About Anna Mae Hays
Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays was born on 16 February 1920 in Buffalo, New York to parents who both were Salvation Army officers. Religion, music, and a spirit of service were guiding lights in the McCabe household. The nature of the elder McCabes' calling required that the family of five move several times and settle in a number of locations in western New York state and eastern Pennsylvania over the years. After graduating from high school, Hays attended the Allentown General Hospital School of Nursing and graduated with a diploma in nursing in 1941.
When approached by a representative of the 20th General Hospital, the University of Pennsylvania unit, a sense of duty and patriotic fervor inspired Hays to join the Army Nurse Corps. She came on active duty early in 1942 and traveled by train with her unit to a staging area, Camp Claiborne, Louisiana. There the unit's nurses worked mornings in the station hospital, drilled and studied military subjects in the afternoons, and socialized in the evenings. In January 1943, Hays' unit proceeded to Ledo, Assam, India, 1,000 miles above Calcutta at the beginning of the famous Ledo Road which cut through the jungles into Burma. She remained there for 2 l/2 years and subsequently returned to the states on leave. While she was home on leave, World War II ended. After the war, Hays served as an operating room nurse and later as a head nurse at Tilton General Hospital at Fort Dix, New Jersey; as obstetrics supervisor at Valley Forge General Hospital in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania; and as head nurse of the outpatient clinic at Fort Myer, Virginia.
In the summer of 1950, Hays traveled with the 4th Field Hospital to Inchon, Korea, landing shortly after MacArthur's invasion at Inchon. During both of her combat tours in World War II and the Korean War, Hays spent part of her off duty time assisting chaplains by playing a field pump organ for weddings and church services, often on the front lines. After receiving enough points to leave Korea during her seven month combat tour, Hays transferred to Tokyo Army Hospital and spent a year there as a management nurse in the comptroller's office.
On 11 June 1970, Colonel Anna Mae Hays was promoted to the grade of general and became the first woman in the United States Armed Forces to wear the insignia of a brigadier general. The Army Chief of Staff, General William C. Westmoreland, and the Secretary of the Army, Stanley C. Resor, officiated at the ceremony. The Army Surgeon General, Hal B. Jennings, pinned the stars on Hays' uniform. The former Corps Chiefs of the Corps, Colonels Ruby F. Bryant, Inez Haynes, and Mildred I. Clark, attended the ceremony. Mrs. Mamie Eisenhower, a number of the members of Congress, DACOWITS officials, an assemblage of civilian and military nursing leaders, and Hays' brother and sister also were present.