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AMEDD Corps History > Medical Specialist > Publication

The Korean War, June 1950 to July 1953

Colonel Nell Wickliffe Merrill, USA (Ret.), and
Colonel Harriet S. Lee, USA (Ret.)

The violent onslaught on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Sunday, 7 December 1941, is indelibly engraved on the minds of all Americans. For the second time a Sunday, 25 June 1950, became a day of destiny for the United States. To the occupation forces serving in Japan on Sunday, 25 June 1950, came a terse announcement from Radio Tokyo that the North Koreans had launched a powerful offensive across the 38th parallel.

Although the World War II surrenders had been in existence for nearly 5 years, there had been an uneasy peace in Korea. Korea was divided into a southern area and a northern area at the 38th parallel. The United States maintained a military assistance program in South Korea and the Russian communists dominated North Korea.

Each of these forces had a distinct mission. The forces in the south were building toward the rehabilitation of that area, and simultaneously, the forces in the north were being trained for armed aggression against them. For some time there had been numerous small disputes between the North and South Koreans. At times these clashes, induced by the North Koreans, led to combat which tested the efficiency and readiness for wartime operations. From trumped-up provocation came the onslaught of full-scale hostility. In writing this account many years later, the announcement which one author of this chapter heard on that relatively quiet Sunday afternoon in Yokohama, Japan, is still vivid in her memory.

On 29 June 1950, President Truman authorized General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Commander in Chief, Far East Command, to use certain supporting ground troops in Korea. For the first time, U.S. troops entered a battle under the flag of the United Nations. In due time, the medical teams of the United Nations were linked into a cooperative and effective organization.

For the first time during a war effort, dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists were serving with the Army Medical Service as a corps. The full military status achieved in 1947 proved a decided boon during the Korean War. Their more effective organization and administration as members of the Regular and Reserve components of the U.S. Army greatly facilitated the accomplishment of the mission of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps.



At the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, the organization of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Division, Surgeon General`s Office, was well established and the administration of the corps was functioning effectively. During the period June 1950 to July 1953, the chief of the corps and the three assistant chiefs completed their 4-year statutory tours necessitating new appointments to these positions (chart 8). The outgoing officers reverted to their permanent grades upon termination of their appointments if they continued on active duty. All were, by law, eligible for retirement in the statutory grade when they met other criteria if they held the position for 2½ or more years.

The 4-year tenure during this period was determined to be 4 years of service in the Surgeon General`s Office rather than 4 years in statutory office. Lt. Col. (later Col.) Ruth A. Robinson was relieved, therefore, on 9 June 1952, and Lt. Col. Eleanor L. Mitchell on 21 July 1952. Both continued on active duty and reverted to their permanent grades of major. Col. Emma E. Vogel and Lt. Col. Edna Lura retired upon completion of their tours.

The new chief of the corps, Col. Nell Wickliffe (fig. 98), had been Dietetic Consultant to the Surgeon, Far East Command, immediately before taking office and thus had firsthand knowledge of the professional problems facing Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers in Korea and the Far East. The new section chiefs were Lt. Col. Hilda M. Lovett, dietitian; Lt. Col. (later Col.) Harriet S. Lee, physical therapist; and Lt. Col. Helen R. Sheehan, occupational therapist (fig. 99).

Headquarters, Oversea Army Commands

At the onset of the war in Korea, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps activities in oversea areas were coordinated by corps consultants to the surgeons, Far East and European Commands. In the Far East Command, in addition to Major Wickliffe, a physical therapist, Maj. Ethel M. Theilmann was designated consultant on a part-time basis to the Surgeon, Eighth U.S. Army, Yokohama, Japan, and also to the Surgeon, Far East Command, Tokyo, Japan. Because of the extreme shortage of occupational therapists, none were assigned to this command until 1951. The consultants made official visits to the various hospital units to assist in solving both administrative and professional problems and recommended on assignments of corps personnel. Appointment of these consultants was discontinued after 1958 because of the small number of Army Medical Specialist Corps personnel assigned in the Far East.

In the European Command, a dietitian, Maj. Helen A. Dautrich, and a physical therapist, Capt. (later Lt. Col.) Mary L. Ben Dure, served in a similar manner as part-time consultants to the Surgeon. When the chief or an assistant chief of the corps made an official visit to


Chart 8-Organization, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Division, Surgeon General`s Office, June 1950-July 1953


98-Col. Nell Wickliffe, Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, is sworn in. Left to right: Lt. Col. Gerard J. Sheehan, MSC, Colonel Wickliffe, and Brig. Gen. Silas B. Hays, Deputy Surgeon General, 3 December 1951.

the commands, one of the consultants usually accompanied her to the different installations in the area (fig. 100). Their specific knowledge of the problems faced by their professional groups was of inestimable value.


From time to time after the beginning of the Korean War, legislation was introduced to permit the commissioning of male specialists in the three sections of the corps.1 It was not, however, until August 1955 that this was achieved.

On 27 May 1953, legislation was enacted providing for appointment of officers in the Regular Army Women`s Medical Specialist Corps in the grade of first lieutenant.2 Previously, original appointments could be made only in the grade of second lieutenant unless the appointee had prior service with the Medical Department.3

1Legislation introduced by Representative Francis P. Bolton on 10 August 1950 and again in January 1951 (H.R. 911). In 1952, H.R. 4447 proposed commissioning of male specialists.
2Public Law 37, 83d Congress, 1st Session, approved 27 May 1953.
3Public Law 36, 80th Congress, 1st Session, approved 16 April 1947.


FIGURE 99-Section chiefs. Women`s Medical Specialist Corps. A. Lt. Col. Hilda M. Lovett, Chief, Dietitian Section. (U.S. Army photograph.) B. Lt. Col. Helen R. Sheehan, Chief, Occupational Therapist Section. (U.S. Army photograph.) C. Congratulating Lt. Col. Harriet S. Lee on her appointment as Chief, Physical Therapist Section, are Brig. Gen. Paul I. Robinson, Commanding General, Fitzsimons General Hospital, Denver, Colo., and Col. Emmett M. Smith, MC, Chief, Physical Medicine Consultants Division, Surgeon General`s Office.


FIGURE 100-Col. Nell Wickliffie (center), Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, and Maj. Katharine E. Manchester (left), dietetic consultant to the Surgeon, United States Army, Europe, confer with Maj. Eleanor M. Marshall, physical therapist, 97th General Hospital, during a tour of U.S. medical installations in Germany, July 1952. (U.S. Army photograph.)



In the summer of 1950, both popular and congressional attitudes reflected emphasis on economy in government programs. Drastic reductions in defense expenditures had taken place after the termination of World War II. The overall economy program as determined by Congress and the Bureau of the Budget had brought about the closing of three general hospitals: Murphy General Hospital, Waltham, Mass., on 30 April 1950, and on 30 June, Valley Forge General Hospital, Phoenixville, Pa., and Percy Jones General Hospital, Battle Creek, Mich. In addition, Camp Atterbury Station Hospital, Ind., and Camp Breckinridge Station Hospital, Ky., had been closed.

At the onset of the Korean War, the strength of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps was 340, 149 Regular Army and 191 Reserve officers. The Reserve figures included 23 student officers who were not available for duty in hospitals. The need for personnel was both quantitative and qualitative. The maintenance of a high quality ser-


vice in dietetics, physical therapy, and occupational therapy, and a strong teaching program in these three professions demanded an adequate number of qualified specialists in these fields.

Casualties were first evacuated from Korea to U.S. medical installations in Japan. Later, U.S. Army personnel who would require long-term medical care were evacuated to the United States. In addition to U.S. forces, the U.S. Army hospitals in Japan cared for the sick and wounded of other forces of the United Nations who were fighting in Korea. These United Nations casualties when not returned to duty were returned to their native countries. With the marked increase in the number of patients both in the continental United States and overseas, the workload of each professional specialty was greatly enlarged.

Hospital units arrived in Japan with two dietitians and two physical therapists. Only the 141st General Hospital, Tokyo, had an occupational therapist assigned. Before 25 June 1950, these hospital units had been for the most part paper organizations; however, they progressed rapidly to the status of functioning hospitals. It soon became obvious that there was a great disparity between the limited number of dietitians and physical therapists assigned and the workload they were expected to accomplish. The patient load of Army hospitals in Japan was soaring and there was no pool of officers from which to supplement the shortages in these professional categories. The situation was especially challenging for the dietitians who, for the first time during a war, were in complete charge of the food service. Since this included service for hospital personnel, as well as for patients, it was necessary to begin these operations as soon as the hospital unit arrived at its destination. Whenever possible, additional dietitians were assigned on a temporary basis to assist in the enormous task of organizing the food service departments. This organization was further complicated because many of these units occupied buildings which were originally constructed for Army barracks, post offices, or airplane factories, all of which had been quickly renovated for hospital use.

In July and August 1950, the situation in Korea was critical. The desperate fighting; the terrain of swampy, stagnant rice paddies and numerous mountain ridges; the monsoon season with terrific rains producing mud, mildew, rot, and rust; and the sultry summer heat generating flies, fleas, lice, and diseases, such as malaria and hepatitis, sharply reduced the number of our fighting men even after reinforcements had been received.

During this time and in the fall of 1950, rapid expansion of the Army and the increased needs of the Army Medical Service continued. The patient load showed a general increase in hospitals in the continental United States, reflecting in part, the tremendous increase of patient population in hospitals in the Far East Command. It was necessary to reopen the three general hospitals and the two station hospitals which had been closed in the spring and summer of 1950. The influx of sick and wounded soldiers from Korea necessitated the expansion of the actual


bed capacity of hospitals in Japan beyond that originally authorized. For example, the 35th Station Hospital, Kyoto, operated as a 250-bed unit in June 1950. It was designated as the hepatitis center of Japan in September 1950 and in November 1950 was reorganized as a 300-bed unit. Because the Korean War necessitated expansion, the actual bed capacity exceeded 2,000 and actual census reached 1,950 before the end of 1950.4

Some of the hospitals in Japan operated annexes in conjunction with their central organization. This necessitated the duplication of ancillary services with an attendant increased professional requirement. This duplication was true for the dietitians and physical therapists especially in the larger hospitals: Tokyo Army Hospital, Tokyo, Osaka Army Hospital, Osaka, and the 35th Station Hospital.

The requirements for additional Women`s Medical Specialist Corps personnel continued to rise. By the end of March 1951, the estimated number of corps officers required in the care of sick and wounded soldiers was over 900.5 The corps was functioning at approximately 50 percent of this required number. In July the required number was 1,075.6 At this time, the active-duty strength of the Army had increased to approximately 1,532,000 which was about 200 percent greater than at the beginning of the Korean War. The Women`s Medical Specialist Corps had an increase of about 60 percent during this period. (See Appendix M, p. 617.) The chronic and critical shortage of corps officers continued throughout the Korean War years. The strength on 30 June 1953 was 607, 201 Regular Army and 406 Reserve officers.


First involuntary recall

It was in a milieu of lean procurement potential that the Korean War broke out in 1950. Obviously, drastic measures were required to procure sufficient personnel to meet even minimum requirements. Abandoning hope of filling necessary positions of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists by the voluntary return of Reserve officers to active duty, the Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, on 30 August 1950, recommended the initiation of an involuntary recall of Reserve officers.

On 21 September, the Department of the Army notified the Commanding Generals, Continental Armies, of the involuntary recall of 145 Reserve Officers in the grades of captain and lieutenant:7 70 dietitians, 40 physical therapists, and 35 occupational therapists. Members of medical Reserve units were not subject to recall, as individuals in their respective units had not yet been alerted for active duty. Each Army area

4Annual Report, 35th Station Hospital, Kyoto, Japan, 1950.
5From strength and requirement cards, 30 Apr. 1950-31 Mar. 1956, posted monthly and maintained in Office of the Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps.
6Ibid. Strength as of 31 July 1951.
7Letter, Office of The Adjutant General, Department of the Army, to Commanding Generals, Continental Armies, 21 Sept. 1950, subject: Recall of Women Officers and Enlisted Personnel.


was given a quota and Army commanders were advised that selections should be made whenever feasible from among Reserve officers who had not had previous military service or from among those with the shortest tours of duty. Furthermore, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Reserves with dependents under 18 years of age were not considered eligible and were separated from the Officers` Reserve Corps. Selection criteria exempted Reserve officers who held key administrative or teaching positions in hospitals or other institutions conducting training courses or whose entry on active duty would jeopardize the health of the community in which employed.

In determining the selection of officers, Army commanders were to enlist the cooperation and assistance of the appropriate professional organizations, either state, local, or both. In addition, they were authorized, if they so desired, to assign an officer of the corps on temporary duty in their headquarters to assist in this program. If such an officer was not available, a requisition could be made to the Department of the Army.

It was hoped that the involuntary recall could be accomplished in three increments, with officers reporting for duty on 15, 22, or 29 November for a period of 21 months. As of 31 June 1951, 82 officers--34 dietitians, 40 physical therapists, and 8 occupational therapists--had been assigned to active duty as a result of this program.8

Appointment of civilian consultants

In view of the critical personnel shortage, three civilian consultants to the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps had been appointed by The Surgeon General in the fall of 1950: Miss Mable M. MacLachlan, dietitian,9 Miss Mildred Elson, physical therapist, and Mrs. Winifred C. Kahmann, occupational therapist (fig. 101). These women, outstanding leaders in their respective professions, had knowledge of the current personnel picture in civilian life. They met with the chief and assistant chiefs of the corps and other staff officers in the Surgeon General`s Office on 16 and 17 January 1951. Statistics presented by the consultants indicated that there was not a sufficient number of graduates in each of the three specialties to meet both current civilian and military needs. The widespread use of these specialists in industry, commercial organizations, schools, colleges, and hospitals had created new and expanding demands. The consultants presented little hope for improvement in immediate procurement. They agreed, however, to assist in publicizing the needs of the Army and heartily endorsed a long-range plan for increasing the potential sources of these specialists through direct mailing of informational material from the Surgeon General`s Office to vocational guidance directors in high schools and to career guidance advisers in colleges and universities.

Other conferences with the consultants during this period, held in the

8Semiannual report, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, 1 Jan.-30 June 1951, p. 7.
9Miss MacLachlan was succeeded by Miss Alta B. Atkinson in February 1953.


FIGURE 101-Civilian consultants meet in the Surgeon General`s Office to discuss Women`s Medical Specialist Corps personnel procurement, January 1951. Left to right: Col. Emma E. Vogel; Miss Mable MacLachlan, Educational Director, American Dietetic Association; Maj. Gen. George E. Armstrong, Deputy Surgeon General; Mrs. Winifred C. Kahmann, President, American Occupational Therapy Association; and Miss Mildred Elson, Executive Director, American Physical Therapy Association.

Surgeon General`s Office in January 1952 and March 1953, strengthened the liaison between the military and civilian professional groups. They were of assistance in translating the personnel needs of the military to the national professional organizations concerned as well as to the colleges and universities producing graduates in these professions.

Voluntary recall

In January 1951, the situation in Korea warranted further expansion of the Army Medical Service. Maj. Gen. George E. Armstrong, The Surgeon General, announced a plan by which it was hoped to recruit 572 additional Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Reserve officers for voluntary recall by 30 June 1951. This number included 247 dietitians, 179 physical therapists, and 146 occupational therapists. In January, it was anticipated that this quota could be met on a voluntary basis; however,


by 30 June 1951, only 26 dietitians, 9 physical therapists, and 20 occupational therapists had been obtained.10

Second involuntary recall

In the spring of 1952, a careful and intensive study of anticipated needs and results of various procurement programs indicated a shortage of nearly 400 Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers by the end of the year. There was little, if any, encouragement in the outlook for the immediate procurement of these specialists. The needs were urgent and a further shortage could be expected since the officers then serving on duty as a result of the first involuntary recall would soon be due for separation.

By 30 June 1952, the list of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Reserve officers not on active duty totaled 242.11 Since the list had been reevaluated, it was assumed that these officers would be available for duty, if needed. For the most part, they were officers who had been in Reserve training with medical units, so a call to active duty during an emergency was not wholly unexpected.

On 23 July 1952, announcement of the second involuntary recall of 125 medical specialists, 70 dietitians, 31 physical therapists, and 24 occupational therapists, was sent to the Commanding Generals, Continental Armies. Public release of this program was made in Washington, D.C., 1 week later. Mrs. Anna M. Rosenberg, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, directed that the screening of these specialists be accomplished by the National Advisory Committee of the Selective Service System then being used in the selection of doctors and dentists. The professional organizations cooperated with the national, state, and local advisory committees in the selection of individual officers. The screening was to assure that no individual considered essential to the national health, safety, and interest would be required to leave her civilian position. With this method of screening, equitable consideration of both military and civilian needs was achieved. The criteria for deferment were the same as those for the first involuntary recall. Those officers who had been recalled after 25 June 1950 were not affected by this second recall program.

A delay in reporting to active duty was experienced. This delay was for clearance by the National Advisory Committee, Selective Service System, and the requirement that the applicant had to report for duty within 120 days of taking a final physical examination. Nominees did not report until April, May, and June, 1953.12 As of 30 June 1953, only 15 officers had been recalled to active duty:13 9 dietitians, 5 physical therapists, and 1 occupational therapist. Although the original quota for

10See footnote 8, p. 375.
11See footnote 5, p. 374. Strength as of 30 June 1952.
12Semiannual Report, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, 1 July-31 Dec. 1952, p. 5.
13Semiannual Report, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, 1 Jan.-30 June 1953, p. 9.


physical therapists was 31, the actual needs of that section when the program was implemented justified the recall of only 5 officers.

Assignment of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps
procurement officers to Army area headquarters

In May 1950, before the Korean War began, the Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, had requested assignment of corps officers to Army area headquarters to accelerate procurement efforts in the event of an emergency. The Surgeon General did not approve at that time. In September 1950, Colonel Vogel resubmitted her request for area headquarters representation and reviewed the procurement actions which had been taken since the extension of the integration period. In spite of all efforts, recruitment of personnel had been extremely poor. Furthermore, the decentralization to Army headquarters of appointments in the Officers` Reserve Corps had placed the processing of applications and appointments on the Army headquarters procurement nurse, a duty more properly the concern of a Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officer.

The Surgeon General concurred in the second request but only approved assignment of these officers on a temporary-duty basis with the understanding that the necessity for continuing these positions was to be evaluated after 90 days. Third, Fourth, and Fifth U.S. Armies responded readily, and by October, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers were assigned temporarily to officer procurement duty. This was another step in integrating corps thought and action as these officers presented the three professions in the light of a career in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps.

By January 1951, the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers in Headquarters, Fourth and Fifth U.S. Armies, were permanently assigned to procurement duty. In 1951, a Corps officer was permanently assigned to Sixth U.S. Army headquarters, and two were placed on temporary duty: one each in First and Second U.S. Army headquarters. (See Appendix N, p. 619.)

All procurement officers were ordered to Washington on 26 and 27 April 1951 to attend a joint Army Nurse Corps-Women`s Medical Specialist Corps procurement conference. In addition to an indoctrination to their duties, emphasis was given, through talks and discussions, to the significance of public relations and publicity in their procurement activities. But more than that, the attention of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps was focused on sources of supply for dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.

The national shortages of dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists only served to emphasize the corps problem.14 In No-

14Memorandum, The Surgeon General (Lt. Col. Francis C. Nelson, MSC, Technical Information Office), for Chief, Military Personnel Procurement Service, 21 Nov. 1951, subject: Intensified Procurement for Women`s Medical Specialist Corps.


vember 1951, there were only 5,000 hospital dietitians and over 600 unfilled civilian positions; the Army deficit was 192. There were approximately 4,500 physical therapists, 1,000 unfilled positions, and a projected civilian need within 10 years of 16,000. The Army deficit was 140. There were only 3,000 occupational therapists to meet a civilian need which within a 5-year period was expected to expand to 8,000. The Army deficit was 143.15

In December 1952, another joint conference of Army Nurse Corps-Women`s Medical Specialist Corps procurement officers was held in the Surgeon General`s Office. The Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers included two for whom orders for permanent assignment in Second and Third U.S. Army headquarters, respectively, had been requested. For the first time, the corps had a representative in each of the six Army headquarters and could look forward to a widespread geographic attack on the problem of procurement.

During 1953, the first impact of the activities of procurement officers on the civilian and educational world became evident. At that time, they submitted monthly reports on their activities to the Surgeon General`s Office, and the variety and scope of these activities were amazing. The procurement officers had found not only a profound lack of knowledge of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps in both Army and civilian circles, but also an accompanying interest and curiosity. Reserve Officers` Training Corps personnel in the land grant colleges, officer and enlisted personnel in the recruiting stations, and guidance and placement personnel in colleges and universities had welcomed information about the corps.

The procurement officers, in presenting the role of the three professions in the Army, recruited for both the professions and the Army. They talked to civic groups, made radio and television appearances, conducted individual interviews, interviewed related college personnel, and visited high schools and colleges. Although the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps had been represented by procurement officers in all six Army areas for only a short time, the extent of their activities was considered to be of sufficient interest to be the subject of the 1953 exhibit prepared for the conventions of the three professional associations.

Procurement organization and activities
at Department of the Army level

The amount of money allocated for the Army Medical Service recruiting programs depended annually on priorities, listed in terms of all personnel needs. Unfortunately for the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, numerical objectives were often the deciding factor and their needed numbers were few in comparison with the other corps.

Work was started in the winter of 1951 on a vocational guidance project to interest high school students and those in the first 2 years of col-

15See footnote 5, p. 374. Strength as of 31 Oct. 1951.


FIGURE 102-Representatives of the Army Medical Service participating in the February 1951 Philadelphia contact camp meeting planned by Col. Harold W. Glattly, MC, Second U.S. Army Surgeon, Fort George G. Meade, Md. Left to right, seated: Col. Emma E. Vogel, Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps; Brig. Gen. Isidor S. Ravdin, member, Department of Defense Armed Forces Medical Policy Council; Colonel Glattly; and Col. H. A. Murphy, Chief, Pennsylvania Military District, Philadelphia. Standing: Maj. Cecil W. Hemperly, MSC, Personnel Division, Surgeon General`s Office; Col. Charles B. Henry, MC, Medical Section, Headquarters, Army Field Forces, Fort Monroe, Va.; Lt. Col. Elizabeth G. Mixson, Chief, Nursing Division, Second U.S. Army, Fort Meade; and Col. Laurence A. Potter, Special Assistant to The Surgeon General, Washington, D.C.

ege. The project resulted in a kit consisting of fact sheets on dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, an overall fact sheet on the corps, and a poster. In the late spring of 1952, approximately 8,000 of these kits with up-to-date brochures were distributed to vocational guidance counselors throughout the country.16 During 1952, the brochure "The Chance of Your Lifetime" was replaced by "Careers That Count." In the spring of 1953, it, together with a new poster based on "Careers That Count," was distributed to Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers. A general mailing of informational material continued through the fall of 1953.

Paid advertising in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, The Physical Therapy Review, and Occupational Therapy and Rehabil-

16Semiannual Report, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, January-June 1952, p. 2.


itation was given a one-issue trial in June 1950. Funds for advertising were temporarily cut off in 1951, but full-page advertisements appeared regularly thereafter in the professional journals as well as in Practical Home Economics and Career Index magazines. The Women`s Medical Specialist Corps was included in an Army Nurse Corps advertisement which was to be used by interested individuals to request further information on either corps. Responses to these advertisements were gratifying, but the results were difficult to evaluate.

Many media were utilized to focus attention on the opportunities in the three professions and in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps. Attention continued to be directed to colleges and universities preparing young women for these professions and the directors and students of the professional education courses throughout the country. Articles in the professional journals, leading magazines, service magazines and bulletins, and newspapers were used extensively to publicize professional activities and interesting events of the corps and its members. Members of the corps attended and participated in national, district, state, and local meetings of the professional associations and numerous civic and military organizations (fig. 102). Other publicity included exhibits at professional meetings, participation in radio and television broadcasts, and the use of television clips depicting the activities of the officers in the three sections. Numerous open-house tours were given for students and organizations.

Army students in the dietetic internship, the physical therapy course, the occupational therapy affiliation, and the occupational therapy course which was opened in 1952 were encouraged to visit their alma maters to interest other students in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps education programs. This personal experience approach had great appeal to both the students and the faculty. Participation by the Army students was handicapped by lack of funds with which to reimburse them for travel expenses.

Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services

On 11 August 1951, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services was established by General of the Army George C. Marshall, Secretary of Defense. Its function was to provide the Secretary of Defense with guidance and advice on policies relating to women in the services. The committee was initially composed of approximately 50 women of note in the professional and business worlds or who were prominent in welfare and civic activities. Beginning in 1955, representatives from the profession of dietetics, physical therapy, and occupational therapy were included.

The original committee met quarterly in the Office of the Secretary of Defense with the directors of the nine women`s services (fig. 103) and reported directly to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower. After 1953, the meetings were held semiannually. A secretariat composed


FIGURE 103-Directors of the nine women`s military services, 1951. Left to right, seated: Capt. Joy B. Hancock, Chief, WAVES; Col. Mary A. Hallaren, Chief, Women`s Army Corps; Col. Katherine A. Towle, Chief, Women Marines; and Col. Mary J. Shelly, Chief, Women in the Air Force. Standing: Col. Ruby F. Bryant, Chief, Army Nurse Corps; Col. Miriam E. Perry, Chief, Medical Specialists, USAF; Capt. Winnie C. Gibson, Chief, Nurse Corps, USN; Col. Emma E. Vogel, Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps; and Col. Verena M. Zeller, Chief, Nurse Corps, USAF.

of an executive secretary and assistants, appointed on a rotating basis from the line components of the various women`s services, was established in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to implement the work of this committee.

The urgent problem of procurement of women for the Armed Forces was the first project presented to the committee. A subcommittee concerned with the procurement of professionally qualified nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and students for these professions was established with Mrs. Mary Todhunter Rockefeller as its first chairman. Other subcommittees relating to the various areas of interest were also established.

The results of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Service activities in the interest of procurement were largely intangible. Perhaps one of their most important contributions was the education of the public in regard to women in the services. All committee members were given a thorough orientation to the life and activities of military women. This was accomplished by the dissemination of descriptive material, discussions at the meetings, and field visits by committee members to typical military installations (fig. 104). With this background


FIGURE 104-A member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services visiting the Occupational Therapy Section, Brooke General Hospital, Fort Sam Houston, Tex., August 1952. Left to right: Capt. Mary K. Berteling, Chief Occupational Therapist; Mrs. R. Max Brooks, committee member; patient; and 1st Lt. Margaret Lund, occupational therapist.

each member was able to interpret to her community and to those in her particular field of endeavor, the life of women in the services and the career opportunities afforded them as well as the urgent need for additional service personnel.

This interpretation also served to disabuse the public of many unfortunate false impressions concerning women in the services. Each Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services member assisted in the campaign of public education in accordance with her own particular talents and area of influence. They assisted the procurement officers in their own local areas by opening doors to helpful local contacts and obtaining publicity in newspapers, on the radio, and on television. Committee members professionally associated with advertising, magazines, television, and radio obtained national as well as local publicity for service women. Members in the field of education were helpful in publicizing career opportunities to students. As a group, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services sponsored the development of brochures directed toward men`s and women`s organizations, parents,


prospective recruits, and the recruit herself; the production of a short motion picture "The Real Miss America," a song "The Girls Are Marching," and various other procurement devices were also produced for use by the women`s services.

Grades and Promotions

It was fully realized that high morale was essential to the success of any program. The fact that no temporary promotions to the grade of major had been made since the establishment of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps was of great concern to its members as well as to the chief and assistant chiefs of the corps. Finally, in the fall of 1950, temporary promotions to the grade of major were authorized.17 By 31 December 1950, 38 officers were serving in this temporary grade: 35 Regular Army and 3 Reserves.

On 16 February 1952, the following Regular Army spaces were authorized for the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps: major, 35 (5 percent); captain, 315 (45 percent); lieutenant, 350 (50 percent); a total of 700 spaces.18 All of the permanent major spaces were not filled by July 1953, although promotions to the temporary grade continued to be made. (See Appendix O, p. 621.)

Appointments and Separations

Regular Army

While the number of Regular Army members increased considerably during the Korean War, the percentage of Regular Army members in relation to overall strength showed a gradual decrease. (See Appendix M, p. 617.) A decrease in the percentage of Regular Army strength is expected in times of emergency, for expansion in numbers at that time is due to an increase in the numbers of Reserve officers on active duty.

The second integration ending 16 May 1951 resulted in 61 Regular Army appointments. Six of these appointments were made from the Inactive Reserves, three from civilian status, and the remainder from the Reserve on active duty. There were 96 Regular Army appointments in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps during fiscal years 1951, 1952, and 1953: 38 dietitians, 43 physical therapists, and 15 occupational therapists.

Soon after the outbreak of hostilities in Korea and after the involuntary recall program of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers, resignations of Regular Army officers were frozen with the exception of those for reasons of extreme personal hardship. Previously, retirement could be requested by an officer after completion of 20 years of service. The Defense Appropriation Bill, passed in October 1951, contained pro-

17Semiannual Report, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, January-June 1950, p. 10.
18See footnote 16, p. 380.


visions, however, which restricted the use of funds for retirement pay of any commissioned member of the Regular Army, Navy, or Air Force who was voluntarily retired after the enactment of the law.19 During fiscal year 1955, this restriction on funds was withdrawn.

Officers` Reserve Corps

During fiscal years 1950-53 (table 16), 182 dietitians, 135 physical therapists, and 104 occupational therapists were appointed in the Officers` Reserve Corps with concurrent call to active duty or were called to active duty from the Reserve component. The number of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers who graduated from the professional education programs conducted by the Army during the same period was 205. (See Appendix P, p. 623.)

At the outbreak of the Korean War, a category system was in effect which governed the period of service for which Reserve officers coming on active duty agreed to serve. Many Reserve officers serving on active duty were separated following the expiration of their category commitments. A considerable number, however, elected to remain on active duty. Approximately 50 percent of the 216 officers separated during this period were separated because of the expiration of category commitments. Of the remaining officers separated, 14 applied and were accepted for appointment in the Regular Army.

TABLE 16-Number of graduate dietitians, physical therapists, and occupational therapists called to active duty, fiscal years 1950-53

Inactive Reserve Officers

Available records indicate that 561 Women`s Medical Specialist Corps Reserve officers were not on active duty as of 1 July 1950. Of this number, there were 167 dietitians, 332 physical therapists, and 62 occupational therapists.20 On 30 June 1953, there were 288 Inactive Reserve officers: 76 dietitians, 135 physical therapists, and 77 occupational thera-

    19* * * unless such member was retired because of

(1) being unfit to perform the duties of his office, rank, grade, or rating by reason of physical disability incurred in line of duty, or
(2) achieving the age at which retirement is required by law, or
(3) whose application is approved in writing by the Secretary of Defense stating that the retirement is in the best interests of the service, or, is required to avoid cases of individual hardship. (Public Law 179, 82d Congress, approved 18 Oct. 1951.)

20See footnote 5, p. 374. Strength as of 30 June 1950.


pists.21 The disparity between the 1950 and 1953 figures for dietitians and physical therapists is primarily due to termination of Reserve commissions of women officers with dependents under 18 years of age since they would not be available for immediate active duty.

In the fall of 1950, preparation was begun on extension courses geared specifically to Women`s Medical Specialist Corp officers. These courses not only provided an additional worthwhile way for Inactive Reserve officers to earn points toward retirement but also served as a means by which these officers could keep abreast of current Army policies and procedures as well as current professional developments relating to their specialties. The courses were prepared by corps officers assigned to the Medical Field Service School, Fort Sam Houston, Tex. Following publication, a number of Inactive Reserve officers as well as some active-duty officers enrolled in the Army extension program.

Personnel Administration

During this period of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps history, attention was necessarily focused on the procurement of additional officers to meet the needs of the Army Medical Service during the Korean War. At the same time, the chief and assistant chiefs of the corps were vitally concerned with career planning which, in turn, was closely related to the procurement and retention of personnel.

Factors affecting retention

The Army in looking for qualified personnel continuously appraised the reasons given by those officers who were leaving the service. Examination of records, interviews by the chiefs in hospitals as officers left active duty, and general informal discussions revealed that Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers left the service for one of several reasons.

Separation because of marriage was the most common reason. Only 7 officers were separated by reason of marriage during the first 6 months of 1950 as compared with 30 officers separated for this reason in a similar period in 1953. From 1 July 1950 to 1 July 1953, 107 were separated because of marriage.22

Assignments made in the best interest of the service were not always considered desirable by the individual. In many instances, it was impossible to assign officers to a station of their choice, although these choices were given every possible consideration.

Frequency and length of oversea assignments as well as lack of stability in assignments were reasons for discontent. The increased requirement for personnel overseas necessitated shortened tours at other stations. While oversea assignments were made from among volunteers whenever possible, failure to do so in some cases caused a real hardship for those

21Ibid. Strength as of 30 June 1953.
22Semiannual Reports, Dietitian, Physical Therapist, and Occupational Therapist Sections, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, July 1950-June 1953.


individuals. A 3-year oversea tour, considered by many Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers to be too long for them to be away from home, was not standard for all branches of the service and thereby added to the dissatisfaction.23

Many of the young officers in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps were on duty fulfilling their category commitment after completing their training in the professional educational programs. Having had both their professional education and experience in the Army, many were more interested in working in a civilian establishment than they were in the job security and retirement program which the Army offered. The physical and occupational therapists were especially interested in civilian experience. Many felt that they were being shortchanged in experience in total rehabilitation programs because of the Army policy of transferring long-term or chronic patients to Veterans` Administration hospitals.

The problem of adequate and suitable housing for women officers of the Army Medical Service caused much dissatisfaction and had adverse effects on their procurement and retention on duty. There was a strong trend of opposition to traditional dormitory-type quarters. The officers desired apartment-type quarters or houses, comparable to those of their counterparts in the civilian professions. This concept had not yet been endorsed by the Army. While other aspects of service in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps were attractive in many ways, there was no doubt that the problem of housing had to be resolved if women were to be attracted to and retained in the service. A temporary measure of permitting women officers to live off post and receive quarters allowance was practiced in a few areas. Without a standard policy to be followed on all Army posts, this measure failed to solve the problem.

The Women`s Medical Specialist Corps grade structure and promotions were of chronic concern. These required study, revision, and liberalization in order to make grade and pay commensurate with experience and responsibility.

All of these internal factors which influenced the retention of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers on active duty required time and, in some cases, legislation to correct.

Career management

A well-defined and progressive career management program was considered necessary if the potential abilities of individual officers were to be developed and utilized with maximum effectiveness. The expansion of the Army Medical Service necessitated a large percentage of Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers being assigned in key administrative, supervisory, and teaching positions. Preparation of officers for such positions was of primary concern. At this time, for those few officers working

23In December 1953, the length of tour in the Far East Command was reduced to 2 years. This reduction later applied to all overses commands.


toward a master`s degree, the field of study was limited primarily to advanced work in the scientific aspects of their respective professions. Officers in administrative, teaching, and supervisory positions and those being groomed for such positions benefited from this type of study without question as did those whom they supervised or instructed. A definite need was recognized, however, for specific study in personnel management, counseling, human relations, teaching methods, and communication.

In the majority of installations where the food service, the physical therapy section, or the occupational therapy section was not functioning as smoothly or efficiently as it should be, it was apparent that the trouble was more often caused by lack of good management than by lack of professional knowledge and skill. A pilot symposium for physical and occupational therapists on leadership and supervisory techniques was, therefore, developed and approved in the Surgeon General`s Office and conducted at the Medical Field Service School in May 1951. This symposium on matters related to the areas already mentioned was the forerunner of the Institute for Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers which came to fruition in 1955.

Long and short courses in military and civilian institutions were available to Women`s Medical Specialist Corps members. Seven dietitians, four physical therapists, and one occupational therapist completed the master`s degree program. Thirty-four officers (10 dietitians, 9 physical therapists, and 15 occupational therapists) attended short courses conducted at civilian institutions. Sixty-seven attended military courses from June 1950 to July 1953. (See Appendix L, p. 615.)

Medical Service Women`s Officers` Course
(Basic Military Orientation Course)

In October 1952, the length of this course was increased to 8 weeks. At this time, a recommendation was made by the Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, that consideration be given to the establishment of a 4-week course especially adapted to the needs of corps officers. This recommendation was not approved; attendance at the course was discontinued for corps officers as of March 1953. Hospitals were instructed to include certain basic military orientation in the professional educational programs or in the initial assignment of newly graduated officers. This was an emergency measure which proved to be an unsatisfactory procedure for the orientation of newly commissioned officers.

The basic course was revised in 1953 to provide 4 weeks of common instruction for all Army Medical Service officers. Further weeks of professional orientation were provided for some corps but since three specialties were represented in the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, it was believed that more specific orientation, if needed, could be given in the first assignment. Beginning in July 1954, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps officers were routinely assigned to the basic course.



Uniforms were of vital concern to the members of the three women`s corps of the Army and without question influenced the morale of the women who wore them as well as the procurement of potential candidates for the service.

When the new taupe wool uniform was first displayed in September 1950 and worn by selected models from members of the women`s corps, reactions were varied. While the new uniform was a drastic departure from traditional ideas it was considered by some to be attractive on the young women selected to model it. Unfortunately, however, when it became available for general wear in 1951, it proved not to lend itself to wear by women of various sizes and proportions. The pattern of the jacket was so complex that civilian tailors declined to make uniforms to order; alterations were complicated and rarely successful. As a consequence, the number of ill-fitting uniforms was appalling. In addition, the collar which fitted close to the neck was hot and uncomfortable.

The overcoat was particularly unattractive, bulky, and ill-fitting and met with even greater dissatisfaction. The number of complaints concerning the raincoat resulted in a recommendation by the Chiefs, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps and Army Nurse Corps, on 21 June 1951, that this item be withdrawn from the market until such time as it could be rendered water repellent, an obviously basic requirement for a raincoat.

There was no summer duty uniform except the taupe cotton dress; it also caused much dissatisfaction. The design and material of this dress was such that the maintenance of a neat appearance was practically impossible. The unattractiveness and impracticality of this dress was so marked that many preferred to wear the taupe wool uniform all summer.

The dissatisfaction and problems engendered by the taupe uniform were discussed at frequent conferences attended by representatives of the Research and Development Division, Quartermaster General`s Office, Director, Women`s Army Corps, Chief, Army Nurse Corps, and Chief, Women`s Medical Specialist Corps. Changes in the uniform to make it more acceptable were studied by the chiefs of the women`s corps, but it became increasingly apparent that a satisfactory uniform could be achieved only by a complete change in the basic design. (See Chapter XII, p. 420-424.)


The Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, in addition to their activities relating to procurement, directed their attention toward the problem of the woefully inadequate housing provided women in the service. In November 1951, the committee recommended to the Secretary of Defense that existing housing as well as future housing


for enlisted women be brought in accord with the committee standards as soon as funds would permit.

The committee recommendations, identical with those made earlier by the Department of Defense Housing Commission, set the following minimum standards for housing facilities for women:24

a. Private sleeping quarters for personnel other than recruits.
b. Cubicle-type toilet facilities.
c. Both bathtub and shower facilities.
d. Adequate dayroom (recreational space) for women.
e. Adequate reception room for receiving and entertaining male personnel.
f. Cooking facilities.
g. Adequate laundry and drying space.
h. Adequate storage space.
i. Adequate collateral equipment (chairs, tables, mirrors, lamps, etc.).

This recommendation was directed primarily toward improving housing for enlisted women. Information furnished in 1952 by each of the military departments indicated progress toward compliance with the recommendations. No final action had been taken by July 1953 on a second recommendation concerned with determining the adequacy of quarters for single officers.


There were innumerable opportunities for various professional and community contacts which increased understanding between those in the military and those in civil life. The cumulative effects of various publicity measures and the liaison activities gradually became apparent in a more widespread knowledge of the Women`s Medical Specialist Corps, its mission, and the opportunities it offered. This was gratifying from any point of view but from the point of view of procurement it was imperative, for the corps could not have otherwise competed against the growing demands for qualified personnel in the health career field.

24Memorandum, Lt. Comdr. Elinor D. Rich, Executive Secretary to the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, for Colonel Nell Wickliffe, WMSC, 9 June 1954, subject: Housing for Women Officers, with inclosure.