Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Annie Fox ~ Head Nurse at Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941 ~ Never Forget

Remembering Pearl Harbor ~ 80 Years Later

The thirty-bed hospital at Hickam Field opened less than a month before the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. On that frightful morning, the Hawaiian paradise exploded into a burning bloodbath of death and destruction.

Though 1st Lt. Annie Fox joined the US Army Nurse Corps near the end of World War One, she’d never been in a battle…until now.

The forty-seven-year-old head nurse of the Hickam Field hospital immediately organized the nurses and also the wives of the military personnel who volunteered to tend the wounded and gather supplies.

Because of her courage and leadership, Lt. Fox was awarded the Purple Heart on October 26, 1942. She was the first American woman to receive this prestigious medal.

Here’s a quote from her citation:

“During the attack, Lieutenant Fox in an exemplary manner, performed her duties as head nurse of the Station Hospital… [She] worked ceaselessly with coolness and efficiency and her fine example of calmness, courage, and leadership was of great benefit to the morale of all with whom she came in contact” (National Women’s History Museum).

Sometime later, the rules for who could receive a Purple Heart changed. Only those who had been wounded in battle were now eligible to receive the medal.

For that reason, Lt. Fox was awarded the Bronze Star in October 1944 and her Purple Heart was rescinded. In making this decision, "the Report of Decorations Board cited the same acts of heroism as those cited for the Purple Heart. The last paragraph of the report reads: 'The Bronze Star Medal is in lieu of the Purple Heart awarded. . .'" (Military-History Fandom).

Lt. Fox’s courage was again recognized in March 2017 when Hawai’i Magazine included her in a list of “15 Extraordinary Hawai’i Women Who Inspire Us All" compiled by Matthew Dekneef (March 8, 2017).

The listing recognizes Lt. Fox, ranked number 13 on the list, as the first woman to receive the Purple Heart and explains how the medal was rescinded and replaced by the Bronze Star.

Brief Bio:
  • Annie Gayton Fox was born on August 4, 1893 in Nova Scotia. Her father was a medical doctor.
  • She joined the US Army Nurse Corps in 1918 and served in both WWI and WWII.
  • Before she retired from active duty in December 1945, Annie had been promoted to captain and then to major.
  • She died on January 20, 1987 at the age of 93.
As we commemorate the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, let us also remember the courage of Head Nurse Annie Fox and those who served alongside her to save as many lives as possible on that “Day of Infamy.”

[Photo Credits: Public Domain]

Johnnie Alexander imagines characters you'll want to meet and stories you won’t forget in multiple genres. A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, she shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon.

Purchase The Cryptographer's Dilemma at http://bit.ly/ja-TCD.

Connect with Johnnie at johnnie-alexander.com.


  1. Thank you for posting about this! I didn't know about the rescinding of an honor after the fact. Interesting.

  2. Thank you for this fascinating post! I love reading about extraordinary women like Annie.