Navy’s First Female Admiral Dies at 98

When Alene B. Duerk enlisted in the Navy Nurse Corps, leaving her nursing job at a Toledo department store at the height of World War II, she envisioned a few months’ service to her country followed by a swift return to civilian life.

Yet after treating scores of wounded sailors and prisoners of war, working alongside other smart, ambitious women in the corps, she found that the Navy provided a sense of mission and camaraderie that she felt was missing from her workaday life back home.

She went on to a nearly three-decade military career as a ward manager, surgical nurse, recruiter, educator and barrier-breaking administrator, serving in the early 1970s as the Navy’s top nurse and first female admiral.

Premium Employers