EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE — Members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter No. 811 will unveil a nurses monument this week.
The granite obelisk will pay tribute to four nurses, both military and civilian, living and deceased, who have shown an extraordinarily caring heart in their work.
The ceremony is 10 a.m. Sept. 7 in front of the Eglin Air Force Base Armament Museum, 100 Museum Drive.
The monument's four sides will memorialize and honor Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910; Major Annie Fox, 1893-1987; 1st Lieutenant Sharon Lane, 1943-1969; and Linda Whitenton, born in 1946.
Known as the founder of modern nursing, Nightingale managed and trained nurses during the Crimean War. Pursing professional roles for the women who came after her time, she founded her nursing school, St Thomas’ Hospital in London, and authored “Notes on Nursing.” Her legacy elevated the nursing profession. In recognition of her work nurses today recite the “Nightingale Pledge” aiming for devoted service while encouraging elevation in achievements.
Fox served as an officer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World Wars I and II. One month into her post as chief nurse at Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The bombing raids resulted in overwhelming numbers of injured and burned personnel, yet Fox served with a “calming professionalism.” As a result of her work, she became the first female recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star commendations.
Lane, who joined the U.S. Army Nurse Corps Reserve in 1968, served in the 312th Evacuation Hospital in Chu Lai, Vietnam in the Surgical ICU and in the Vietnamese Ward. She was killed by a salvo of 122mm rockets fired by the Viet Cong on the Hospital. Though one in eight American military nurses died while serving in Vietnam, Lane was the only American nurse killed as a direct result of hostile fire. Lane was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with “V” device, and the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross (with Palm).
Whitenton has 50 years of nursing and training nurses. Her work designing and directing nursing and health care programs in private and academic sectors led to the education of countless health degree students and employees. She also built and oversaw The Northwest Florida State College’s Associate Degree Nursing Program, Registered Nursing to Bachelor of Science Nursing degree programs, Emergency Medical Technician /Paramedic, Radiography, Dental Assisting, and Surgical Technology programs. Her love for learning enriched her career and continues to enrich health professionals' careers.