Looking at this fine wooden board leaning against the wall in my office, I appear to be the 28th person to hold this particular position.
Twenty-ninth according to the Army Surgeon General’s history section if you want to include the forward observer here in 1917.
Primarily there have been physicians assigned here with the exception of two Medical Service Corps Officers. The first woman was assigned in 1944, and I am the second.
Technically, there were no women in the Army Medical Corps in 1944, it wasn’t legal. Having said that, the first 5-6 women were commissioned in 1943. It is hard to tell, since there really are no records. On purpose there were no records. Apparently MAJ Bowditch was one of the first groups commissioned then posted immediately to Great Britain where she also served as Deputy Defense Attaché. A 1935 graduate of Johns Hopkins, she went on to work at the Army Surgeon General’s Office after the war.
And that is just about all I can find. A couple of mentions in our internal historical reports (Buchenwald within days of entry to provide public health guidance). She died in 1966 reported in a British Medical Journal Obit.
Research is much more challenging when looking at the prior to the Internet era. I still have stones to turn, records to request. She obviously was not into self promotion, just a professional who did her job well and quietly.
What will we leave of our personal and professional selves for the next generation? An understanding of what it was like to be us? How we interacted with the world around us? Where we fit with both professional and personal lives?
Perhaps it is not those pioneers who make sure that you know they were there first, those who are writing all their accomplishments for press and publication. Rather it may be those who quietly and professionally went to do their jobs, leaving the world a better place for their contributions.