(Stars and Stripes)

Camp Zama, Japan, February 1971: A portrait of Brig. Gen. Anna Mae Hays, chief of the Army Nurse Corps, taken during an interview at Zama Hospital during a Far East inspection tour that also included stops in Korea and Vietnam.

Eight months earlier, on June 11, 1970, Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington of the Women’s Army Corps made history when they became the first women to attain the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army. (Technically, Hays was the first by a few minutes.)

Hays joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1942, serving in India for two and a half years. She continued in the corps, deploying with the 4th Field Hospital to Korea in 1950 and participating in the Inchon Landing, and was later one of three nurses to care for President Dwight D. Eisenhower when he was hospitalized at Walter Reed for 23 days. She formed a close bond with the president and his wife Mamie, who attended Hays’ promotion ceremony in 1970.

Many of Hays’ recommendations led to groundbreaking reforms in personnel policies regarding female service members such as ending the automatic discharge from the U.S. Army for pregnant service members, and allowing commissary and post privileges for spouses of female service members.

Read the 1971 interview with Brig. Gen. Hays — or as she was referred to in the article “Miss Hays” — here.

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