Bowman, Josephine Beatrice, LCDR

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Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Last Service Branch
Nurse Corps
Last Primary NEC
290X-Nurse Corps Officer
Last Rating/NEC Group
Staff Corps Officer
Primary Unit
1922-1934, 290X, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Bureau of Medicine (BUMED)
Service Years
1908 - 1935
Nurse Corps
Lieutenant Commander

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

18 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sheila Rae Myers, HM3 to remember Bowman, Josephine Beatrice, LCDR.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Des Moines, IA
Last Address
308 Broadway
Hanover, PA

Date of Passing
Jan 03, 1971
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
21 639

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 Unofficial Badges 

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

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, Bowman took part in the first Red Cross disaster relief operation after a tornado caused extensive damage around Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

On 3 October 1908, Bowman joined the newly established U.S. Navy Nurse Corps as one of its first twenty members (the "Sacred Twenty"). 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. As the supervising nurse of Unit D, she served at Royal Naval Hospital Haslar, England, for six months. She returned to the Navy in May 1915. In early 1916 she arrived in Guam to conduct a two-year course with three other nurses in modern midwifery and practical nursing at the Navy Nurse's training school in Guam for the local Chamorro women. She also chaired the Department of Physiology and Hygiene at the normal school. 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. She also served as chief nurse at Fort Lyon, Colorado, a Navy tuberculosis sanitarium for sailors and marines.

In 1920, 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.

As superintendent, Bowman worked hard to recruit nurses for the Navy Nurse Corps and to improve the pay benefits and uniforms for the nurses. She advocated for military status and encouraged postgraduate education. Inspections were increased for the purpose of establishing uniform standards across all naval hospitals.
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. Bowman died on 3 January 1971 in Pennsylvania and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Other Comments:

Service number: 4150337

The information contained in this profile was compiled from various internet sources.

Note about ranks:
In 1908, the Navy Medical Department was comprised of Medical Corps Officers and Hospital Corpsmen (then referred to as Hospital Stewards and Hospital Apprentices).  Unlike their physician counterparts, the first nurses did not hold rank.  Navy nurses were not granted "relative rank" until July 3, 1942.  Nurse Corps officers were finally granted "full military rank" on February 26, 1944.

Because TWS requires ranks to be listed, I have chosen to list Jospehine Bowman as an Ensign for most of her duty stations. Navy Registers list her as a Lieutenant Commander as of December 1, 1922; however, that rank and pay appears to be retroactive since the registers are dated from 1942 onward.
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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Naval Hospital Agana, GuamBureau of Medicine (BUMED)Naval Hospital Great Lakes, ILUSS Relief (AH-1)
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Bureau of Medicine (BUMED)
  1916-1917, 290X, Naval Hospital Agana, Guam
  1917-1917, 290X, Naval Hospital Canacao, Philippines
  1917-1919, 290X, Naval Hospital Great Lakes, IL
  1919-1920, 290X, Naval Hospital, Fort Lyon, CO
  1920-1922, 290X, USS Relief (AH-1)
  1922-1934, 290X, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Bureau of Medicine (BUMED)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1917-1918 World War I
 Colleges Attended 
Medico-Chirurgical College of Pennsylvania
  1901-1904, Medico-Chirurgical College of Pennsylvania
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Orginization and group memberships
  May 07, 1916, Navy Nurse Corps1
  Nov 03, 1919, Application for Adjusted Compensation1
  Nov 15, 1920, Victory Medal Receipt1
  Dec 01, 1922, Promoted to Lieutenant Commander
  Sep 30, 1924, With the Women of Today1
  May 04, 1934, Retirement Request1
  May 19, 1939, Hanover D.A.R. Elect Officers1
  Feb 19, 1943, Blood Plasma Mobile Unit Busy1
  Nov 10, 1944, Executive Committee1
  May 23, 1958, Retirement Research Sheet1
  Jan 03, 1971, Arlington National Cemetery2
  Jan 04, 1971, Former Navy Nurse Chief Dies at 891
  Jan 04, 1971, Miss Bowman, 1st Navy Nurse, Dead1
  Aug 17, 2018, General Photos1
 Military Association Memberships
American LegionDaughters of the American RevolutionUnited States Navy Memorial
  1920, American Legion [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  1935, Daughters of the American Revolution
  2018, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
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