Beatrice MacDonald's rise within the corps was mentioned and her heroic service would be recognized be being a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross. One medal down from the Medal of Honor. Details of her story have appeared in past blogs in this space.
Not only being a recipient, she would be the first woman, and in fact THE FIRST OF EITHER SEX to be so awarded in the US Army.
MacDonald's services no doubt went on to serve as a paving stone for others to follow. Trails of their own footprints left in a history typically overwhelming by their male counterparts. Trails for all to follow across the US and Canada and elsewhere as well.
Four of these "followers" led equally important trails within the US Navy. These four would be the first...and only female recipients... ever to be awarded the US Navy's... Navy Cross. This is equivelent to the DSC, but one created for the navy, and again just one medal down from the Medal of Honor.
I have mentioned in the past that there were only 4 Navy nurses who earned this highly coveted award. Much has been written in this space about the recipients, three of whom died while falling to the deadly epidemic of 1918, and whist performing care for their inflicted patients.
One of these three, I have just discovered was another Canadian woman, named Miss Lilian Mary (Louise?) Murphy from St. Catharines Ontario. She was only 31 years old when she succumbed to the epidemic, having served only 9 months in the service before losing her life.
The sole survivor of the four NC recipients was Mrs. Lenah S Higbee, oft noted in this space, the 2nd ever Superintendant of the US Navy Nurse Corps. She was born in Chatham New Brunswick.
Nurse Higbee would become the first women living, and the first woman ever in the US Navy to be awarded their Navy Cross. Over 6000 NC's have been awarded, yet only 4, to the above nurses.
In the south east corner of the state of Mississippi there is a place called Pajcagoula, and located there are the famous shipyards of Ingalls Industries. Back in 1945 they built a war ship and christened it with the name USS Higbee in honour of Superintendant Higbee.
The same shipyard is now building a second vessel in honour of this Canadian nurse and hope to launch it in about 2024, with the name... USS Lenah H Sutcliffe Bigbee.
Past blogs have told you about other ships in the US military in honor of Medal of Honor recipients like Douglas Munro, and James Stoddard.
In a few years time we are supposed to see the launching of a Canadian war ship honouring Nova Scotia's William Hall, VC, Canada's third ever Victoria Cross recipient and our first and only VC recipient of colour.
On that note I shall close for today but state that the next blog will finish off two stories regarding folks of colour being... or not being... properly recognized during our recent Black History Month across Canada.
Please join me a week from today.