Navy Nurse Corps

In 1908 Congress formally established the Navy Nurse Corps.  At that time 20 nurses were selected to serve as U.S. Navy nurses.  Prior to 1908 nurses served the navy as civilian contractors or volunteers.  Navy Nurses served with distinction and answered the call to duty in every major conflict from WW1 to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. An interesting view of the war in Iraq through the eyes of a navy nurse can be read in the book Ruff's War: A Navy Nurse on the Frontline in Iraq

Shipboard service didn't really occur until 1920. The development of Navy Nurses as fully commissioned officers and members of the navy mirrors that of the U.S. Army Nurse.  While recognized as commissioned officers it wasn't until WWII that women naval officers would be recognized as having the same authority as male officers. 

Today's Naval Nurse Corps is a fully modern medical asset to the Naval Medical Corps.  They work aboard hospital ships, on cruisers, battleships and aircraft carriers. They are medevac nurses, ICU nurses, and even pediatric nurses.  Due to the smaller size of the Navy they only number about 1500 nurses including the naval reserve nurses and the active duty navy. 

Unlike the army a website dedicated just to the Navy Nurse Corps seems to be hard to find but there are references to the Corps on Wikipedia and the navy recruiting site at gives a good overview of the career opportunities afforded to nurses in the navy.

Some historical facts about Navy Nursing:

By 1919 Four Navy Crosses for selfless service had been awarded to Navy Nurses.  Three of them were posthumously awarded as the recipients had died caring for victims of the 1918 Influenza Epidemic.

The top leadership role  was called the Nurse Corps Superintendent until 1947.  At that time the navy established the nurse corps as an official arm of the navy medical corps and gave the rank of naval captain to the commander of the corps.

Navy Nurses were POW's during WWII and were part of the group of nurses called the "Angels of Bataan".  A book titled We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese has been written about these heroic nurses. Navy Nurses have served with ground troops of the U.S. Army as far back as WWI