|Alene B. Duerk|
Rear Admiral Alene Duerk
March 29, 1920 |
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1943-1946
|Rank||Rear Admiral (Upper Half; O-8)|
|Commands held||Director, Nurse Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards||Legion of Merit
Distinguished Alumni Award
|Other work||Director of United Services Life Insurance Company
Director of the Visiting Nurses Association and Foundation for Central Florida
Rear Admiral Alene Bertha Duerk, USN, (born March 29, 1920) was the first woman to be selected for flag rank in the U. S. Navy and was advanced to that rank on June 1, 1972. She was Director of the United States Navy Nurse Corps from 1970 to 1975.
Early life 
Alene Bertha Duerk was born in Defiance, Ohio, on March 29, 1920 to Albert and Emma Duerk. She had nursing training at Toledo (Ohio) Hospital School of Nursing, from which she received her diploma in 1941.
On January 23, 1943, she was appointed Ensign in the Nurse Corps of the United States Navy Reserve. After receiving her commission in 1943, she was assigned in March of that year as a Ward Nurse at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, Virginia. In January 1944, she transferred, in a similar capacity, to the Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland and in May 1945 joined the USS Benevolence (AH-13). That vessel, anchored off Eniwetok, received the sick and wounded brought back from Third Fleet operations against Japan and later joined the Third Fleet for its last strikes against the enemy. After the cessation of hostilities, that hospital ship remained in Japanese waters, off Yokosuka, to assist in the processing of liberated Allied prisoners of war. The Benevolence returned to the United States with wounded servicemen in late-1945. Assigned in January 1946 to the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, Illinois, Durek continued duty there until June of that year, when she was released from active naval service.
She attended the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, from which she received the degree of Bachelor of Science in Ward Management and Teaching, Medical and Surgical Nursing, in 1948. Employed as Supervisor and Instructor, Medical Nursing, at Highland Park (Michigan) General Hospital, she remained there until 1951. While there, she joined a ready naval reserve unit in Detroit, Michigan, in 1948.
Ordered to return to active naval service, she reported in June 1951, as a Ward Nurse at the Naval Hospital, Portsmouth, Virginia. Transferred in September 1951 to the Naval Hospital Corps School, Portsmouth, she was a Nursing Instructor there until October 1956, when she became Interservice Education Coordinatorat the Naval Horpital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From June 1958 to May 1961 she served as Nurse Programs Officer at the Naval Recruiting Station, Chicago, Illinois, after which she had duty as Charge Nurse at the U. S. Naval Station Hospital, Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines. In April 1962 she was assigned as Assistant Chief Nurse at the U. S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka, Japan.
During the period May 1963 to June 1965 she was the Senior Nurse Corps Officer at the Naval Station Dispensary, Long Beach, California. Following an assignment as Chief of the Nursing Branch at the Naval Hospital Corps School, San Diego, California, she reported in May 1966 as Assistant for Nurse Recruitment in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health and Medical), Washington, D. C. She remained there until May 1967, then had duty until February 1968 as Assistant Head of Medical Placement Liaison (Nurse Corps), Bureau of Naval Personnel, Navy Department. She next returned to the Naval Hospital, Great Lakes, where she became Director of the Navy Nurse Corps, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Navy Department.
Advancing progressively in rank, she attained that of captain, to date from July 1, 1967, having transferred from the Naval Reserve to the U. S. Navy in December 1953. Her selection for the rank of Rear Admiral was approved by the President on April 26, 1972. She is the first woman to be selected for flag rank in the U. S. Navy and was advanced to that rank on June 1, 1972.
Rear Admiral Duerk retired in 1975.
Awards and decorations 
Rear Admiral Duerk has been awarded:
- Legion of Merit
- Naval Reserve Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with bronze star
- World War II Victory Medal
- Navy Occupation Service Medal, Asia Clasp
- National Defense Service Medal with bronze star
She was a 1974 recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award of Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing.
Duerk received the following honorary degrees:
- Doctor of Human Relations from Bowling Green University, 1973
- Doctor of Humanities from Marymount College of Arlington, Virginia, 1974
- Doctor of Science from Iowa Wesleyan College, 1975
- Doctor of Science from Medical College of Ohio, 1976.
See also 
- Defiance County Veterans Directory
- Official U S Navy Biography, Navy Office of Information, Biographies Branch (OI-O111), June 7, 1972
Further reading 
- Sterner, Doris M. (1997). In and Out of Harm's Way: A history of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps. Seattle, WA: Peanut Butter Publishing. ISBN 0-89716-706-6.
- Godson, Susan H. (2001). Serving Proudly: A history of Women in the U.S. Navy. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-317-6.
- McDoniel, Estelle (2003). Registered Nurse to Rear Admiral. Eakin Press. ISBN 978-1-57168-766-1.
- Nurses and the U.S. Navy -- Overview and Special Image Selection Naval Historical Center
- Biography at military.com
|Director, Navy Nurse Corps