Nurses in the Military

Who was the first black army nurse?

In 1948 Nancy Leftenant-Colon (c. 1920–) became the first black member of the Regular Army Nurse Corps in March of that year. She was a graduate of Lincoln Hospital School for Nurses, in the Bronx, New York, which enrolled primarily minority students. She joined the army reserve nurse corps in February 1945. At the time of her enlistment, black nurses were not highly regarded and were not given the status of regular nurse, but in eleven months she was promoted from second to first lieutenant. Her performance as a nurse was no doubt a factor in the acceptance of her 1948 application for admission into the Regular Army Nurse Corps. During her service career she was an air force flight nurse. Leftenant-Colon retired from the army, with the rank of major, in 1965. She worked from 1971 to 1984 as a nurse at Amityville High School in New York, having moved to Long Island when she left the army. She achieved another “first” as the only woman to be president of the Tuskegee Airmen. She was president of the group from 1989 to 1991.


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