of the Army-Navy Nurse Act, these inequities were fi nally laid to rest. The act granted military nurses the same commissioned ranks, authority, and compensation as male offi cers in the Army and Navy. In 1947 Congress created a new military service, removing the Air Corps from the Army and establishing the United States Air Force. Women who had been serving in the Army Air Corps were suddenly in the Air Force. That service referred to its women as WAF, for Women in the Air Force. In 1949, the Army Nurse Corps transferred 1,200 nurses to the newly established Air Force Nurse Corps. The World War II non-nursing women’s military components had been created for the war emergency only, and the vast majority of servicewomen were demobilized after the war. The military services realized almost immediately, however, that they needed women’s administrative skills to function effi ciently in times of peace as well as in war, and petitioned Congress to establish permanent women’s components in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and the newly formed Air Force. This was a fairly controversial request, and not all military men and certainly not all politicians or the public they represented agreed that non-nursing

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women should serve permanently in the Armed Forces. After two years of testimony and heated debate, Congress fi nally passed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, which established a permanent place for non-nursing women in the regular and Reserves of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. Although the act was viewed as a victory for women, it set forth strict limitations on their service; women could not be commissioned as generals or admirals and could not legally serve aboard combat aircraft or military vessels engaged in a combat mission. The act also limited the number of women in each service to a maximum of 2 percent of the force, and established a set number of senior offi cer billets in each female component, thus severely constraining women’s career ladders. Finally, the act allowed the service secretaries to terminate the commission or enlistment of any woman under circumstances proscribed by the President. In 1951, President Harry Truman used the authority granted to him by the 1948 Act and issued Executive Order 10240, which authorized the services to discharge any woman who, by marriage, birth or adoption, became the parent of a minor child. Several years earlier, on July 26, 1948, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981, mandating an end to racial segregation and discrimination in the Armed Forces. The process of desegregating the Armed Forces could not, and did not, happen overnight, and was still ongoing during the Korean War. Male and female units in Europe, the U.S. and Japan were integrated during this period, a process described in the memoirs of Brigadier General Clara Adams Ender and Colonel Margaret Bailey, both of which are discussed in the next chapter. When North Korea invaded South Korea in late June 1950, World War II had been over for only fi ve years, and the American public was not enthusiastic about another war. However, a new enemy, Communism, had emerged to threaten the postwar world. Military and government leaders believed that the Communists were bent on taking over the world, one country at a time. North Korea’s attack seemed to prove this theory, and in response the government reinstituted the draft and the Armed Forces began a rapid expansion of manpower. At least 50,000 women served in the Armed Forces during the Korean War, the vast majority of them assigned far from the battle theater. Although most worked in clerical and communication billets in the United States, WACs and WAF (Air Force women) and small numbers of Navy women and Women Marines served as part of the relatively large U.S. military presence in Europe, where U.S. politicians and military leaders feared that the Soviet Union would attempt to take advantage of the situation in Korea and push into western Europe. WACs and WAF were also sent to Japan to support the Army and Air Force in the Far East. Most were stationed in Tokyo or Yokohama, where they performed important combat support jobs working as photograph and intelligence analysts, medical technicians, mail processors, telegraph and telephone operators, and typists and fi le clerks. Meanwhile, military commanders in the Korean Theater proceeded as if they had very little memory or knowledge of the numerous instances of courage exhibited by servicewomen under fi re during the previous war. Although the Army sent medical units, including nurses, into the battle theater within days after the start of the Korean War, fi eld commanders attempted to keep the women as safe as possible. For example, Army nurses assigned to the 8063rd Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) often did not accompany their hospital when it traveled to a

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new site. They were held back until the hospital was safely established and then allowed to go forward. War, however, is unpredictable, and the nurses frequently found themselves under fi re or close to the front lines when enemy forces appeared unexpectedly or when U.N. forces lost ground during a campaign. Although the movie and television show M*A*S*H introduced the public to the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in a light-hearted way, few military nurses have felt inclined to publish memoirs of that period of their lives, even those who disagree with the show’s characterization of their service. Army nurses in Korea dealt with extremely diffi cult battlefi eld conditions similar to those encountered by forward units in every war; a scarcity of clean water and operating equipment, freezing weather, mud, vermin, and overcrowded hospitals. At least one nurse, former ANC Director Brigadier General Anna Mae Hays, has stated that her duty in Korea was much harder and more uncomfortable than her experiences in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II. Air Force nurses stationed in Japan crewed aboard medical evacuation fl ights between Japan and Korea, often landing near the front lines to pick up patients. When the Chinese Communists conducted a surprise attack against U.N. forces in late 1950 and forced them to retreat southwards down the peninsula, hospitals had to pack up and move with the troops. Thousands of patients had to be air evacuated immediately. In several cases, patients were evacuated minutes before enemy troops seized airfi elds. Sixteen military nurses died en route to the Korean Theater during the war. The fi rst casualty was Major Genevieve Smith, who died early in July 1950 when the C-47 transporting her from Japan to Korea for her new assignment as Chief of all Army Nurses in Korea crashed into the sea. On August 5, a Navy nurse died when the hospital ship USS Benevolence, which had been assigned to the Korean Theater, sank off the coast of California. In mid-September 1950, 11 Navy nurses en route to Yokosuka Navy Hospital in Japan died when their plane crashed on take-off after refueling on Kwajelein Island. Three Air Force nurses perished when the medical evacuation aircraft on which they were working crashed. Because individual memoirs remain scanty for this period, researchers rely on some very good offi cial and general histories that cover all uniformed women during the Korean War: Major General Jeanne Holm’s Women in the Military: An Unfi nished Revolution; Colonel Bettie Morden’s The Women’s Army Corps: 1945-1978; Jean Ebbert and Mary Beth Hall’s Crossed Currents: Navy Women in a Century of Change; Susan Godson’s Serving Proudly: A History of Women in the U.S. Navy; Mary Sarnecky’s The Army Nurse Corps; and Doris Sterner’s In and Out of Harm’s Way: A History of the Navy Nurse Corps. For complete citations, please see the section under “General Histories.”