U. S. Cadet Nurse Corps

The new official flag of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps was unfurled and formerly presented to the Corps in a special first anniversary ceremony July 1, 1944, by Surgeon General Dr. Parran on the steps of the U. S. Public Health Service, Washington D.C.  Lucile Petry, Director of the Corps, accepted the white, silver, and scarlet banner emblazoned with the Maltese cross on behalf of the Corps.  (Left to right:  Francis P. Bolton, Representative from Ohio who introduced the bill that created the Cadet Nurse Corps, Cadet Nurse Color Guards holding the flags, Dr. Parran, and Miss Petry.)  (Photo courtesy: National Archives and Records Administration II)

The Cadet Nurse Corps was a massive and important federal program for the training of American nurses during the second World War.  Cadet nurses were the largest and youngest group of uniformed women to serve their country.  It was a time when nursing students lived together in nurse residences, when the boys went off to war and when cadets cared for civilians at home and those who returned home after being injured in battle.

In February 1945, Surgeon General Dr. Parran testifying before the House of Military Affairs reported:

    The U. S. Cadet Nurse Corps has been highly successful. . . Our best estimates are that

     students are giving 80% of the nursing in their associated hospitals.  By replacing

    graduate nurses who already have gone into the military, the U. S. Cadet Nurse Corps has

    prevented a collapse of the nursing care in hospitals.

The Maltese cross was on the banner of the US Cadet Nurse Corps and was worn on the left shoulder of the cadet nurse uniform.  Once worn by the Knights of St. John, the Maltese cross survived the crusades and became the insignia of many groups caring for the sick.  The cadet nurse uniform and insignia were prescribed by the U. S. Public Health Service.


U. S. Cadet Nurse Corps

  1. -1943 to 1948

  2. -Administered by  USPHS

  3. -Number inducted - 180,000

  4. -Number graduated - 124,000

  5. -Average Age - 19 years

Symbol - Maltese Cross

Colors - Scarlet & Grey

Number of programs -

    1,250 throughout 48 states,

    Washington D. C., and

    Porto Rico

Cadet Nurses served on the Home Front providing nursing services in civilian and military hospitals, public health clinics and Indian Health Service.

Welcome cadet nurses, families, and friends: