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Bowman, J. Beatrice

Bowman, J. Beatrice

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Lieutenant Commander, Nurse Corps, USN, (1881-1971)

Josephine Beatrice Bowman was born in Des Moines, Iowa, on 19 December 1881. She graduated from nurses' training at the Medico-Chirurgical Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1904 and soon enrolled with the American Red Cross Nursing Service. In the spring of 1908, Miss Bowman took part in the first Red Cross disaster relief operation after a tornado caused extensive damage around Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Later that year, she joined the newly-established U.S. Navy Nurse Corps as one of its first twenty members. She was promoted to Chief Nurse in 1911.

Chief Nurse Bowman temporarily left the Navy in October 1914 and spent the next several months as a Red Cross nurse caring for war casualties in Great Britain. She returned to the Navy in May 1915. After the U.S. entered World War I, she became Chief Nurse at the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Illinois, and guided its nursing staff during that facility's great expansion to meet the needs of war and the 1918-19 influenza epidemic.

In 1919, Chief Nurse Bowman led the first contingent of Navy Nurses assigned to the hospital ship USS Relief (AH-1), the first Navy women to serve at sea. She became Superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps in December 1922 and held that position for over twelve years, until her retirement at the beginning of 1935. Following her departure from active duty, she made her home in Pennsylvania and stayed active in national and local nursing affairs. When Navy Nurses were included in the Navy's ranking system, she received the retirement rank of Lieutenant Commander in recognition of her service as Nurse Corps' Superintendent. Lieutenant Commander J. Beatrice Bowman died on 3 January 1971.

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