Brigadier General Anna Mae Hays epitomized the phrase “selfless service” during her 29 years in the United States military. She was the first American woman to have ever achieved the rank of General, and she joined the military at the height of U.S. involvement in WWII. She died on January 7, 2018 of complications from a heart attack at the age of 97.

Brig. Gen. Hays began her career as an Army nurse, joining in 1942 where she would serve in a field hospital in India. There, the field hospital would attend to approximately 49,000 patients garnering an extensive amount of experience for her as a nurse. According to the Army Heritage Center, she said,

I joined during World War II. As you know, the war was declared on 7 December 1941, and from that time until I joined in May of 1942, the papers were full of stories about individuals serving their country. [B]eing a nurse, I too wanted to serve my country.”

American Heritage Center

After two years of working in the austere conditions there, far out in a marginalized area, she was promoted from 2nd to 1st Lt. The war ended soon after, but she continued to serve.