Hazel Johnson-Brown

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Johnson-Brown as a brigadier general, circa 1979

Hazel Winifred Johnson-Brown (October 10, 1927 – August 5, 2011)[1][2] was a nurse and educator who served in the United States Army from 1955 to 1983. In 1979 she became the first black female general in the United States Army and the first black chief of the United States Army Nurse Corps.[3] She was also the Director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing.[4]

Early life[edit]

Hazel Johnson was born in 1927 in West Chester, Pennsylvania, one of seven children. She grew up on her father’s farm in Chester County, near the town of Malvern. When she was twelve, she was inspired to become a nurse by a local white public health nurse. Her application to the West Chester School of Nursing was rejected because she was black. She moved to New York City, and enrolled in the Harlem Hospital School of Nursing in 1947.[5]

Start of career[edit]

Johnson-Brown enlisted in the Army in 1955, shortly after President Harry Truman banned segregation and discrimination in the armed services. In 1960 Johnson-Brown become a first lieutenant and joined the Army's Nursing Corps. She was a staff nurse in Japan and Chief nurse in Korea.[6] She earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from Villanova University in 1959. She went on to earn master's degree in nursing education from Columbia University (1963) and a doctorate in education administration from Catholic University of America (1978).[7] She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

Johnson-Brown served at military hospitals in Japan at the start of her career. During the Vietnam War, she trained surgical nurses preparing to deploy to Southeast Asia. In the 1970s, Johnson-Brown served as director of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing.

Johnson-Brown was Assistant Dean of the University of Maryland School of Nursing from 1976 to 1978.[8] At the time of her selection to head the Army Nurse Corps she was serving as chief nurse of the Army hospital in Seoul, South Korea.

Later career[edit]

In 1979 Johnson-Brown was promoted to brigadier general as head of the Army Nurse Corps, the Army's first black woman general, and the first black woman to serve as the Army's senior nurse.[9]

Grave of Gen. Johnson-Brown at Arlington National Cemetery

In 1983 Johnson-Brown retired from service and began working as the director of the American Nursing Association's government affairs division. In 1986 she became a professor of nursing at George Mason University.

Death and burial[edit]

Johnson-Brown died in Wilmington, Delaware on August 5, 2011 while en route to the hospital. She was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


In 1981, Johnson-Brown married to David Brown. Their marriage ended in divorce, and they had no children.


Military awards[edit]


  1. ^ "Hazel Johnson Obituary". Legacy.org. 
  2. ^ "Hazel Johnson-Brown Remembered". CareerSchoolAdvisor.com. Retrieved 2011-08-22. 
  3. ^ "Hazel Johnson". answers.com. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  4. ^ "Famous Nurses". www.nursing-school.org. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "Hazel Johnson-Brown National Visionary". www.visionaryproject.org. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "First African-American woman general served at Walter Reed". ww2.dcmilitary.com. Archived from the original on 30 October 2011. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  7. ^ http://www.philly.com/philly/obituaries/127497578.html
  8. ^ "Hazel W. Johnson-Brown". www.nurses.info. Retrieved 3 July 2011. 
  9. ^ "Hazel W. Johnson (1927–2011) | African American Almanac - Credo Reference". search.credoreference.com. Retrieved 2018-01-15. 
  10. ^ "CANDACE AWARD RECIPIENTS 1982-1990, Page 2". National Coalition of 100 Black Women. Archived from the original on March 14, 2003. 
  11. ^ "Hazel W. Johnson (1927–2011) | African American Almanac - Credo Reference". search.credoreference.com. Retrieved 2018-01-15. 
  12. ^ "Hazel W. Johnson (1927–2011) | African American Almanac - Credo Reference". search.credoreference.com. Retrieved 2018-01-15. 

External links[edit]

1. 7 Facts About Brigadier General Hazel W. Johnson-Brown