Congress formally established the Army Nurse Corps Feb. 2, 1901. Army Veteran Virginia Louise Brown spent 37 years as a member.
Brown grew up with her family in Tennessee. When she was young, a car hit Brown, hospitalizing her for a week. She said that experience helped inspire her to become a nurse.
After attending East Tennessee State University then college at Johnson City, Brown applied to the Baptist Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Memphis and graduated in 1943. She worked in the medical field before joining the Army in July 1943.
Her first assignment was Kennedy General Hospital in Memphis before volunteering to go overseas. In December 1943, Brown joined the 48th General Hospital and arrived in England the following January. She served at a hospital in England on D-Day and soon began treating the casualties from the battle. In the following months, Brown continued to treat casualties in the Lajure hospital in Paris after the liberation and later in Marseille before returning to the U.S. in September. She left the Army in 1946 but remained in the Reserves.
Brown went back to the Baptist Hospital and taught from 1949 to 1953. After hearing the Army offered better pay and needed nursing instructors, she re-entered service and arrived at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in December 1953. Brown would go on to serve in Korea, Japan, Europe and across the United States. At several locations, she was the head nurse. Brown retired from the Army in 1980 at the rank of colonel.
After her retirement, she became involved with the Women’s Overseas Service League, the National League of Nursing, and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. During her service, Brown earned the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. She was also selected as Nurse of the Year by the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Brown passed away in 2011 at the age of 89.
We honor her service.
More can be found about her story at the Veteran’s History Project at https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.39529/.
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