A Soldier's Story: Major Della Hayden Raney Jackson

Major Della Hayden Raney Jackson was born on January 10, 1912, in Suffolk, Virginia. She moved to Durham, North Carolina, to attend nursing school at the Lincoln Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1937.

She continued to work at the Lincoln Hospital, including supervising the operating room while trying to get approval to enlist in the U.S.Army, which, because of the racial bias at the time, did not occur until April of 1941.

Major Della Hayden Raney Jackson was first assigned as the commander of the nurses of African descent at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was the first woman of African descent to hold a command position.

In March 1942, she was assigned to the Tuskegee Army Airfield and promoted to Chief Nurse. She continued to supervise nursing units throughout the war, and during the occupation of Japan, she was deployed to a nursing unit there.

Major Della Hayden Raney Jackson retired from the U.S. Army in 1978. On October 23, 1987, she died and rests in Arlington National Cemetery.

In 2012 the National Black Nurses Association and the Tuskegee Airman's Foundation started a scholarship in her name.


a.d. elliott is a wanderer, writer, and photographer currently living in Salem, Virginia. 

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