Louise Virginia Lomax, American, 1920 - 2011 Search this
H x W x D: 1 × 1 1/16 × 5/16 in. (2.5 × 2.7 × 0.8 cm)
Tuskegee, Macon County, Alabama, United States, North and Central America
Louise Lomax joined the Army Nurse Corps (ANC) as a 2nd Lieutenant in March 1943 with the help of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN) and trained as a psychiatric nurse at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. By September 1943 she was stationed at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama, home of the Tuskegee Airmen. Lomax remained at Tuskegee during the war, where she was eventually promoted to 1st Lieutenant.The Army originally denied African American nurses entry into the ANC at the start of the war. However, pressure from the NACGN, as well as political and civil rights organizations, forced them to rescind this policy, although they instituted strict enlistment quotas. By the end of the war, only approximately 500 Black nurses had been allowed to serve compared to approximately 59,000 white nurses. Because of segregation in the Army, Black nurses served in segregated units and were limited to caring for African American soldiers and prisoners of war. Even under these restrictions, African American nurses served with distinction at home and abroad, including in Africa, England, Burma, and the Southwest Pacific.After the war, Lt. Lomax went on to serve at Lockbourne Army Air Base in Ohio; Provident Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland; at VA hospitals in Downey, Illinois; and Perry Point, Maryland; and finally at the Army’s Percy Jones General Hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. Lt. Lomax retired from active duty in March 1949 and transferred to the Reserve Corps.
Although segregation in the military had been officially abolished with the 1948 passage of Executive Order 9981, it wasn't until the Korean War in the early 1950s that Black military nurses were able to serve for the first time in integrated hospitals. They served with distinction in the U.S., Korea, and Japan.
After four years in the Reserves, Lt. Lomax was honorably discharged from the Army Nurse Corps in April 1953.
An Army Nurse Corps (ANC) insignia pin worn by Lt. Louise Lomax as part of her ANC uniform. The pin is a gold caduceus with a black "N" superimposed. The pin is missing its fastening clasp.
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Pia Marie Winters Jordan in memory of her mother, First Lieutenant Louise Virginia Lomax Winters, Army Nurse Corps; and her uncle, Sgt. Henry James Lomax, U.S. Army