First Lt. Annie G. Fox, of the Army Nurse Corps, was the first woman to receive the Purple Heart for combat. She earned the medal for “outstanding performance of duty, meritorious acts of extraordinary fidelity and essential service” during the attack on Hickam Field, Dec. 7, 1941. At that time, the awarding of the Purple Heart did not require the recipient to be wounded in action.
As chief nurse at Hickam Field, Hawaii, Fox cared for patients during the heaviest bombardment of Pearl Harbor. She “administered anesthesia, assisted in dressing the wounded, taught civilian volunteer nurses to make dressings, and worked ceaselessly with coolness and efficiency, [setting a] fine example of calmness, courage and leadership of great benefit to the morale of all with whom she came in contact,” states her Purple Heart citation.
In honor of Fox and her heroics, a canine in the dog therapy program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) bears her name. Army Maj. Gen. Jimmie Keenan commissioned the mix-breed Labrador and golden retriever to first lieutenant Oct. 15 in front of the historic Tower on Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB). Keenan is deputy commanding general for operations at the U.S. Army Medical Command and chief of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.
Canines in the dog therapy program provide comfort, support, hope and “unconditional love” to wounded, ill and injured patients, as well as to staff at WRNMMC and NSAB, according to Keenan. The dogs can also assist with retrieving objects, providing balance for some beneficiaries, pulling wheelchairs, opening and closing doors, and turning lights on and off. All bolster the healing process, Keenan explained.
“What [Annie and other therapy dogs] do every day for our service members and their families, the hope [they] give them and the difference [they] make in their lives, is huge,” Keenan added. She said this is reflective of the hope 1st Lt. Annie G. Fox gave those she provided care to during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. “She was calm, performed triage, and saved lives during that very difficult time.”
The Army’s top nurse also thanked the WRNMMC staff for the care and hope they give beneficiaries at the military’s premier medical center. “Every day you get up and get to do the best job [there is] — take care of America’s sons and daughters. We have a most sacred and important job because we have the ultimate responsibility to our patients,” she concluded.