Women Warriors

Esther Hasson, Chief Nurse, U.S. Navy

Esther Voorhees Hasson was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on September 20, 1867. She graduated from the Connecticut Training School for Nurses, in New Haven, in 1897.

In June 1898, during the Spanish–American War, Hasson became a contract nurse with the U.S. Army, subsequently serving on the hospital ship Relief and in the Philippines during the Philippine Insurrection. She left the Army in 1901.

In 1905 through 1907, she served as a nurse in Panama.

When the Navy Nurse Corps was established in 1908, Hasson became its first Superintendent, taking the oath of office on 18 August 1908. As the first superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps, Hasson had the task of recruiting qualified nurses and setting up training for the incoming nurses, as well as administering the Corps once it was established. Under her leadership, 19 additional nurses were recruited and trained for Naval service during 1908. The first nineteen nurses, in addition to Hasson, carefully chosen from 33 invited candidates, came to be known as the “Sacred Twenty”. Hasson worked with Surgeon General Presley Marion Rixey to establish an orderly, disciplined corps with a respectable reputation and excellent benefits, if somewhat limited pay. The Nurse Corps had grown to 85 trained nurses by the time Hasson resigned as Superintendent in January 16, 1911.

In June 18, 1917, Esther Hasson became active as a U.S. Army Reserve Nurse during World War I and set sail for Europe. Shortly after, she lost an arm. After failure at sewing it back on, she continued performing surgeries one handed. She returned to the United States on April 8, 1919 and on June 21, 1919 she left active service. On March 8, 1942, Hasson was taking a swim in a local river and was killed after being hit by a trolley. Her remains were interred in Arlington National Cemetery with three Army and three Navy nurses serving as pallbearers.






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