Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Annie G. Fox: Woman of Valor

Tomorrow marks the eighty-second anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, a “day that would live in infamy,” and the impetus for the United States to join the war that was taking over the globe. Located on Oahu, the third largest of the Hawaiian islands and home to Honolulu, the base at Pearl Harbor was the main base for the American Naval Fleet in the Pacific Ocean. Schofield Barracks, headquarters of the 25th Infantry Division, and several Army airfields were also part of the base. More than 35,000 soldiers lived and worked at Pearl, and in fact, more soldiers than sailors were present on the day of the attack.

There were a mere eighty-two nurses stationed in Hawaii at three Army medical facilities that day. First Lieutenant Annie G. Fox, Chief Nurse in the Army Nurse Corps at Hickam Field was on duty at the time of the attack. The forty-seven-year-old nurse was a twenty-three-year veteran having enlisted in 1918, a few months prior to the end of World War I. Annie was born in Pubnico, Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, to Doctor Charles Fox and Deidamia Fox. I couldn’t unearth how she came to the U.S.

After WWI, she served in New York, Texas (Fort Sam Houston), California (Fort Mason), and two locations in the Philippines. After some time back in the continental U.S., she was assigned to Honolulu in May 1940 and received her promotion to Chief Nurse in August 1941, after which she was moved to Hickam in November of that year at the same time the 30-bed hospital opened.

Casualties that included a high percentage of burn victims poured into the facility within minutes of
the first bombing run. As bombs fell and fighter jets filled the sky, Annie pulled together the nurses and organized the hospital’s response. Officers’ wives and NCOs reported to the facility, and Annie trained them how to make hospital dressings by the hundreds and assist with patient care. She participated in surgery, administered anesthesia, and tended the wounded. By all reports, Annie maintained a cool demeanor during the entire event.

A year later, Annie was awarded the Purple Heart, her citation reading in part, “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.”

In 1942, the criteria to receive a Purple Heart changed to be limited to wounds received as a result of enemy action, and Annie's award was rescinded. She was then given the Bronze Star Medal in replacement. Four other nurses were also recognized for their performance during the attack: Captain Helena Clearwater, First Lt. Elizabeth A. Pesut, Second Lt. Elma L. Asson, and Second Lt. Rosalie L. Swenson, each receiving the Legion of Merit “for extraordinary fidelity and essential service.”

Annie was promoted to Captain and in May 1943 transferred to Letterman General Hospital in San Francisco, California, later moving to Camp Phillips, Kansas where she was promoted to Major. After retiring in December 1945, she moved to San Diego, California to live near two of her sisters. She never married and passed away on January 20, 1987 at the age of 93.


Francine’s Foibles:

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Purchase link:

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, she was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry (of Star-Spangled Banner fame) and has lived in historical places all her life. She now lives in central New Hampshire where she is a volunteer docent and archivist at the Wright Museum of WWII.


  1. Thank you for posting today. I don't think her Purple Heart (or any awarded before the rule change) should have been rescinded, but I'm glad it was replaced. So many wonderful people in this generation stepped up for exemplary service.

  2. For all she did, Annie G. Fox deserved to keep her Purple Heart and receive the Bronze Star as well.

  3. This is another wonderful story of heroism in the midst of a crisis. Annie Fox and those like her are heroes in my book, and I'm glad they were rewarded the Bronze Star even though the purple one was rescinded. Truly a woman of valor!