Dauser, Sue (b. 1888)

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Dauser, Sue (b. 1888)

American superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps. Born Sue Sophia Dauser in Anaheim, California, on September 20, 1888; daughter of Francis X. Dauser and Mary Anna (Steuckle) Dauser; graduated from the Fullerton High School, 1907; attended Leland Stanford University, 1907–09; graduated from California Hospital School of Nursing, Los Angeles.

In September 1917, five months after the United States entered World War I, 29-year-old Sue Dauser, joined the Naval Reserve as a nurse. Immediately appointed a chief nurse in charge of Base Hospital No. 3, a medical facility organized in Los Angeles, she was then mobilized in Philadelphia for shipment overseas. Eight months later, Dauser was appointed nurse in the Regular Navy and, once again, immediately promoted to chief nurse, U.S. Navy. After duty with Base Hospital No. 3 in Edinburgh, Scotland, she served at naval hospitals in Brooklyn, San Diego, and aboard ship. In 1923, when President Warren G. Harding made his Alaskan cruise on the Henderson, she tended the president aboard ship during his final illness. Her later tours included "tropical duty" in Guam and the Philippines, after which she served in San Diego and Puget Sound, Washington. Dauser subsequently served at Mare Island, California, and at the U.S. Naval Dispensary at Long Beach, where she was in charge of nursing activities from 1935 to 1939.

In 1939, she was named superintendent of the Navy Nurse Corps. Dauser was given the twofold task of organizing and administering the expanded Nurse Corps in preparation for and during World War II, as well as securing equitable rank and privileges for navy nurses. (At the time, the navy offered its nurses only vague "officer's privileges" in lieu of relative rank, thus making it difficult to recruit reserves.) In July 1942, Congress provided for relative rank (title and uniform, but not commission, pay, or other benefits of regular rank), and Dauser received the relative rank of lieutenant commander. The pay discrepancies ($90 for a nurse ensign as compared to $150 for a male counterpart) were addressed in December 1942. A year later, in December 1943, Dauser was promoted to the relative rank of captain, equivalent to Florence A. Blanchfield 's army rank of colonel, making her the first American woman entitled to wear four gold stripes on the sleeve of her uniform. In February 1944, temporary commissions were authorized for all army and navy nurses.

Dauser, who outranked all other women commanders in the armed forces, continued her leadership of some 8,000 nurse officers until November 1945, when she stepped down as superintendent. She retired from the navy in April 1964 and took up residence in La Mesa, California.